Sniper Shooter Calls Victim's Daughter
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; 10:23 PM
McLEAN, Va. -- Cheryll Witz was shopping for a birthday cake when her cell phone rang. Waiting to speak to her was one of the nation's most notorious serial killers _ the man who killed her father five years ago. "I need to apologize for what I've done to you and your family," Lee Boyd Malvo told her Sept. 20. Witz stood, "bawling my eyes out," in the aisles of a Costco in Tucson, Ariz.
In March 2002, Malvo shot and killed Witz's father, Jerry Taylor, from long range as he practiced chip shots on a golf-course practice green in Tucson. The slaying was a precursor to a sniper spree that terrorized the Washington, D.C., area, in which the teenage Malvo and partner John Allen Muhammad killed 10 people and wounded three others over a three-week span beginning Oct. 2, 2002.
Malvo placed the call to Witz through a third party. He had initially called a producer at ABC News, who then used three-way calling to connect Malvo to Witz after she agreed to take the call. Witz had previously told the producer she would be interested in speaking with Malvo.
Such calls violate prison policy, said Virginia Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor. He would not comment, though, on Malvo's specific phone calls or whether he has called relatives of any other victims.
A network representative said the producer did not know three-way calls were prohibited, and would not have connected the two had she been aware.
Witz confirmed to The Associated Press that she received the call. She said last week that Malvo broke down at one point as he spoke.
"The first thing he said was, 'I tried to write a letter to you but I couldn't. I didn't know what to say,'" Witz said.
Witz has tried for years to learn more about the circumstances of her father's death, and at one point even wrote to Malvo urging him to divulge what he knew.
Unfortunately, some of what Witz learned from Malvo in the five-minute call was far from comforting.
For personal reasons, Witz did not want to discuss all the details of the call, particularly those surrounding the exact circumstances of her father's death. But she said some of what Malvo said raised more questions in her mind about exactly what happened and why.
"I would like to know why they picked my father," she said.
For several years after Taylor's murder, Malvo was a suspect but the case remained open. Last year, after Witz wrote to Malvo, he confessed his involvement to Tucson police, who now consider the matter closed.