2009: John Muhammad, D.C. sniper

On this date in 2009, D.C. sniper John Muhammad was executed by lethal injection in Virginia.

Muhammad — born John Allen Williams; he renamed himself after joining the Nation of Islam — authored with Lee Boyd Malvo, a juvenile collaborator under his sway, a spree of random sniper attacks around the Washington D.C. suburbs that terrified the nation’s capital in October 2002.

The two were captured together sleeping out in their sniper-mobile — a Chevy Caprice with a hole drilled in the trunk for taking concealed potshots at gas stations and mall parking lots and the like. Although arrested initially in Maryland, the U.S. Attorney General forced their case to the more aggressive death penalty jurisdiction of Virginia. (The two killed people in both states, tallying 10 dead and three wounded all told.)

From the time of his Oct. 24, 2002 arrest until the very end, Muhammad was frustratingly tight-lipped about how and why the carnage took place. Was it personal pique? Religious terrorism? Just a regular criminal racket?

In 2006 testimony, a now-contrite Lee Malvo — at one point he addressed Muhammad directly, saying “You took me into your house and you made me a monster” — outlined a plan that constituted a fearsomely nutty combination of motives: use the mayhem to extort millions of dollars, then take the money and set up a Canadian camp for 140 homeless black youth and rear them as terrorists. It’s just possible that this proposed enterprise pushed every single button in the collective American id.

(Malvo himself pled out to the murders, accepting six life sentences.)

3 thoughts on “2009: John Muhammad, D.C. sniper”

  1. Great post, Lisa.

    That was a scary time for all.

    I had forgotten that Muhammed had been executed already.

    That’s one that needed to happen.

  2. Having lived in the area during the period of the sniper attacks, and having done the famed “parking lot zig zags” when shopping for groceries, etc., still very fresh in my mind. I was out of town when the first flurry went down and my daughter’s middle school was on lockdown …

    Several articles have come out recently, the 10th “anniversary,” that have shed more light on the crime spree though. There are still apparently several “unsolved” crimes in other states that Malvo has attributed to the pair …

    But, the one point left out of this post here that is most notable, is that the motive was quite clear: During the sniper attacks in the DMV, the plan was to kill his ex-wife, who had custody of their three kids and lived in eastern Montgomery County, Md. The WaPo had in-depth interview with her within last few weeks and, apparently, one morning her neighbor was taking her to work and they actually saw the car outside her complex with Malvo at the wheel and a passenger who covered his face reading a newspaper … though she did not know her ex was the sniper, she DID know that he had threatened to kill her, had a major restraining order against him, and lived in mortal fear of him. With good reason, as we see. The plan was apparently that she’d be “just one” of the victims and there might be no connection to him … but in fact all the killings here were just to mask it when he killed her. The last victim, the bus driver Conrad Johnson in Silver Spring, was very close to where she lived.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *