Lee Boyd Malvo

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Lee Boyd Malvo
Born (1985-02-18) February 18, 1985 (age 33)
Kingston, Jamaica
Other names John Lee Malvo, Malik Malvo, The Beltway Sniper, The D.C. Sniper
Criminal penalty Multiple sentences of life imprisonment without parole
Victims 10 killed, 3 injured (D.C. metropolitan area); 17 victims elsewhere
Span of killings
February 16, 2002–October 23, 2002
Country United States
State(s) Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Washington D.C.
Date apprehended
October 24, 2002

Lee Boyd Malvo (born February 18, 1985), also known as John Lee Malvo, is a Jamaican citizen convicted murderer who, along with John Allen Muhammad, committed murders in connection with the Beltway sniper attacks in the Washington Metropolitan Area over a three-week period in October 2002. Currently, he is serving multiple life sentences at Red Onion State Prison in Virginia, a supermax prison.[1] Although the pairing's actions were classified by the media as psychopathy attributable to serial killer characteristics, researchers have debated whether or not their psychopathy meets this classification or that of a spree killer.[2] In 2012, Malvo claimed that he was sexually abused by Muhammad.[3]

The beltway attacks turned out to be only the latest of a series of shootings across the United States connected to these individuals which began on the West Coast. Muhammad had befriended the juvenile Malvo, and had enlisted him in the attacks. According to Craig Cooley, one of Malvo's defense attorneys, Malvo believed Muhammad when he told him that the $10 million ransom sought from the US government to stop the sniper killings would be used to establish a Utopian society for one hundred and forty homeless black children on a Canadian compound.[4]

Joining John Allen Muhammad

Malvo and his mother, Una Sceon James, first met John Allen Muhammad in Antigua and Barbuda around 1999, where Una and Muhammad developed a strong friendship. Later, Una left Antigua for Fort Myers, Florida, using false documents. She left her son with Muhammad, reportedly planning to have him follow her later. Malvo arrived illegally in Miami in 2001 and, in December of that year, he and his mother were apprehended by the Border Patrol in Bellingham, Washington.[5] (His mother was deported back to Jamaica from the U.S. on December 15, 2002 in the aftermath of the D.C. area sniper shootings.[6]) In January 2002, Malvo was released on a $1,500 bond.[5] Malvo caught up with Muhammad soon after. In 2002, Malvo traveled to Bellingham, Washington, where he lived in a homeless shelter with Muhammad and enrolled in high school with Muhammad falsely listed as his father, but he did not make any friends, according to his classmates.[7] While in the Tacoma, Washington area, according to his statements to investigators, Malvo shoplifted the Bushmaster XM-15 from Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, and practiced his marksmanship on the Bull's Eye firing range adjacent to the gun shop. Under federal laws, neither was legally allowed to purchase or possess guns, with both classified as prohibited persons under the Gun Control Act of 1968.[8]


Listed in chronological order are the identified victims who were murdered or wounded prior to the Beltway sniper attacks.[9] This list does not include two victims who were not publicly identified; one man was shot and killed in a robbery in Los Angeles, California, in either February or March 2002, and the other man, a 76-year-old from Tucson, Arizona, was shot non-fatally on a Clearwater, Florida, golf course on May 18, 2002.[10]

Name Age Status Date of Attack Location
Keenya Cook[11] 21 Killed February 16, 2002 Tacoma, Washington
Jerry Ray Taylor 60 Killed March 19, 2002 Tucson, Arizona
Billy Gene Dillon 37 Killed May 27, 2002 Denton, Texas
John Gaeta 52 Survived August 1, 2002 Hammond, Louisiana
Paul LaRuffa 55 Survived September 5, 2002 Clinton, Maryland
Rupinder Oberoi 22 Survived September 14, 2002 Silver Spring, Maryland
Muhammad Rashid 32 Survived September 15, 2002 Brandywine, Maryland
Million Woldemariam 41 Killed September 21, 2002 Atlanta, Georgia
Claudine Parker 52 Killed September 21, 2002 Montgomery, Alabama
Kellie Adams 24 Survived September 21, 2002 Montgomery, Alabama
Hong Im Ballenger 45 Killed September 23, 2002 Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Wright Williams, Jr.[10] 55 Survived September 26, 2002 Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Listed below are the names of the victims who were murdered or wounded in the Beltway sniper attacks.

