• Marathon bombing suspects had been on welfare


    (MyFoxBoston.com) – Massachusetts taxpayers were giving money to one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects.

    Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two accused bombers, received welfare benefits until last year.
    The 26-year old died on Friday after a gun battle with police in Watertown.
    State officials said benefits went to Tsarnaev, his wife, Katherine, and their young daughter. Tsarnaev's parents also received state benefits for the family when he and his brother, Dzhokhar, were minors.
    Tamerlan started to become a follower of radical Islam in 2008 or 2009. TIME Magazine is reporting that in 2011, he took a month-long trip to visit a mosque with ties to radical extremists in the Russian republic of Dagestan. Tamerlan was receiving money from the state at that time. It's unclear what kinds of benefits Tsarnaev received or the amount.

    A lawyer for his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaeva, has said that she worked 70 to 80 hours per week as a home health aide while her husband stayed home to take care of their daughter.

    The state says Tsarnaev and his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, received welfare benefits as children through their parents while the family lived in Massachusetts.

    "The brothers were not receiving transitional assistance benefits at the time of the incident and have not received any transitional assistance benefits this year," said Alec Loftus, communications director, MA Health and Human Services. "The Tsarnaevs' parents are former recipients of transitional assistance benefits, and both Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev received benefits through their parents when they were younger. Separately, Tamerlan and his family received benefits until 2012, when the family became ineligible based on their income."

    Neither was receiving benefits at the time of the bombing.

    Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's condition was upgraded from serious to fair Tuesday as investigators continued building their case against him. He could face the death penalty after being charged Monday with joining forces with his brother in setting off shrapnel-packed pressure-cooker bombs.

    Three people were killed and more than 260 injured. About 50 were still hospitalized.

    Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured hiding in a tarp-covered boat in a Watertown backyard on Friday.

    The brothers' parents are from Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim province in Russia's Caucasus, where Islamic militants have waged an insurgency against Russia.

    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Tuesday that her agency knew of Tamerlan Tsarnaev's trip to Russia. She said that even though the suspect's name was misspelled on a travel document, redundancies in the system allowed his departure to be captured by U.S. authorities in January 2012.

    Meanwhile, a U.S. Embassy official said U.S. investigators traveled to southern Russia to speak to the brothers' parents, hoping to learn more about their motives.

    In other developments:

    — A lawyer for Tamerlan Tsarnaev's wife, Katherine Tsarnaeva, said his client "is doing everything she can to assist with the investigation," although he would not say whether she had spoken with federal authorities. Another lawyer for Tsarnaeva said the 24-year-old deeply mourned the loss of innocent victims in the bombings.

    — The Massachusetts state House turned aside a bid by several lawmakers to reinstate the death penalty in certain cases, including the murder of police officers. In a 119-38 vote, the House sent the proposal to a study committee rather than advance it to an up-or-down vote.

    — In New Jersey, the sisters of the suspects, Ailina and Bella Tsarnaeva, issued a statement saying they were saddened to "see so many innocent people hurt after such a callous act." Later, in brief remarks to several news outlets, Ailina described her elder brother as a "kind and loving man." She said of both brothers: "I have no idea what got into them" and also that "at the end of the day no one knows the truth."

    — Phantom Fireworks of Seabrook, N.H., said Tamerlan Tsarnaev bought 48 mortar shells at the store in February. Company Vice President William Weimer, however, said the amount of gunpowder that could be extracted from the fireworks would not have been enough for the Boston bombs.

    — Boylston Street, where the blasts occurred, was open to the public Wednesday morning. It had been closed since the bombings.

    — A fund created to benefit the victims of the Boston Marathon attacks has generated $20 million. Mayor Thomas Menino said more than 50,000 donors from across the world have made donations to One Fund Boston.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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