Beltway Snipers 1 The Beltway Snipers Corey I. Robinson Administration of Justice Professor James Sheerin December 7, 2009 Introduction Washington, District of Columbia is our nations illustrious capital city, and, being the home of the president of the United States of America should be considered to be a safe place. That however is not the case now, nor was it in 2002, when an unusual team terrorized a city, and a nation for weeks. These men, John Allen Muhammad, and Lee Boyd Malvo, will forever live in infamy, Known by all as the Beltway Snipers.
In this paper I will discuss how their killing spree showed how police agencies, Judges, and District Attorneys all over the eastern United States worked in unison to bring these monsters to justice. I will also profile their investigation from initial suspicions of a serial killer, to the arrest, the trial and conviction of Muhammad and Malvo. Muhammad Before The Killings Johnathan Allen Muhammad was a seemingly normal child and a normal man, the key word is seemingly in this situation. He was born on December 30, 2009 in Louisiana. He was raised by his aunt for most of his life.
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His mother died when he was four years of age. After finishing high school John married Carol Kaglear. Shortly after, he joined the Army National Guard, specifically a unit based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (A&E Television, 2009) His military career was a roller coaster for him. He was disciplined twice in the National Guard, the incident that got him discharged sometime in the early 1980’s, was an altercation in which he punched a non-commissioned officer. In 1985, Muhammad was then awarded the Army’s highest award for marksmanship for a normal soldier before he was discharged in 1994 as a sergeant following the Gulf War.
Muhammad joined the Oregon National Guard in 1995. John tried small business ownership two separate times. One time was an auto mechanic shop, and the other was a karate school. They both failed miserably, and Mr. Muhammad ended up on the streets for a number of months. John Muhammad’s criminal career didn’t start out as mass murder, he started out with a few speeding infractions, that resulted in him getting his license suspended two times and being arrested twice for driving with said suspended license.
Then he moved up the ladder slowly to shoplifting, stealing $27 worth of food from a grocery store in Tacoma, Washington. His next step on the criminal step ladder was his restraining order his second wife, Mildred Muhammad took out on him in 1999. He then fled to Antigua with his three children he had had with Mildred. This is believed to be the place where he found his soon to be accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo. Shortly after fleeing the country John returned back to the United States, and settled in Bellingham, Washington, with the children. Police later found the children and returned them to their mother.
Unusually, no charges where filed on Muhammad for what could have been a federal kidnapping charge, that could have prevented Muhammad from finding Lee Boyd Malvo and killing 10 people throughout 3 antagonizing weeks in 2002. Malvo Before The Killings Lee Boyd Malvo was born February, 18, 1985 in Kingston, Jamaica. He is the son of Una James and Leslie Samuel Malvo, and spent most of his time as a child in Kingston. His father walked out on him and his mother was known to leave Malvo with others to care for him, so he was moved around a lot.
He spent most of his time unsupervised on the streets. Some time in 1998 Lee and his mother moved to Antigua. Apparently this is where John Allen Muhammad met him in early 1999. Malvo and his mother moved to Miami in 2001. Lee attended high school for a few months, until they moved again to Bellingham, Washington. (A&E Television, 2009) It has been speculated on that Muhammad dated Malvo’s mother for a while, but it nothing was testified on that fact in the courts proceedings. (Associated Press, 2003) How The Snipers Came Together
Malvo and Muhammad met in early 2001, at a homeless shelter in Bellingham, Washington. Some say that Malvo looked to Muhammad as a father figure. He had Malvo on a strict diet of only crackers, honey and nutritional supplements. (Associated Press, 2003) There is vast mystery surrounding what caused the two to go on a killing rampage. Although it seems to many that Muhammad’s beliefs on Islamic culture and his support of Osama Bin Laden, and Malvo’s frequent unsupervised activity led to them both feeling a hatred for this country. A Television,2009) The two men had a very systematic approach to the killings, no matter how random and unprovoked they look. They swapped roles midway through the rampage according to Malvo’s testimony in court. He said that Muhammad had shot the first six and allowed him the final seven. However, the authorities only found Lee Malvo’s prints on the weapon when they were captured. That is how these two met, and how they became a killing machine, using each others skills as an advantage to keep a leg up on police for twenty days. Police Investigation
The Metropolitan Police of Washington, D. C. (MPDC) had a very difficult time tracking the Beltway snipers throughout their rampage on Washington, DC. There were a lot of things that made it so hard to get a lead. One of those things is the randomness of the attacks. Muhammad and Malvo shot children, men, women, of all races. MPDC first came in contact with what would end up being the Beltway Snipers, in Wheaton, Maryland. The victim was 55 year old James D. Martin of Silver Spring, Maryland. He was shot and killed outside of a grocery store on October 2nd, 2002 at around 6:04pm .
