Meyers’s brother Bob still keeps that watch, with its gold trim and old-fashioned, rectangular face, in a case inside his Pennsylvania home. It’s a symbol of a stopped life and of a fearful time.
Ten years after snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo terrorized the region by shooting indiscriminately at people doing the mundane things of their daily lives, the memories of white vans, tarot cards and zigzagging though parking lots have somewhat faded. (Related:
Lee Boyd Malvo, 10 years after the sniper shootings: “I was a monster”)
But for Bob Meyers and others directly affected by the sniper shootings, getting on with their lives has meant holding on to a piece of that past.
Meyers has the Timex. Across the country, there are other mementos: a wooden box wrapped in black hair bands that contains a slain mother’s jewelry; a retired policeman’s thin logbook with a notation that still brings him to tears.
Ten years ago, Dean Meyers, then a 53-year-old civil engineer living in Gaithersburg, became one of the 15 people slain in a cross-country spree that climaxed in the Washington region during three terrifying weeks in October. Seven others were wounded. In the D.C. area, 10 people were killed and three wounded between Oct. 2 and the day the snipers were arrested, Oct. 24.
The victims were selected at random by Muhammad, then 41, an itinerant former soldier, stickup man and con artist, and his sidekick Malvo, a Jamaican teenager, who roved the area in a broken-down car, armed with a stolen rifle.
They chose unsuspecting targets, caught at vulnerable moments — a man mowing a lawn, a cabdriver buying gasoline, a nanny vacuuming a car.
And they spread terror across the region, from Baltimore to Richmond, as they picked off innocents, left ghastly murder scenes and made potential targets of millions of local residents.
People were afraid to buy gas, or go to the grocery store, or cross the street.
The killing seemed unstoppable.
Local and state police, as well as federal law enforcement agencies, appeared helpless.
At one point, then-Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose wept with anger and frustration during a news conference after the snipers shot and wounded a 13-year-old on his way to school.
A hero in the end, Moose feared that the snipers might never be caught and that he would fail the community.
Finally, a description of the killers’ car and its license number were leaked to the public.
And early on the morning of Oct. 24, acting on a tip, a SWAT team seized the suspects as they slept in their car at a highway rest stop near Frederick. The sniper rifle was found stashed behind the back seat.