For TV, Malvo boosts sniper rampage's victim count

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 30, 2010; B04

Convicted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, in a telephone interview with actor William Shatner, now says he and John Allen Muhammad shot 42 people during their rampage in 2002, a claim that those who investigated the case say is ridiculous.

Malvo's latest account of the killing rampage -- which began in February 2002 in Tacoma, Wash., and ended with 13 shootings, 10 of them fatal, in the Washington region in October 2002 -- was scheduled to air Thursday night on the cable channel A&E. The show was to launch the series "Aftermath With William Shatner," in which the former "Star Trek" star and spokesman revisits high-profile cases.

"I think Malvo's full of crap," said Lt. Bruce Guth, the Fairfax County homicide detective who headed the task force that helped convict Malvo of capital murder in 2003 in connection with the 10 Washington area slayings. "He's changed his story at least five or six different times."

Guth said that when Fairfax detectives first interrogated Malvo, then 17, after his arrest in October 2002, Malvo took credit for most of the D.C. area shootings. "Then, when his attorneys and psychiatrists got to him, Muhammad was doing the shootings," Guth said.

Guth said producers of the show told him that Malvo had admitted for the first time to a shooting along Route 1 in Northern Virginia. Fairfax and Alexandria police scoured their files for any unsolved shootings along the highway before Malvo's arrest and couldn't find one, Guth said.

In conversations with Shatner and forensic psychiatrist Neil Blumberg, Malvo, now 25, also said he and Muhammad had conspirators, an assertion not made before. But no one else took part in any of the sniper attacks, and conspirators were shot and killed by Malvo or shot and killed by Muhammad after backing out, according to the accounts Malvo offered Shatner and Blumberg.

Blumberg said Thursday that he had agreed with A&E not to discuss his interviews with Malvo until after the show aired.

Raymond F. Morrogh, the Fairfax commonwealth's attorney, said there is no evidence of other conspirators. "It's always been Malvo and Muhammad, that's it," said Morrogh, who prosecuted the case with his predecessor, Robert F. Horan Jr. "There wasn't anyone else involved."

Morrogh said Malvo's interview was "a ploy to get attention, and it's a shame that people give him the attention. He harmed a lot of people, and he should be sitting in silence, contemplating the crimes he committed and not being interviewed by Captain Kirk."

Paul B. Ebert, the Prince William County commonwealth's attorney who prosecuted Muhammad, said, "I don't think there's much credence to his claim of 40-something murders." He noted the nationwide scope of the investigation, by local and federal authorities, and said: "Any unsolved shooting was looked at. Maybe a couple slipped through the cracks, but not many."

Malvo is serving a life sentence without parole at Red Onion State Prison in Wise County, Va. Malvo's youth was an issue during his trial, and a jury in Chesapeake, Va., declined to impose the death penalty sought by Fairfax prosecutors. Police ultimately connected Malvo and Muhammad to 22 shootings across the country, 15 of them fatal. Muhammad was executed in Virginia in November. He was 48.

An A&E news release trumpets the idea that other people were involved.

Malvo "claims that the three extra snipers were going to use silenced rifles to create terror along the entire Eastern Seaboard," A&E says in the release, "but they eventually backed out of the plan, which, according to Malvo's forensic psychiatrist Dr. Blumberg, resulted in Muhammad commanding Malvo to kill two of them for not following through."

The release adds, "Blumberg elaborates on what Malvo confesses, and according to him, there was a co-conspirator in New York who provided weapons, one in Florida who provided credit cards and false documents and a third in Arizona who provided explosives."

Blumberg said the release accurately characterized his contribution to the show. Like Morrogh and Ebert, Guth said there is no evidence of other conspirators.

Guth said Malvo was "a convicted serial killer who ruined a lot of lives, and a lot of people have trouble believing anything he says. It seems everything he does is self-serving. I don't believe a word he says."

Michael S. Arif, Malvo's trial attorney, said he did not know of the interview and would not comment. Representatives of A&E did not return calls seeking comment Thursday.

View all comments that have been posted about this article.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company