MOSCOW – The bodies of an elderly woman and her daughter were found in Russia beneath a scrawled message demanding freedom for the jailed members of the Pussy Riot band, officials said Thursday.

While a Russian investigator cautioned that the killer was possibly trying to mislead police by drawing attention to the punk provocateurs, the alleged link between a killer and anti-Putin protesters was immediately seized upon by Russian media and pro-Kremlin publicists.

Three members of the band were sentenced this month to two years in prison for a February “punk prayer” performance in Moscow’s main cathedral entreating the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Vladimir Putin.