Maret Tsarnaev, an aunt of the Boston bombing suspects who lives in Toronto, defended the two men and shed light on their family and background in a number of media interviews Friday.
"My first reaction is, ‘Why the hell would they do this?’ But when I go through all the material, it’s not giving anything … the whole world is now making a decision now by just seeing these pictures and not having anything else,” she told the Toronto Sun.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died in a gun battle with police overnight. While Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, is still on the run from police.
Maret revealed that the two men came to the United States as refugees in the early 2000s. She told the National Post that Tamerlan was married to a "devout Christian woman" and had a small child.
She also said she has not seen the boys for several years but spoke to Tamerlan two years ago when his daughter was born.
The Daily Mail reported that Tamerlan was married to Katherine Russell, a college student from Rhode Island. The couple had a young daughter, Zahara.
When asked at a press conference whether the two men were devout Muslims Maret hesitated. "[Tamerlan] was not devout, practicing. But recently, two years ago maybe, he started praying five times a day," she said.
"I know them as angels. I’m suspicious that this was staged," Maret told the National Post on Friday.
"I do not believe these two boys have done that act of atrocity killing those people on the street and I will not believe that until, until I get evidence," she said in the lobby of her west-end Toronto apartment building.
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Her statements echoed words from the suspect's father, Anzor Tsarnaev. "We expected him to come on holidays here," he told the Associated Press.
"They were set up, they were set up!" he added.
Anzor's brother, Ruslan, was much more negative and called the men "losers" and urged Dzhokhar to turn himself in to police. "Dzhokhar, if you are alive, turn yourself in and ask for forgiveness from the victims, from the injured and from those who left," he said to members of the media on Friday.
With files from The Canadian Press