DC Beltway Snipers Case Study

DC Beltway Snipers Case Study Forensic Yard (1)

Beltway sniper attacks also referred to as the D.C. Sniper attacks, were a series of interlinked shootings that took place during three weeks in October 2002 in the districts of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. 10 individuals were killed and three other people were crucially wounded in the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area and along interstate 95 in Virginia.

The shooters involved in the killing spree were John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo. They randomly chose their targets and hence the life in that area was brought to a standstill.

Here, in this article, we will discuss the details of the attacks, pieces of evidence found, and trials and investigations.

The Shooters from Beltway Snipers Case

There were two shooters involved in the entire shooting event of the beltway sniper attack. The older one named John Allen Williams changed his name to John Allen Muhammad after converting to Islam in the year 2002. He was 41 years old and an ex-member of the United States National Guard and also an ex-member of the United States Army. John had earned various medals for expert marksmanship while serving in the army.

The other one involved in the Beltway Sniper Attack was Lee Boyd Malvo. He was a 17-year-old young boy. Lee posed as John Muhammad’s son but was the son of John Muhammad’s friend. It was also him who shoplifted the rifles that were used in the killing spree from a gun dealer in Tacoma, Washington.

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Preliminary Events of the Shooting

On February 16 in the year 2002, Kenya Nicole a 21-year-old cashier was shot by lee Malvo at the front door of her aunt’s home in Tacoma, WA. Isa Nichols, Kenya’s aunt were a good friend of John Muhammad’s ex-wife Mildred and she had also encouraged her to seek divorce.

The next attack was on March 19 in the year 2002 when Jerry Taylor aged 60 years was shot to death with a single shot fired from long range as he practiced chip shots at Tucson, Arizona golf course. He was on a visit to Muhammad’s sister’s place at the time of the shooting.

These events of the shooting were followed by two more deaths and four injuries in other states from March through July in the year 2002.

After several other killings, the evidence found at the scene of the crime eventually tied this killing to the Beltway Snipers attacks and allowed the authorities to identify Muhammad and Malvo as the offenders. However, this connection was not made till October 17.

Beltway Sniper Attacks

The Beltway Sniper attack began on October 2, 2002, with a window of a craft store being shattered by a bullet in Aspen Hill, Maryland. The bullet narrowly escaped the cashier at the store, Ann Chapman. Serious alarms were not raised since nobody was injured and the shot was considered to be random.

Within an hour of that incident, a 55 years old man was shot and killed while he was walking across a parking lot in Wheaton, Maryland. The shootings were initially not thought to be inter-related but the law enforcement agencies realized that these were just the beginning of more than a dozen shootings that was to happen over the next 23 days.

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3rd October was the deadliest day. Within 15 hours, four people in Maryland and one in Washington, D.C. were shot and killed. On 4th of October, a woman of 43 years old was shot in the parking lot of a shopping center. However, the woman fortunately survived.

The public was shocked when a 13-year-old boy who was walking into his school, in Maryland was shot by a Beltway Sniper on October 7. The young kid lost 25 to 30% of the blood. One of his lungs, diaphragms a part of his liver, pancreas, stomach, and spleen were severely damaged. The boy luckily survived after spending eight weeks in hospital.

The next two shootings were on October 9 and 11 and were similar to the previous shooting. On October 14, an FBI intelligence analyst from Virginia was shot dead outside a home depot store. A 37-year-old man was shot after 5 days in a parking lot outside a restaurant. On 22 October, a bus driver was shot while he was standing outside his bus making thirteen dead and three injured.

Investigation in Beltway Sniper’s Case

The investigation team was headed by Charles Moose, the chief of the Montgomery County police department. Roadblocks were set up near the crime scene after each shooting. These checkings led to major road jams.

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The policemen later realized that the suspects have passed through these roadblocks but were still not caught. Tarot cards and handwritten notes were left by the suspects at various crime scenes. The fingerprint from the September 21 Alabama was found on October 21 and was identified to be of Lee Malvo.

Investigators further seized the tree stump from the yard of the home in Tacoma, Washington, where the two offenders were suspected to be living.  

On 24th October 2002, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested when they were found sleeping in a 1990 chevy caprice in Maryland. These arrests stopped the Beltway sniper shootings. Allen Muhammad was sentenced to death and Malvo was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Final Words

Both John Allen Muhammed and Lee Boyd Malvo were tried separately in both Maryland and Virginia. In 2003 both of them were found guilty of a shooting that took place in Virginia. The beltway sniper attacks were carried out using the Bushmaster XM-15 semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle that was stolen.

The motive behind the attack was aimed at kidnapping the children for purpose of getting Ransomes from the government and also to set up a camp to teach children how to terrorize the cities. The beltway sniper attack was atypical in several aspects.

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