WALTHAM — Investigators quickly realized that the three men must have known whoever slit their throats in the early evening hours of Sept. 11, 2011. They also concluded that the grisly scene inside the Harding Avenue apartment — each victim laid out in a separate room, the bodies partially covered with marijuana — had to be the work of multiple killers.
“We know there were at least two people who are not in that apartment now who were there earlier,” Gerard T. Leone Jr., then Middlesex district attorney, said on the following afternoon, explaining that there were no signs of forced entry at the apartment. “We should have other developments that we can reveal either late tonight or tomorrow early morning.”
But there were no further developments. Investigators immediately compiled a list of individuals known to the three victims, including deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, but never released additional information about the slayings.
And for the next 18 months the investigation seemed to go nowhere, the killings written off by many as a cautionary tale of three low-level drug dealers who must have gotten in over their heads.
Now, in the days since an FBI agent fatally shot a Florida man just as he was allegedly confessing to the killings and implicating Tsarnaev, the case is suddenly part of the Marathon bombing investigation. The renewed interest has given hope to the families of the Waltham victims, but it also has raised a troubling question: If local investigators had solved the triple slaying, could they have arrested Tsarnaev and prevented four deaths and more than 260 injuries at this year’s Marathon?
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