With aspects of extreme radicalization, sheer violence, intelligence oversight, as well as several unanswered queries, Hulu’s ‘The Murders Before the Marathon’ is a docuseries unlike any other. That’s because it delves into the possible connection between the 2011 Waltham triple homicide of Brendan Mess, Erik Weissman, and Raphael Teken and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. So now, if you wish to learn more about the former in particular — with a specific focus on what precisely transpired, along with its ensuing investigations — we’ve got all the key details for you.
How Did Brendan Mess, Erik Weissman, and Raphael Teken Die?
Despite the fact Brendan was 25, Erik was 31, and Raphael was 37, the three Massachusetts natives were reportedly good friends due to their similar personal as well as professional passions. They were actually not only known drug dealers around the Waltham region, but they were also strong men serving as a martial arts instructor, a personal trainer, and a bodybuilder, respectively. It thus came as a complete surprise when they lost their lives after having gathered to watch Sunday Night Football on September 11, 2011, at Brendan’s second-story 12 Harding Avenue flat.
The trio was discovered the following morning by Brendan’s then-partner, Hiba Eltilib, just for officials to arrive moments later and realize they’d been dragged to or slain in three different rooms. The worst part, though, was the way it’d been done — “sharp force trauma to the neck” — their throats had been slit with such an utter, unrestrained force that they all were almost decapitated. As if that’s not enough, two of them were left covered in marijuana (weighing a total of 7 pounds or 112 ounces), making it clear this brutal incident was not the result of a random act of violence.
Who Killed Brendan Mess, Erik Weissman, and Raphael Teken?
Since Brendan, Erik, and Raphael were savagely murdered, there were no signs of forced entry, and nearly $5,000 were found at the crime scene, officials quickly ruled out robbery as a motive. They even ascertained the trio was slain by someone they’d willingly let into the residence, someone they knew, but the case still went cold roughly a week later because of no concrete leads. However, per the Hulu original, a significant reason for the same was also the authorities’ perception that the victims were criminals who’d probably landed themselves in cartel-related trouble.
The Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office had formally kept this case ongoing, yet it wasn’t until the Boston Marathon bombings in mid-April 2013 that they truly got their first breakthrough. Once the terrorists were identified as 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev (brothers), the latter was connected to the 9/11 anniversary homicide through Brendan. After all, Tamerlan and Brendan not only went to the same gym but were also best friends — some of their other mutual friends/acquaintances had even named him in their police statements.
It was not that Tamerlan was considered a suspect from the get-go; it was just their friends had found his behavior following the homicide strange since he didn’t even show up at the funerals. However, upon his death during a shootout stemming from the authorities’ efforts to capture him and his brother on April 19, 2013, it came to light he’d been radicalized for quite a few years. According to ‘The Murders Before the Marathon,’ he had a particular aversion towards Jews, which could be a motive because Erik Weissman and Raphael Teken were both openly proud of their Jewish heritage.
Tamerlan’s name led to the FBI getting involved as well as the name of Chechen immigrant Ibragim Todashev coming to light, only for things to take yet another drastic turn. When the officials actually went down to question the latter in Orlando, Florida, on May 22, 2013 — he’d relocated around a year prior — he severely implicated himself and Tamerlan in the triple murder. But his demeanor suddenly changed while writing his formal confession; he attacked the agents, causing one of them to shoot multiple times in fear of his life. Ibragim died on the spot following 8 hours of interrogation.
As per reports, Ibragim had allegedly told detectives his and Tamerlan’s initial motive was, in fact, robbery, yet the latter decided it would be better to “eliminate any witnesses” at the scene. They’d purportedly tied up Brendan, Erik, and Raphael by this point, so the Chechen-Avar descendant slit their throat before the duo spent an hour cleaning up any possible direct evidence.
Tamerlan and Ibragim have thus been linked to the triple homicide for years, but they were formally named people of interest relatively recently, according to the documentary series. It’s also imperative to note that the matter is actually still ongoing since officers believe they have a “material witness” and can further identify “a new potential source of physical evidence.”