Montgomery detectives are looking into sniper's claim of additional victims

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 3, 2010; B05

Montgomery County detectives are investigating recent claims by convicted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo that he and John Allen Muhammad shot additional people during their rampage in 2002 that left 10 people dead in the Washington area, officials said Monday.

"If nobody follows through on these latest statements, there are going to be questions out there," Assistant Montgomery Police Chief Drew Tracy said.

The claims were aired recently on the cable channel A&E, as part the series "Aftermath With William Shatner," in which the former "Star Trek" star revisits high-profile news stories. In a phone interview with Shatner, Malvo said he and Muhammad shot 42 people.

Their rampage began in February 2002 in Tacoma, Wash., and ended in the Washington region. They were linked to 27 shootings. Law enforcement officials in Virginia dismissed Malvo's claims last week as nonsense.

Tracy, the assistant Montgomery chief, said the claims might turn out to be nonsense. Montgomery detectives have visited Malvo twice recently at Red Onion State Prison, in Wise County, Va., where he is serving a life sentence without parole. The visits haven't yielded new information about additional killings.

"I know of no open homicides that would point the finger at Malvo or Muhammad," Tracy said. "We have no factual information that there are additional shootings."

But he said that a task force that investigated the case years ago was based in Montgomery and that police there have a responsibility to look into the claims.

Montgomery detectives want to speak with the psychiatrist, Neil Blumberg, who said Malvo told him of about 42 shootings as well, and they want to see whether A&E has additional material that could be helpful. Detectives will try to gather more information and interview Malvo in the next three to five weeks, Tracy said.

"If he lied, at least we can put that to rest," Tracy said.

Paul B. Ebert, the Prince William County commonwealth's attorney who prosecuted Muhammad, earlier said, "I don't think there's much credence to [Malvo's] claim."

He noted the nationwide scope of the investigation and said: "Any unsolved shooting was looked at. Maybe a couple slipped through the cracks, but not many."

Malvo's youth was an issue during his trial, and a jury in Chesapeake, Va., declined to impose the death penalty sought by Fairfax County prosecutors. Muhammad was executed in Virginia in November. He was 48.

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