Name Age Status Date of Attack Location
James Martin 55 Killed October 2, 2002, 6:04 PM Wheaton, Maryland
James Buchanan 39 Killed October 3, 2002, 7:41 AM Rockville, Maryland
Premkumar Walekar 54 Killed October 3, 2002, 8:12 AM Aspen Hill, Maryland
Sarah Ramos 34 Killed October 3, 2002, 8:37 AM Silver Spring, Maryland
Pascal Charlot 72 Killed October 3, 2002, 9:20 PM Washington, D.C.
Lori Ann Lewis-Rivera 25 Killed October 3, 2002, 9:58 AM Kensington, Maryland
Caroline Seawell 43 Survived October 4, 2002, 2:30 PM Fredericksburg, Virginia
Iran Brown 13 Survived October 7, 2002, 8:09 AM Bowie, Maryland
Dean Harold Meyers 53 Killed October 9, 2002, 8:18 PM Manassas, Virginia
Kenneth Bridges 53 Killed October 11, 2002, 9:40 AM Fredericksburg, Virginia
Linda Franklin 47 Killed October 14, 2002, 9:19 PM Falls Church, Virginia
Jeffrey Hopper 37 Survived October 19, 2002, 8:00 PM Ashland, Virginia
Conrad Johnson 35 Killed October 22, 2002, 5:55 AM Aspen Hill, Maryland

Criminal prosecutions

Malvo was initially arrested under federal charges, but they were dropped. He was transferred to Virginia custody and sent to jail in Fairfax County. He was charged by the Commonwealth of Virginia for two capital crimes: the murder of FBI analyst Linda Franklin "in the commission of an act of terrorism" (an addendum to Virginia law that was added after the September 11, 2001, attacks), and the murder of more than one person in a three-year period. He was also charged with the unlawful use of a firearm in the murder of Franklin. Initially, a Fairfax attorney, Michael Arif, was appointed to represent him, along with Thomas B. Walsh and Mark J. Petrovich. Later, prominent Richmond attorney Craig Cooley was appointed to the team and assumed a leadership role.[12] While in jail, he made a recorded confession to Detective Samuel Walker in which he stated that he "intended to kill them all".[13]

Under a change of venue, the trial was moved over 150 miles away to the city of Chesapeake in southeastern Virginia. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to all charges on the grounds that he was under Muhammad's complete control. One of Malvo's psychiatric witnesses testified that Muhammad, a member of Nation of Islam, had indoctrinated him into believing that the proceeds of the extortion attempt would be used to begin a new nation of only pure black young persons somewhere in Canada.[citation needed]

During the trial, Malvo's defense attorney Craig S. Cooley said that violent video games had contributed significantly to Malvo's mind state and willingness to commit murder. Cooley said: "He's trained and desensitized with video games, computer games, to train him to shoot human forms over and over."[14] Sociologists Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl K. Olson, however, argue in their book Grand Theft Childhood that other factors were much more significant. "In court, Lee Malvo admitted that he trained by shooting a real gun at paper plates that represented human heads. Also, Malvo had a long history of antisocial and criminal behavior, including torturing small animals – one of the best predictors of future violent criminal behavior."[15]

On December 18, 2003, after nearly 14 hours of deliberation, the jury convicted him of both charges. On December 23, a jury recommended a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Franklin. On March 10, 2004, a judge formally sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

On October 26, 2004, under a plea bargain to avoid a possible death penalty, Malvo entered an Alford plea to the charges of murdering Kenneth Bridges and attempting to murder Caroline Seawell while Malvo was in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. He also pled guilty to two firearms charges and agreed not to appeal his conviction for the murder of Franklin. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole for murder, plus eight years imprisonment for the weapons charges.

One Virginia prosecutor in Prince William County had stated he would wait to decide whether to try him on additional capital charges in his jurisdiction until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on whether juveniles may be subject to the penalty of execution. However, in light of the March 1, 2005 Supreme Court decision in Roper v. Simmons that the Eighth Amendment prohibits execution for crimes committed when under the age of 18, the prosecutors in Prince William County decided not to pursue the charges against Malvo. However, prosecutors in Maryland, Louisiana and Alabama were still interested in putting both Malvo and Muhammad on trial.[citation needed]

As Malvo was 17 when he committed the crimes, he cannot face the death penalty, but still may be extradited to Alabama, Louisiana, and other states for prosecution. At the outset of the Beltway sniper prosecutions, the primary reason for extraditing the two suspects from Maryland, where they were arrested, to Virginia, was the differences in how the two states deal with the death penalty. While the death penalty was allowed in Maryland, it only applied to persons who were adults at the time of their crimes, whereas Virginia had also allowed the death penalty for offenders who had been juveniles when their crimes were committed. Also a death sentence was more likely to result in execution in Virginia than in Maryland (which abolished its death penalty in 2013).[citation needed] In May 2005, Virginia and Maryland reached an agreement to allow Maryland to begin prosecuting some of the pending charges there, and Malvo was extradited to Montgomery County, Maryland under heavy security.

