Lawmaker Fears Trail to Boston Bomber Getting Cold

Billy House

A top House Republican says he’s been told first-hand that authorities have no suspects in custody in Monday’s Boston Marathon bombings, and he said he fears the trail to solving the crime may be getting cold.

“Every day that passes it gets colder,” said Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas, speaking to reporters outside the House chamber.  

Noting that he is a former federal prosecutor, McCaul also offered, “the first 24 hours of a murder case are pretty important.” And he added, “I know the flights outbound out of the United States are on high alert. But you know, every day that goes by, it gets more difficult to find him.”

At the same time, McCaul said authorities do have videotape of individuals with backpacks or bags. Asked to confirm whether those videos show two persons separately at each of the two bombing sites prior to the explosions, McCaul would not say.

McCaul’s remarks came after he talked earlier Thursday with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in which he said he asked directly whether a suspect is in custody, and she replied “no.” Some media outlets had on Wednesday reported a Saudi national was being held as a suspect, but that man turned out to be a witness being questioned about what he saw.

“I’m concerned, if the Saudi case has truly washed out--as Napolitano said again today--that means the perpetrators, the terrorists, are still out there,” said McCaul.

But seeking then to put a more optimistic pitch to his remarks, McCaul also said that some of the forensic work on remnants of the explosive device--including ball bearings and powder--could come back as early as today.

 “That’s going to tell a lot,” he said, suggesting it might turn up fingerprints or DNA that could lead to the execution of some search warrants. “And then couple that with the video footage they have of these guys with backpacks, and that’s how they put it together,” he said.

Asked why those videos or images have not yet been released to the public, McCaul said, “The last thing they want to do is release pictures of innocent civilians as potential suspects when they are not.”

“They have video, and they are examining it. My guess is that they are trying to evaluate are these really suspects enough to release this to the public, so the public can assist with the apprehension,” he said.