What Happened to the Boston Marathon Bomber's Wife? Netflix Docuseries Revisits the Tragedy

It has been a decade since the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon traumatized the nation. Where is Tamerlan Tsarnaev's wife today?

Distractify Staff - Author

Apr. 11 2023, Updated 1:24 p.m. ET

It has been a decade since the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon that left three dead and 240 people injured. In the days that followed the April 15, 2013 attack, officials mounted a manhunt for the suspects, two Chechen-American brothers named Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

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While the older brother Tamerlan died as the police were trying to apprehend the brothers in a shootout, the younger brother Dzhokhar faced charges that went to trial.

He was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to death by lethal injection. After going through an appeal in March 2022, his sentence was upheld.

Another key player in the Boston bombings is Tamerlan's wife, Katherine Russell. After being questioned extensively by the FBI, Russell denied knowing anything about her late husband’s plans and was never charged or tried in connection to the bombing.

Keep reading to learn what has happened to her since the tragedy.

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Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev
Source: FBI/Getty Images

Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev

Did Katherine Russell know about her husband Tamerlan’s plans?

Many news outlets at the time and, later, the movie Patriot’s Day, strongly suggested that Russell not only had advanced knowledge of her husband’s bomb-making activities, but that she also refused to corporate with the FBI’s investigation. Through her own attorneys, however, Russell disputed the account and insists to this day that the movie is inaccurate and unfair in the way it depicts her.

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Although Russell never testified in court during her brother-in-law’s trial, her attorney, Amato DeLuca, confirmed that she willingly sat down with counterterrorism investigators several times and was always cooperative.

There were a number of details that seemed to incriminate Russell, but in the end they all appeared to be circumstantial. The first red flag was the instructions on how to make a bomb that were found on her computer, although it was virtually impossible to tell who actually downloaded those files. 

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Runners at the Boston Marathon
Source: Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Runners react near Kenmore Square after two bombs exploded during the 117th Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013 in Boston, Mass.

Russell's search history was also purported to include the search terms “rewards for wife of mujahideen” and “if your husband becomes a shahid what are the rewards for you.” The FBI additionally collected Russell's DNA after finding female DNA on the bomb fragments, but neither her DNA nor her fingerprints matched those on the bombs.

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Meanwhile, Russell's close friends painted a different picture of the couple. They said that Tamerlan wouldn’t allow Russell to hang out with her friends and was often aggressive with her.

Friends suggested that she had been radicalized by Tamerlan and had become more submissive during their marriage since she thought that was the right way to be as a wife.

“She had no idea how much money they had or how he was spending it,” a friend told People. “She had no idea what he was up to.” While law enforcement never charged Russell, they also never denied her involvement.

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A memorial for the Boston Marathon bombing
Source: Mario Tama/Getty Images

People gather at a makeshift memorial for victims near the site of the Boston Marathon bombings a day after the second suspect was captured on April 20, 2013 in Boston, Mass.

What happened to Katherine Russell after the investigation?

After weeks of interrogation, Russell's mother, Judith, picked up her daughter and granddaughter and drove them home to Kingston, R.I., where they lived for a few months after the bombings.

She refused to take custody of her late husband’s remains and reverted back to using her maiden name.

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After about a year in Rhode Island, Russell moved to North Bergen, N.J. with her daughter to live with Tamerlan’s sisters, Alina and Bella. 

Soon after the move, Alina confirmed that Russell had remarried and had another baby. According to those close to her, she now just wants to live a quiet life raising her children and put this all behind her. 

Netflix's new docuseries 'American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing' will likely put Katherine Russell back in the spotlight.

Thanks to Netflix, all eyes are back on Boston due to the docuseries American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing, just in time for the 10-year anniversary.

The three-part series will give streamers a close look at the incident via “historical context, expert insight, and emotional details from those who knew the bombers personally,” per the Netflix synopsis.

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“Director Floyd Russ built this three-part series around the tense, terrifying days that followed the attacks, assembling a minute-by-minute recounting of the manhunt from thousands of hours of closed-circuit video, police radio, and cell phone footage, as well as testimony from the police officers, FBI agents, and ordinary citizens whose heroics led to the killers’ capture,” the synopsis reads.

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The docuseries is said to also include “testimony from the police officers, FBI agents, and ordinary citizens whose heroics led to the killers’ capture."

In essence, the docuseries not only tells the full story, but it also focuses on how the city of Boston came together and continues to honor the lives that were lost.

Since Russell has made it a point to retreat to a quiet life, we can assume that she won't have any involvement in the docuseries. However, due to her relationship to the bombers, it's safe to say that she will be mentioned.

You can watch American Manhunt: The Boston Marathon Bombing on Netflix starting on April 12.

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