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Mildred Muhammad, Author and Ex-Wife of D.C. Sniper

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Mildred Muhammad
Monday, October 5, 2009; 12:00 PM

For three weeks in October 2002, an anonymous gunman terrorized the Washington region, killing 10 people at random. Who could do such a thing? And why?

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Mildred Muhammad wondered that, too, until federal agents knocked on her door and began asking questions about John Muhammad, her ex-husband and the father of her children.

An excerpt from her book, "Scared Silent: The Mildred Muhammad Story," released Oct. 13, was published in The Washington Post Magazine. She wasonline Monday, Oct. 5 to take questions about the book and her discovery that her ex-husband had become the D.C. sniper.

The transcript is below.

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Mildred Muhammad: Good Afteroon,

I am Mildred Muhammad, author of Scared Silent. Thank you for responding to the Washington Post online discussion.

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Las Vegas, NV: You have an impressive family photo in the paper.

Once John was identified and arrested. Were you children treated differently at school with mean comments and teasing or were people generally concerned and trying to help them? Did teachers go out of their way to help at this tough time?

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question and your comment.

My children were treated differently. My son was threatened with being harmed by classmates. My daughters were also. However, many of the children protected them because they knew them BEFORE the incident occurred and they remain friends with them to this day.

Some teachers helped them to process what was happening to them and became their friends to this day.

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Clinton, Md: As-Salaam Alaikum, I still have questions regarding the incidents that took place in 2002. My question is do you believe there were others involved and that John and Malvo were fall guys or acted alone?

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

I believe that they acted alone. They were not the fall guys.

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Anonymous: With the label of "ex-wife of the DC sniper", have you received backlash from the community and has your life been threaten in anyway? Also, God Bless you and your children.

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

Yes I have. I was told that if I'd stay with John, then he would have only killed me. Had I stayed on the West Coast, then the individuals on the East Coast would not have been killed.

I was told that my children and I are not victims because we were not killed or harmed physically in anyway.

And my children and I have not received any victims compensation or victims resources to get back on our feet because we are not considered victims.

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Cary, North Carolina: If/when your ex-husband is executed, will you or your children attend?

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

My children and I will not attend the execution.

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Silver Spring, MD: Were there times during your marriage that you were afraid for your safety or the safety of your children?

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

I wasn't afraid until we separated and he began coming in the house in the middle of the night. He would stand over me and I had to watch him without him knowing I was watching. When he told me that I had became his enemy and as his enemy he would kill me, I knew I had to find a way to leave with my children.

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Potomac, MD: It's not your fault that you married this maniac, settled in the area, and thereby brought down this reign of suburban terror on us all; however, I'm sure you can appreciate that it's now quite a shock and unpleasant reminder to see that you are now poised to profit from sales of your book about the events. As one who was fortunately just a scared spectator I would rather we just quietly put your ex- away and move on with our lives, since there's nothing really constructive to be gained from learning any more about the craziness and the principal players. The actual victims must feel even more strongly about this. Are you planning to contribute any profits from your book to the victims or to the general public for all of the time and expense that went into resolving your personal domestic situation?

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

My personal situation has not been resolved. My issues of domestic violence were not address in the court when John was arrested.

I wrote the book to help other women who may find themselves in this situation or something similiar to it and hope they don't fall in the same pitfalls I fell into trying to get assistance from law enforcements

I dedicated this book to my children so they would know the truth about this whole issue.

I also have a comprehensive safety plan along with victim/survivor resources for women who are looking for assistance in leaving an abusive relationship.

My children and I do not take responsibility for any of John's actions. To pay any compensation to anyone would be stating that we hold some responsibility for his actions.

I am his ex-wife. I divorced him October 6, 2000 while living in a shelter trying to find someone to assist me in finding my children whom he kidnapped and took to Antigua without my knowledge.

There is so much more to the story than the sound bites everyone has heard on the news.

It is unfortunate that even the general public don't look upon my children and I as victims. Law enforcement didn't. Had we been physically injured or killed then perhaps the responses would be different. I would not be alive today to know the difference.

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Ann Arbor, Michigan: When you first heard about the shootings, did it ever occur to you initially that your husband was the culprit? Also, have you thought about being a victim's advocate? I only wish the best for you and your children.

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question

I did not know it was John. I was looking for two caucasians in a white boxed truck like everyone. It wasn't until ATF knocked on my door and took me to the police station for questioning that I was told they were going to name him as the sniper.

I am an advocate for victims/survivors of domestic violence. You may visit my website to find out more. www.MildredMuhammad.com

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Maryland: What advice to you have for other women who are either living with or separated from potentially violent men?

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

Be strategic in your decisions. Have a safety plan established so you will know what to do. There is one on my website, www.afterthetrauma.org under resources. Just fill in the blanks. Step 8 tells you what you should take with you.

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Washington: You knew this guy much better than many people. What do you think transformed him to become evil? Was it before or after he joined the military? Did you try to help him be a productive person? If so what did you do and why was effort rejected?

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

He changed when he returned from the Gulf War Desert Storm. He wasn't the same man that left.

I did try to get him help, but he felt he didn't need help. He didn't want anyone to know his emotional state or what he was thinking.

He did not receive de-briefing or counseling when he returned from Saudi.

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Durham, NC: Is there a lesson we can take from this tragedy?

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

Yes...You don't have to have physical scars to be a victim or survivor of domestic violence.

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Atlanta, GA: Thank you for sharing your story and for having the strength and courage to survive what must have been a horrible period in your life.

Could you tell us how your life is now? I'm interested to know how you've gone about addressing the multitude of issues and emotions you and your children must have endured.

What are your plans for the future? Thanks.

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

I began a nonprofit organization, After The Trauma, that assist survivors of domestic violence. The website is www.afterthetrauma.org to learn more about it. I also publish a monthly newsletter online. If you are interested, sign up on the site.

I have become a National Spokesperson on domestic violence. I have married again, August 4, 2007. My son is in college and my daughters attend performing arts school.

Emotionally, my children and I are doing well. We are handling this one day at a time, as we always have and talk to each other about how we feel.

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Washington, DC: When did become apparent to you that Mr. Muhammad state of mind was fragile?

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

When he returned from the Gulf War.

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Washington, DC: When are you coming to the DC area for a book signing?

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

www.MildredMuhammad.com has my schedule for book signings.

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Deanna, Damascus, Md.: What have you told your children? Are you honest with them? Are they able to comprehend what their father did? Do people in their lives (school, play groups, church)know who their father is and how are the children treated?

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

My children and I watched all the news programs. I wanted them to know what the general public thought of their dad.

The people in their lives know who their dad is and they treat them with respect, compassion and sensitivity to the issue.

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Arlington, VA: How much did you rely on your faith to get you through this experience?

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your question.

COMPLETELY!!!

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Rockville, MD: I have to admit that before reading the excerpt I felt the same as some others (like maybe it was crass to be profiting from the situation), but after reading it, I was reminded that you all were most definitely victims.

I just hope that you & your children hold your heads high. What strength God has graced you with. I admire you for endeavoring to help other women who find themselves in similar frustrating & frightening situations.

Peace.

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your comment. Please visit both of my websites, www.afterthetrauma.org, www.MildredMuhammad.com.

You made my day!!!

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Washington, D.C.: Thank you Ms. Muhammad for taking these questions, even the hard ones. In an earlier response, you seem to suggest that if you were to share proceeds from your book sales with the victim's families, that would be like admitting you had some responsibility for what happened to their loved ones. I find this answer disappointing. Can you at least tell us that a certain percentage of proceeds from book sales will go to the work you are doing through your non-profit on domestic violence issues? I share the earlier participant's concern about the appropriateness of profiting from this tragedy.

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for responding.

A certain percentage will go into After The Trauma. I answered the question that was asked.

My passion is with my organization and assisting the many women who don't have the physical scars to prove they are victims and survivors. 20% of domestic violence is physical, 80% is not. The 80% don't get the help they need and I am working hard in After The Trauma to assist those that come to us for help.

The percentage from my book will help me to move freely in what needs to be done. So much work is needed and I'm committed to doing that.

Thank you again.

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Centreville, VA: your lack of compassion for the real victims of the DC sniper makes me sick. I was at the home depot when the FBI agent got killed. I saw her blood on the sidewalk. And you're the victim? You're the one begging me to buy your book?

I really can't express the amount of disgust I have for you.

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your comment.

I am not begging you to purchase my book. I am trying, with all that I know to do, to assist victims and survivors of domestic violence.

I am praying for the continuous healing of the victims' families as they remember their loss.

I'm sorry you feel the way you do about me. It is unfortunate and you have a right to your feelings, your opinions and your beliefs.

I am not responsible for those who were killed. John is.

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Bowie, MD: I would simply like to comment on the post from "Potomac." The bitterness displayed in your post is what leads to same type of bitterness that brought about this reign of terror. And to hoist the blame on someone who was simply trying to make a better life for her children and herself is reprehensible. This woman could not have prevented that man from doing anything that he did. He obviously is disturbed and would have committed those acts regardless of anyone else's actions.

Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for your post.

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Mildred Muhammad: Thank you for this opportunity to answer questions. Please visit www.afterthetrauma.org. We are trying to assist survivors of domestic violence.

Sincerely,

Mildred Muhammad

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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