On June 16, 2006, Malvo told authorities that he and Muhammad were guilty of four additional shootings. The four most recently linked victims were also shot in 2002: a man killed in Los Angeles during a robbery in February or March; a 76-year-old man who survived a shooting on May 18 at a golf course in Clearwater, Florida; a man shot to death while doing yard work in Denton, Texas, May 27; and 54-year-old John Gaeta[16] who survived being shot on August 1 during a robbery outside a shopping mall near Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[17]

On October 10, 2006, Malvo pleaded guilty to the six murders he was charged with in Maryland. On October 26 he told police that he and Muhammad had killed Jerry Taylor, 60, as he practiced chip shots at a Tucson, Arizona golf course in March 2002. Tucson detectives interviewed Malvo about Taylor, who died from a single gunshot fired at long range, but did not disclose their findings.[18] On November 8 Malvo was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole.[19]

Civil lawsuit

In 2003, Malvo and Muhammad were named in a major civil lawsuit by the Legal Action Project of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence on behalf of some two of their victims who were seriously wounded and the families of some of those murdered. Co-defendants Bull's Eye Shooter Supply and Bushmaster Firearms contributed to a landmark $2.5 million out-of-court settlement in late 2004.

The "real plan," as told by Lee Boyd Malvo

In Muhammad's May 2006 trial in Montgomery County, Maryland, Malvo took the stand and confessed to a more detailed version of the pair's plans. Malvo, after extensive counseling, admitted that he had been lying in the statement he made after his arrest when he had admitted to being the triggerman for every shooting. Malvo claimed that he had said this in order to protect Muhammad from the death penalty, because it was more difficult to achieve the death penalty for a minor. Malvo stated, "I'm not proud of myself. I'm just trying to make amends", expressing his regret in the shootings.[20] In his two days of testimony, Malvo outlined detailed aspects of all the shootings.

Part of his testimony concerned Muhammad's complete, multiphase plan. His plan consisted of three phases in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore metro areas. Phase One consisted of meticulously planning, mapping, and practicing their locations around the D.C. area. This way after each shooting they would be able to quickly leave the area on a predetermined path, and move on to the next location. Muhammad's goal in Phase One was to kill six white people a day for 30 days. Malvo went on to describe how Phase One did not go as planned due to heavy traffic and the lack of a clear shot and/or getaway at different locations.[21][22][23][24]

Phase Two was meant to take place in Baltimore. Malvo described how this phase was close to being implemented, but never was carried out. Phase Two was intended to begin by killing a pregnant woman by shooting her in the stomach. The next step would have been to shoot and kill a Baltimore police officer. At the officer's funeral, they would plant several improvised explosive devices. These explosives were intended to kill a large number of police, since many police would attend another officer's funeral. More bombs were then to be detonated as ambulances arrived at the scene.[25]

The last phase was to take place very shortly after, if not during, Phase Two. The third phase was to extort several million dollars from the U.S. government. This money would be used to finance a larger plan: to travel north into Canada and recruit other effectively orphaned boys to use weapons and stealth, and send them out to commit shootings across the country.[21][22][23][24]


As of 2014, Lee Boyd Malvo is incarcerated at the Red Onion State Prison as Virginia Department of Corrections #1180834, Inmate #330873.[26]

  • On October 2, 2007, Malvo called a daughter of one of the victims, Cheryll Witz, to apologize for his role.[27]
  • Malvo reportedly sent a letter, dated February 21, 2010, to apologize to John C. Gaeta for shooting him. Malvo wrote: "I am truly sorry for the pain I caused you and your loved ones. I was relieved to hear that you suffered no paralyzing injuries and that you are alive."[28]
  • A Wise County, Virginia Circuit Judge denied Malvo's request to change his name on July 29, 2011. Malvo petitioned the court for the name change on the basis that it would be safer if his fellow inmates did not know his real name, due to his notoriety.[29]
  • In September 2012, Malvo gave a lengthy interview to the Washington Post. In this interview, Malvo, then 27, stated that “I was a monster...If you look up the definition, that’s what a monster is. I was a ghoul. I was a thief. I stole people’s lives. I did someone else’s bidding just because they said so. . . . There is no rhyme or reason or sense.”[30] In an interview with Matt Lauer on October 24, 2012, Malvo said that Muhammad sexually abused him throughout their relationship.[31]

