– Federal authorities are scrutinising the activities of the wife of the dead Boston Marathon bombing suspect in the days before and after the attacks.
They are looking at a range of possibilities, two senior law enforcement officials said, including that she could have – wittingly or unwittingly – destroyed evidence, helped the bombers evade capture or even played a role in planning the attacks.
As part of the investigation, FBI agents are trying to determine whether female DNA found on a piece of a pressure cooker used as an explosive device in the attacks was from Katherine Russell, the wife of Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
One of the officials said a fingerprint was also found on a bomb fragment and that investigators had tried to collect DNA and fingerprint samples from several people whom the authorities are scrutinising in addition to Ms Russell.
Federal authorities took a sample of Ms Russell’s DNA on Monday in Rhode Island, where she has been staying with her parents, the officials said.
Her lawyer, Amato DeLuca, was unavailable for comment, but has said that she was shocked when she learnt that her husband and brother-in-law were suspected of involvement in the attack, and that she was doing everything she can to assist with the investigation.
The focus on Ms Russell is part of the wider effort by the FBI to determine who else may have played a role aiding the bombers.
While the authorities do not believe the bombers were tied to a terrorist network or had accomplices, they remain sceptical that others did not know of their plans or did not help them destroy evidence.
Ms Russell, 24, grew up in North Kingston, Rhode Island, and is the daughter of a physician. Her lawyer has said she met Tsarnaev while she was a student at Suffolk University. She converted to Islam and married Tsarnaev in an Islamic ceremony at a mosque in Boston in June 2010.
Mr DeLuca has said Ms Russell does not speak Russian, so she could not always understand what her husband was saying.
On Monday, another lawyer was added to the defence team of the surviving bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19. Judy Clarke,mine of the nation’s foremost experts in death penalty cases, took the case at the behest of Tsarnaev’s three public defenders, who believed they did not have adequate expertise in capital cases.
Her past clients include Susan Smith, who was convicted of drowning her two children, Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, and Jared Loughner, killed six people at an event held by Gabrielle Gliffords in Arizona. All avoided the death penalty and received life sentences instead – Michael Schmidt


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