Carmeta Albarus, who helped Malvo’s defense team in 2003 break the psychological grip Muhammad had exerted over the teenager, said Tuesday she was a witness to the marriage. “I was honored to be there,” Albarus said. “It was a beautiful occasion, given the circumstances of where it took place.”
Albarus declined to provide any specifics about the ceremony or any information about the bride. “She’s an absolutely wonderful individual,” Albarus said. She said the bride and groom “were allowed to hold hands,” but would not say whether they were allowed to kiss or have any further contact.
“I believe the institution was very accommodating,” Albarus said.
The Virginia Department of Corrections declined to confirm the nuptials, saying such events are part of an inmate’s personal record and not subject to mandatory disclosure. An inmate who witnessed the ceremony in Red Onion’s contact visit area said it occurred last Friday over an approximately two-hour visit.
Craig S. Cooley, one of Malvo’s original trial attorneys who has continued to represent Malvo in his appeals, said he had met the bride and found her to be “a very impressive young lady. Educated. Her eyes are wide open.”
Cooley said the woman is close in age to Malvo, but would not give her profession or where she lived. He said she started writing Malvo about two years ago, and then began visiting him some time after that.
“I believe they are soul mates,” Cooley said. “She sees the good and sees Lee as I’ve always seen him, and I think the world would have seen him had Muhammad not taken over his life.”
Malvo was born and raised in Jamaica, then moved with his mother to Antigua at age 14. According to testimony at his trial, Malvo’s mother abandoned him for work on another island, and at 15 he met and moved in with Muhammad, who had absconded to Antigua with his three children.
In 2001, Malvo entered the United States with Muhammad, reunited with his mother in Florida and then rejoined Muhammad in Bellingham, Wash. Muhammad began training Malvo in how to use firearms and indoctrinating him politically, according to trial testimony. Malvo began referring to himself as John Lee Malvo and speaking with an American accent, which Albarus would eventually remind him was not his heritage.
In February 2002, when he was 16, Malvo shot and killed a woman in Tacoma, Wash., at Muhammad’s direction, the first of at least six slayings the pair committed as they traveled toward the D.C. area, where Muhammad’s ex-wife lived with their children. Then, in a three-week period in October 2002, Malvo and Muhammad shot 13 people, 10 of them fatally.
Cooley, arguing that Malvo was fully dominated by Muhammad, convinced a Virginia jury not to give Malvo the death penalty for one of the slayings, that of Linda Franklin in Falls Church, Va. Malvo then entered pleas to another murder in Virginia and six in Maryland.
Muhammad was sentenced to death in the killings and was executed in 2009.
Albarus has watched Malvo grow since 2003, and recalled her “overwhelming sadness that this boy was taken down this path” when she first visited him in Red Onion after his trial. “But when I left there after the wedding, I left with overwhelming joy that two people could find joy the way they have. Lee has enriched her life as much as she has enriched his, and she has the support of her family. It was a beautiful occasion.”
This story has been updated with the date of the marriage.