In popular culture


  1. "Lee Boyd Malvo, 10 years after D.C. area sniper shootings: 'I was a monster'". Washington, D.C.: Washington Post. September 29, 2012. Retrieved September 11, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. John Douglas, Ann W. Burgess, Allen G. Burgess, Robert K. Ressler (2011) [2006]. "Profiling Serial Murderers". The Crime Classification Manual, 2nd Edition. John Wiley and Sons. ISBN 9781118047187. |access-date= requires |url= (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "In interview DC sniper says he was sexually abused". Washington, D.C.: Associated Press. October 25, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Baltimore Sun coverage of Muhammad and Malvo
  5. 5.0 5.1 Gibson, Dirk Cameron. Clues from Killers. 2004, pp. 41–42
  6. Staff (December 15, 2002). "Suspect's Mother Is Taken Back To Jamaica". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 4, 2013. (Subscription required (help)).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Bio: Lee Boyd Malvo". Fox News. May 23, 2006. Retrieved May 11, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. http://www.atf.gov/firearms/how-to/identify-prohibited-persons.html
  9. Kovaleski, Serge F.; Michael E. Ruane (December 15, 2002). "Before Area Sniper Attacks, Another Deadly Bullet Trail". Washington Post. pp. A01. Retrieved 4 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. 10.0 10.1 Londono, Ernesto; Eric Rich (June 16, 2006). "Malvo claims four more shootings, source says". Seattle Times. Retrieved 4 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Thomas, Pierre; Neal Karlinksy; Mike Gudgell (October 28, 2002). "Tacoma Death Linked to Sniper Suspect". ABC News. Retrieved 4 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Murder trial for Malvo set to start in November"
  13. The Scotsman report on Muhammad and Malvo
  14. Liptak, Adam. "Defense Portrays Different Sides of Sniper Suspect". November 23, 2003. The New York Times. Accessed on July 24, 2011.
  15. Kutner, Lawrence and Olson, Cheryl K. Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth about Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008. ISBN 0-7432-9951-5. p. 8.
  16. McLaughlin, Eliott C. (March 4, 2010). "Sniper's apology brings closure, no justice". CNN. Retrieved March 4, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "Sniper reportedly details 4 new shootings" Associated Press/KX net.com, June 16, 2006
  18. Manning, S. (Oct 26, 2006). Tucson police question DC sniper about golf course murder. TucsonCitizen.com. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  19. Londono, E. (November 9, 2006). Malvo Apologizes at Md. Sentencing. Washington Post archive. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
  20. CNN coverage of Muhammad and Malvo
  21. 21.0 21.1 Mount, Harry (June 25, 2006). "The sniper's plan: kill six whites a day for 30 days". London: Telegraph. Retrieved May 11, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. 22.0 22.1 Montaldo, Charles (May 25, 2006). "Malvo Outlines Snipers' Plan of Terror". About.com. Retrieved July 17, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Malvo: Muhammad 'made me a monster'; Younger man cross-examined by former mentor in sniper trial", CNN, May 23, 2006
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Rehabbing The D.C. Snipers". Investor's Business Daily. October 17, 2007. Archived from the original on November 27, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. Siegel, Andrea F.; Scharper, Julie (May 24, 2006). "D.C. Sniper Tells Jury of Lethal Bomb Plots". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 11, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. "Offender Locator". Virginia Department of Corrections. Retrieved September 12, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. "Five years After Killings, Sniper Calls Victim's Daughter". FOX News Network. October 2, 2007. Retrieved January 4, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Chevel Johnson. "Malvo sends letter of apology to Louisiana victim". FOX News Network. Archived from the original on March 7, 2010. Retrieved January 4, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. "Judge from Southwest Virginia rejects sniper's request for new name". timesnews.net. July 30, 2011. Retrieved January 4, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  30. "Lee Boyd Malvo, 10 years after D.C. area sniper shootings: 'I was a monster'". The Washington Post. September 29, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. Sager, Ian and Stump, Scott."D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo: I was sexually abused by my accomplice" Today. October 24, 2012.

External links