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Widow of man killed by FBI during Marathon investigation charged with lying

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Ibragim Todashev was killed in May 2013.Uncredited

The widow of a Chechen man shot and killed in 2013 while being questioned in Florida about the Boston Marathon bombings and a triple murder in Waltham has been indicted on a charge of lying to the FBI.

Reniya Manukyan is accused of making false statements in a terror investigation on May 21, 2013, the day before her estranged husband, Ibragim Todashev, allegedly confessed to helping Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev kill three men in Waltham. Minutes later, a Boston FBI agent shot and killed Todashev after he allegedly attacked the agent.

The indictment, filed last week in federal court in Atlanta, alleges that Manukyan lied about a man's whereabouts in the days immediately following the Waltham murders in September 2011. The court records do not identify the man and do not mention the murders.


The grand jury charged that Manukyan "knowingly and willfully" told agents of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force that a "named individual with whom she associated" had returned to Atlanta by bus after his job in Massachusetts ended in August 2011.

But the court records say that Manukyan "well knew" that the man had not taken a bus to Georgia, where she lived. Instead, they allege, Manukyan met the man in New York state on Sept. 13, 2011, and drove him to Atlanta.

Manukyan could not be reached for comment. She was not in custody as of Monday night, said Gretchen Fortin, spokeswoman for the US Marshals in Atlanta.

"The FBI is actively looking for her," Fortin said.

Hassan Shibly, chief executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Florida, which helped Todashev's father in Russia file a $30 million claim against the FBI for his son's death, called the indictment of Manukyan three years later "strange."

"They killed her loved one and now to charge her is pretty insulting," said Shibly, who added that he has not been in touch with Manukyan. "This all hit all of us by surprise."


Earlier this year the Globe reported that Todashev told federal immigration agents that he left Massachusetts in September 2011. Todashev separated from Manukyan that same year, according to the claim filed by Todashev's father.

Federal and state records show that investigators suspected Todashev and Tsarnaev in the Waltham killings, and the Marathon bombings renewed attention on the case.

On Sept. 12, 2011, Brendan Mess, 25, once a close friend of Tsarnaev's, Erik H. Weissman, 31, and Raphael M. Teken, 37, were discovered in Mess's apartment with their throats slit and marijuana scattered on their bodies.

Nearly two years later, Tsarnaev and his younger brother, Dzhokhar, planted two bombs near the Marathon finish line that killed three people and wounded over 260 others in April 2013. The brothers also killed an MIT police officer.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed in a police shoot-out in Watertown, and his brother has been convicted and sentenced to death.

Days after the bombing, federal investigators sought out Todashev, a 27-year-old mixed-martial arts fighter from Russia, Manukyan, and others connected to the Tsarnaevs.

FBI agents began questioning Manukyan in April 2013, according to Todashev's father's claim with the bureau. Agents first detained her in New York as she returned from visiting family in Russia and questioned her for five hours. The next day, the FBI again questioned her at her work in Atlanta, asking if she feared being blamed for Todashev's actions because they shared a car.


FBI agents also questioned her the night of May 21, 2013, hours before a Boston FBI agent shot and killed Todashev.

After Todashev's death, a grief-stricken Manukyan demanded justice. She said that her husband could not have been involved in the Waltham murders and that the case had never been brought up in their interviews with the FBI.

"They need to answer to the public about what happened," she told the Globe, identifying herself as Todashev's widow. "I want justice for what happened."

Officials said the agent shot Todashev in self-defense after he attacked him and a Massachusetts state trooper. They said Todashev had just confessed to helping Tamerlan Tsarnaev carry out the Waltham murders. Todashev's advocates discounted these claims and pointed out that the agent who shot Todashev had a rocky past.

An excerpt of a book on the bombings by a Russian-American journalist last year explored the complexities of Manukyan's on-and-off relationship with Todashev. Manukyan's family is from Russia. Her mother, Elena Teyer, joined the US Army and lived in Georgia. But Manukyan struggled with her identity, changing her name from Nyusha to Reniya and presenting herself as Armenian.

The excerpt said she converted to Islam and married Todashev in 2010.

Todashev eventually moved to Orlando, where he found a new girlfriend, but it was unclear if Manukyan was aware of their relationship.


The US attorney's office and the FBI in Atlanta did not respond to requests for comment.

The Middlesex district attorney's office, which is investigating the Waltham murders, had no comment on the Atlanta indictment on Monday.

Material from the Associated Press contributed to this report. Maria Sacchetti can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @mariasacchetti.