Alleged Bomber's Widow, a Convert to Islam, Questioned By FBI

FBI agents interview Katherine Russell, a Muslim convert and suspect's wife.

ByABC News
April 22, 2013, 1:14 PM

April 22, 2013— -- Federal agents are interviewing the American wife of slain terror suspect Tamerlan Tsarneav, trying to determine if the alleged Boston Marathon bomber had plans for other attacks, law enforcement sources told ABC News.

FBI agents were seen several times entering a Rhode Island home where Katherine Russell, the 24-year-old widow of Tamerlan Tsarneav, is staying with her well-to-do parents.

On Thursday, before Tsarneav was killed in a shootout with police, Tsarneav spent the day "at home" with his daughter while Russell went to work, her family's lawyer told the Associated Press.

Asked whether anything seemed amiss to Russell following the bombings, attorney Amato DeLuca said, "Not as far as I know."

"When this allegedly was going on, she was working, and had been working all week to support her family," DeLuca said.

Friends describe a change in Russell. Never religious, she converted to Islam, changed her name to Karima, and began wearing an Islamic scarf, covering her head whenever she was outside.

Three years ago, when she was just 21, she dropped out of college, married Tsarneav and gave birth to a daughter.

In high school, she was interested in the arts, regularly drawing, playing saxophone and dancing on a school team. She met Tsarnaev at a night club during her freshman year at Suffolk University, and dropped out soon after, to convert and marry him.

In the past year, she worked as a home health aid, leaving Tsarnaev at home with their young daughter.

"She is a serious, good, American girl who converted to Islam as if she had always been a Muslim. We all love her a lot," Tamerlan Tsarnaev's mother Zubeidat Tsarneava told ABC News.

On the surface, neighbors describe a devout and loving family.

"I've seen the baby… just playing in the yard and things like that. Everybody seemed happy," neighbor Patricia Gilette told ABC News.

But documents obtained by ABC News paint a different, more volatile, picture of their relationship.

In 2009, a woman described as Tsarneav's girlfriend called police in Cambridge, Mass., to report she had been hit in the face by Tamerlan, a champion boxer who once dreamed of going pro.

Tamerlan was arrested on July 28, 2009 and charged with domestic assault and battery. When confronted by police, he confessed, "Yes, I slapped her," according to an arrest report from the time.

Russell's parents have opened their doors to investigators, but have spoken little to the press or neighbors.

Her father Warren Russell, an emergency room physician, put their family's home in North Kingston, R.I., on the market this week, asking nearly half a million dollars.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of our "GMA" story about Katherine Russell contained a yearbook photograph that had identified a student playing saxophone in the student jazz band as "Katie Russell." ABC News has been contacted by another student who said the photo is of her, not Katherine Russell. Therefore, the photo has been removed from the story.