The Murders Before the Marathon cover the unsolved murders of three men in a suburb of Boston on 9/11/2011. The date is significant in this case because one of the major suspects is Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the Boston Marathon bombers. He’s the one who died while on the run and not the younger brother who girls fawned over after he was on the cover of magazines. Girls just go crazy for a squirrel’s nest on top of a guy’s head.
Three bodies are found with their throats slit. Police find $5,000 at the scene suggesting this isn’t a simple robbery. There is also a lot of marijuana dumped on the bodies. It looks like this could be a cartel killing but with a lot of evidence pointing toward Tamerlan and another associate, police have their doubts.
Some background on The Murders Before the Marathon and why it’s worth watching
The Murders Before the Marathon begins as one thing and transitions well into another. The documentarian in this case, a friend of one of the victims, Erik Weissman, begins the documentary by making it all about herself. She talks about her drug issues and her relationship with Weissman. He’s a guy who made himself out to be a bigger drug dealer than he actually was.
Thankfully, this documentary isn’t as self-serving as some others I’ve seen. Confronting a Serial Killer is one that immediately comes to mind. It’s about the Samuel Little case. The wife of someone from Weezer is the one who takes us through that story and somehow she makes it more about her own life and struggles than the actual murder victims. That’s a whole different story for another day.
Susan Zalkind only presents her relationship with Weissman as a way of telling us how and why she got involved. It was necessary to the story although I thought I was about to watch another documentary about someone trying to make herself the victim because she chose to get involved. Zalkind strays away from this quickly. By the second part of the three episodes, you’ll actually forget her personal relationship with one of the victims.
The documentary starts with covering the case of the three men killed and some background on the Boston Marathon bombings. The second part goes more into why Tsarnaev is a suspect and what events could have led to him becoming radicalized. Discrimination because he was an immigrant seems to be the destination where we arrive, specifically based on how he was disqualified from becoming eligible for the Golden Gloves boxing tournament. Archaic and rather unnecessary rules were one of the straws to break the camel’s back.
The documentary presents a ton of evidence, both circumstantial and more, to suggest at least the older Tsarnaev brother was involved in these slayings. I don’t want to spoil the whole show for you. It’s worth watching especially because I don’t believe it’s a case too many people know about.
Overall Score: 8 out of 10
What made The Murders Before the Marathon work so well is the mystery and how it seems so obvious what happened. Each episode flies by which is always a good indication of enjoying something. Why is it that a single carrot always takes an hour to finish while a tub of ice cream can be devoured in one sitting?
Lovers of mysteries and side stories from bigger cases will enjoy The Murders Before the Marathon. One of my favorite qualities of a good true crime documentary is seeing how cases are connected. No One Saw A Thing, for example, explores more than the shooting of Ken Rex McElroy. This documentary doesn’t go too deeply into the actual Boston Marathon bombings as they were more self-explanatory. What we get here, instead, is an extra layer similar to how Captive Audience: A Real American Horror Story goes from a kidnapping case to covering the other brother in the family who grows up to become a serial killer.
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