May 20, 2013
BOSTON, Mass. -- Among the many unanswered questions about the two Tsarnaev brothers accused of the Boston Marathon bombing is why, days after the attack, they were heading to the suburb of Watertown and its manicured lawns and tulips when police picked up their trail and began a chase.
Investigators want to know what drew the accused bombers to the cluster of side streets in the blue-collar suburb, far from any major thoroughfare, especially if the brothers were on the run after their images had been shown on television by the FBI and after they had allegedly murdered MIT Police Officer Sean Collier.
"It's clear the suspects have connections to Watertown," said Joseph Curatone, the mayor in the neighboring city of Somerville told ABC News. "And it's abundantly clear that investigators are exploring every aspect of those connections as they should."
Some answers may be found in an obscure town parking ticket and a police report from the adjoining suburb of Arlington about a minor case involving open containers of alcohol, law enforcement officials told ABC News.
The parking ticket, obtained by ABC News, was written on a car registered to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at 2:10 a.m. on February 18, 2011 on the 200 block of Boylston Street.
When the ticket was found in police records during the hunt for the wounded bomber, it sparked an immediate FBI raid on the Boylston street address, which is the home of a friend, Maximilian Freddura, part of a prominent Boston restaurateur family.
Freddura's apartment, where police officials say Dzhokhar was a frequent guest, is a block away from the corner of Laurel and Dexter Streets where police caught up with the Tsarnaev brothers five days after the marathon bombing.
After a chaotic exchange of gunfire that night that included the detonation of several explosives, the older Tsarnaev, Tamerlan, was killed, while his brother Dzkhokhar managed to escape, though injured. Dzkhokhar was captured hours later, hiding in a covered boat.
"Was he headed here? I don't know," Freddura told ABC News last week, referring to Dzhokhar. Freddura attended Cambridge Rindge and Latin, the same high school attended by both Tsarnaevs. "He certainly would not have been welcomed."
During the hunt for the younger Tsarnaev, police raided another residence in neighboring Arlington where the accused bomber had a run-in with police on July 4, 2012, ABC News has learned.
According to the police report obtained by ABC News, Dzhokhar and two other men were seen drinking in another car registered to Dzhokhar, the 1999 Green Honda Civic that investigators believe Dzhokhar drove during the police chase into Watertown.
"In the driver seat was Dzhokar Tsarnaev," the report states.
Dzhokhar was issued a ticket for parking in a restricted area and was released. Another occupant of the car said he was the one drinking and received a $500 fine for having an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
Based on that police report, investigators searched the Arlington block during the manhunt, which is roughly two miles away from the scene of the shootout.
"It was within walking distance, so we hit the house,'' said a law enforcement official involved in the hunt. Arlington Police maintained a presence in the area throughout the time of the manhunt.
It was the second time in three years that the blue-collar suburb appeared to have links to a terror attack.
Watertown Link to Times Square Bomber
In 2010, Watertown was the scene of FBI raids after agents learned that Faisal Shahzad, convicted of trying to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, came to the suburb to pick up $5,000 cash from a Pakistani citizen living there, according to federal court records.
The Pakistani, Aftab Ali, was identified by authorities as part of a militant group, Tehrik-e-Taliban, and was deported.
Authorities said they know of no link between the Times Square bomber and the two accused Marathon bombers, other than the coincidental connections to Watertown.
Now, just more than a month after the bombings, windows in the Watertown area where hundreds of bullets were fired and four bombs were lobbed at police remain webbed with bullet holes and marked with FBI tape.
An ATF evidence cone marked "58" rests in a tulip bed. The vinyl siding of several homes is ripped with ricochet rounds.
The street is stained black from a pressure-cooker bomb.
Blood left behind after Tamerlan Tsarnaev was run over by his fleeing brother is still visible on the corner where the chaos was at its height.
Later, residents incorporated the bloodstain in a chalk drawing with the initials "USA" written underneath.
Freelance writer Michele McPhee is a Boston-based reporter and frequent contributor to ABC News.