Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the 26-year-old accused Boston Marathon bomber who was killed in a shootout with police Friday morning, had an American wife and daughter.
At age 24, Katherine Russell has been suddenly widowed and thrust into the spotlight. Russell, who has a 3-year-old daughter with Tsarnaev, Zahara, was raised a Christian but converted to Islam after marrying him in 2009 or 2010 while still a student at Suffolk University in Boston, according to the Daily Mail. She never graduated. Tsarnaev was arrested in 2009 for assaulting her, but Russell later told Cambridge cops he was “a very nice man,” the British paper said.
Her parents, Judith and Warren Russell, gave a statement Friday night to the Daily Mail.
“Our daughter has lost her husband today, the father of her child,” they said.
“We cannot begin to comprehend how this horrible tragedy occurred. In the aftermath of the Patriot’s Day horror, we know that we never really knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
“Our hearts are sickened by the knowledge of the horror he has inflicted.”
The young couple shared a home in Rhode Island. When reporters asked how Russell was doing, her mother responded, “There’s nothing for me to say.”
Though little is known about Russell, she was reportedly an All-American girl who dreamed of being in the Peace Corps when she was younger.
“She was just this all-American girl who was brainwashed by her super-religious husband,” a former classmate anonymously told the British website.
“None of us would have dreamed that she would marry so young or drop out of college and have a baby or convert or be part of any of what’s happened,” the former classmate added. “She’s just not the same person at all.”
The Russell family has been cooperating with authorities.