UPDATE: Documentary to Feature Retired Fairfax Detective Who Helped Solve Sniper Case

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Fairfax County homicide detective who helped crack the case of the Washington area sniper shootings in 2002 has retired, and a documentary film crew came to town last week to feature her work in another high-profile murder case.

June Boyle, 52, was the first detective, along with FBI Special Agent Brad Garrett, to interview 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo after his arrest with John Allen Muhammad in the sniper shootings. The grainy video footage of Boyle accompanying the handcuffed suspect as he climbed out of a van at Fairfax police headquarters, already chatting with him, was replayed endlessly as the sniper prosecutions unfolded.

Boyle led Malvo to an interview room and talked to him about his favorite movies, what he liked to eat and what he wanted to eat that night, and then arranged for someone to deliver him dinner. Finally, when the small talk was over, Malvo agreed to discuss many of the shootings, in which 13 people were shot and 10 died.

The teenager provided many specific details about the slayings and his relationship with Muhammad. It was the only time either suspect spoke to investigators, and the statement was the crux of the case against Malvo, who was convicted in 2003 and sentenced to life in prison. He has since pleaded guilty in several other cases.

"She did a tremendous job of getting Malvo to open up," said Fairfax Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh. "She's so sincere that people open up to her and tell her things they might not otherwise."

Boyle was a robbery detective in 1995 when she was lent to homicide to work on the slaying of Anne Harper, found stabbed to death inside her burning Burke home. Boyle later shifted to homicide full time, stayed with the Harper case and after three years compiled enough evidence to arrest Harper's brother, Matthew, in the slaying.

In 1999, Harper pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and arson and was sentenced to 35 years in prison. The case won Boyle recognition as the Virginia Homicide Investigator of the Year, the first woman so honored.

The case also attracted the attention of a documentary crew for the Oxygen cable network. The crew came to Fairfax last week to interview Boyle for their pilot episode on female investigators who solve big cases, tentatively titled "Relentless." No air date has been set.

Boyle retired in mid-January after 30 years on the force. "It was a great job, great people, but it's very time-consuming and demanding," she said. "I was looking to pursue something new."

-- Tom Jackman

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