A thought-provoking documentary about murder, terrorism, and police incompetency: it presents a solid case with enough convincing evidence to at least raise some questions about the Waltham murders and the failure to prevent one of the biggest terrorist attacks of the last decade.
The Hulu documentary series The Murders Before the Marathon premiered on September 5, 2022.
The Murders Before the Marathon is a three-part docuseries produced by ABC News Studios, that premiered on Hulu on September 5. The series is asking a loaded question: Could the Boston Marathon bombing have been prevented? Investigative reporter, Susan Zalkind, thinks so. And she’s presenting convincing arguments based on over a decade of research on the subject.
In its three episodes, the series focuses on a triple homicide that shocked the sleepy town of Waltham, Massachusetts. On September 11, 2011, three friends and occasional weed sellers, Brendan Mess, Erik Weissman and Raphael Teken were found covered in marijuana with their throats slashed. A large sum of money was also found in the apartment. One of the victims, Erik Weissman, had been a friend of Susan Zalking, which is how she initially started her sleuthing journey.
The murder investigation went cold until April 2013 when the Boston Marathon bombing took place. Police identified brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev as the perpetrators. As it turns out, Tamerland Tsarnaev was connected to the three victims of the Waltham murders and known to be close friends with one of them. Police never completed their investigation into the triple homicide, nor was Tamerland’s involvement ever officially proved or disproved. However, the FBI did interrogate one of Tamerland’s friends, Ibragim Todashev, who apparently admitted to being involved in the murder case, right before being shot by an FBI agent under unclear circumstances.
Something Zalkind constantly emphasises in the docuseries is that throughout her investigation, police and officials have repeatedly refused to share information with her. For example, it took far too long before a report on the shooting of Ibragim Todashev was released. And when it did, it was full of inconsistencies.
I thought it was particularly interesting how the documentary delved deep into the life and origins of Tamerlan Tsarnaev. He was a talented young boxer who got radicalized somewhere along the way. The portrayal of the underwhelming investigation police conducted into the Waltham murders was incredibly frustrating to watch. It’s even more frustrating to see details about how the Tsarnaev brothers’ radicalization was happening in plain sight and no one did anything about it.
The series kept me at the edge of my seat for nearly three hours. It makes a compelling case in connecting a triple murder to a horrific terrorist attack. Tamerland Tsarnaev may have committed his first act of terror on a day marking a decade since 9/11. And he may have gotten away with it because the police weren’t interested in properly investigating a drug-related crime. It’s an infuriating thought, and I think that’s the point The Murders Before the Marathon is trying to convey.
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