Meadville Tribune

Community News Network

April 16, 2013

Forensic investigators discover clues to the Boston bombing

WASHINGTON — The forensic investigation of the Boston Marathon bombing is developing a preliminary picture of how it was done, though not yet who may have done it.

Almost immediately, the two billowing clouds of white smoke visible in videos were a tipoff to bomb specialists about the type of explosives used. Within 24 hours, enough bomb fragments were retrieved by investigators to suggest the use of improvised explosive devices — at least one a metal pressure cooker packed with explosives — that were left on the ground near the race finish line.

Investigators are casting a wide net, examining the possibility of a foreign or domestic inspired attack, said Timothy Murphy, an FBI agent for 23 years who served as deputy director of the bureau for a year and a half ending in 2011, when he left to work in the private sector.

"They'll look at the timing — the events that occurred in the past, who is most likely to commit something like this," Murphy said. "They'll come up with theories. They'll look at international terrorism, including state sponsored. Who else would potentially be involved here?"

The white smoke indicated that the bomber used so-called smokeless or black-powder explosives rather than a military- style high-explosive such as C-4, which produces a distinctive black smoke, according to Fred Burton, former deputy chief of counterterrorism for the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service who investigated the first World Trade Center bombing.

"The real way to know what explosive was used is to analyze the post-blast debris for traces of explosive," Michael Sigman, assistant director for physical evidence at the National Center for Forensic Science at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, said in a phone interview. "There will be traces there."

Investigators can identify the chemical composition of the explosives quickly, even before residue samples are sent to the FBI's laboratory in Quantico, Va., he said. The analysis may provide some indications about its source, though that may be limited, particularly if it's a commercial material, he said.

Text Only
Community News Network
  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014

Business Marquee
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Stocks