Police had very few witnesses that said that the shots seemed to have come from nowhere in particular. The next day, October, 3rd 2002 at around 7:45am, James L. “Sonny” Buchanan of Arlington, Virginia was shot and killed in White Flint, Maryland while cutting grass at an auto dealership. That day, the MPDC declared these two killings related and also that they were done in a serial manner. The MPDC administration immediately put into action a multi-jurisdictional task force to investigate and solve these random, yet connected murders.
The Maryland State Police were the first to offer full support, and soon later the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), The United States Marshals Service (USMS), and The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) all offered full cooperation and support. It is believed that over 300 officials from local, state and federal agencies met and worked in unison using their agents and officers to track the Beltway snipers. (Safe Com program Apprehension of Muhammad and Malvo. The apprehension was seemingly on purpose, from a police point of view.
Muhammad and Malvo called two priests many times throughout the rampage, and those phone calls lead the police to a crime scene with Lee Boyd Malvo’s finger print on it. This was the only break in the 3 week spree killings. MPDC then discovered that Muhammad had just bought an old police car, a Chevrolet Caprice. Muhammad, using his advanced auto mechanic background, made a home made snipers nest out of the trunk of the Caprice. (Associated Press, 2003) The police surrounded the men at a rest stop along Interstate 70, on October 24, 2002.
In side the 1990 Caprice the men were asleep in, they found the murder weapon, a Bushmaster . 223 caliber, high powered rifle. The Bushmaster is an inexpensive, yet deadly weapon, which perfectly suited Muhammad and Malvo’s needs for the killings. The car itself had been outfitted to be able to snipe out of the trunk without having to be out of the car, or even open the trunk. There were two holes drilled in the trunk one for the barrel of the rifle and the other was for the scope. For the people of the D.
C area, the ability to do mundane task such as pump gas or walk to the store from the parking lot could be resumed without fearing for ones life. However for the families of the victims, months of hardship, and lack of closure in sues as we delve into the longest part of most serial killer cases, the trial. Muhammad’s Trial John Allen Muhammad had committed these heinous crimes in many areas so the authorities had to decide where to try him first. Death penalty was being sought out by every prosecuting District Attorney in each separate case against Muhammad.
In the 2003 murder trial for the death of Dean Harold Meyers, the jury recommended death for John Muhammad. He was then convicted in Maryland on Six counts of murder. He was found guilty of all counts. (A&E Television, 2009) Malvo’s Trial Lee Boyd Malvo did not protect his “father” John Muhammad once he was in custody, far from it. Malvo immediately testified against Muhammad, saying that Muhammad killed the first six victims. During the trial the prosecution revealed notes that Malvo wrote to inmates while he was in custody awaiting trial. The notes turned out to reveal that Malvo was not simply a child eing exploited by a sinister, cunning man. He turned out to be a lot more than Muhammad’s slave. One of his letters to an inmate read: “I play the stupid fool. Look at how I act and speak—everybody underestimates me. . . . It gives me the edge I need to study, conquer and overcome”. (A&E Television, 2009) Muhammad’s Sentence Johnathan Allen Muhammad was found guilty of six counts of murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection. Muhammad spent his time on death row in Sussex State Prison in Virginia. He was put to death by said lethal injection on Tuesday November 10th , 2009 at 9:00pm.
Some of the families of his victims were in attendance and watched his execution. Malvo’s Sentence Lee Boyd Malvo was convicted of murder of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, in Church Falls, Virginia, and two more counts of attempted murder in Spotsylvania County, VA after a plea bargain. He was sentenced to 3 life terms in prison, and there is still the possibility that he could face even more. Some ask, why add more than one life sentence. The answer is to show the community and the family of the victims how much their loss was felt and how much it should cost for taking that life, unlawfully.
Lee Boyd Malvo is currently serving his sentence in Virginia’s Red Onion State Prison, a maximum security facility. The Aftermath Following the attacks, gradually, the communities affected returned to normal. The police, both local and federal did a fantastic job with this case. They used resources very wisely and worked together as well as could have been expected. 300 police chiefs, federal agency directors and unit chiefs all worked as one huge congregation to take down what could be argued as the most notorious spree killer group in this century. Conclusion
In conclusion, two men, who would appear to be the exact opposite, came together and for a period of three weeks terrorized a nation with fear to do even simple tasks. For residents in the Washington, D. C area and Virginia as well, going outside was seen to be a deadly mistake. For 3 weeks, schools were closed, and public outdoor events were postponed, because of Johnathan Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo. These men killed 10 people from October 2, 2002 until their apprehension on October 24, 2002 at a rest stop on I-70. These men, Muhammad and Malvo will forever be known by all as, The Beltway Snipers.