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John Allen Muhammad became an infamous figure as part of a sniper team that terrorized the Washington, DC, area for several weeks in October 2002
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They were involved in a liquor store shooting in Alabama before beginning their assault on the Washington, D.C. area in October. Muhammad's ex-wife Mildred and his three children lived in nearby Maryland and there were reports that Muhammad stalked the family around the time of sniper attacks.
A skilled mechanic, Muhammad put his talents to evil use,
making a sniper nest out of the trunk of his car. He and Malvo worked as team in the shooting with one man firing the rifle while the other watched the victims. They often targeted people doing simple, everyday tasks, such as pumping their gas or leaving a store. In total, they killed 10 people and injured three others in the D.C. area.
After several killings, Muhammad and Malvo began to taunt the police. They left a note on a tarot card that read: "Mister policeman, I am God" after one shooting. The police were stumped as there seemed to be no motive or pattern to the attacks. Then the snipers demanded $10 million to stop shooting. But the real break in the case came from phone calls to a tip line and to two priests from someone claiming to be the sniper. He pointed them in the direction of an earlier Alabama shooting. At the scene of that crime, Malvo had dropped a brochure, which had one of his fingerprints on it. That fingerprint was matched on file with the immigration records, giving the authorities their first suspect.
On October 24, more than 20 days after the rampage began, the authorities surrounded the vehicle in which Muhammad and Malvo. They were taken into custody and arrested. Since they committed their crimes in several states, the authorities had to decide where the pair should be tried first. Muhammad and Malvo had separate trials. In his defense, his lawyers pointed to Malvo as the sole triggerman. Still a 2003 jury for the murder of Dean Harold Meyers recommended that he be sentenced to death. And he was convicted on six counts of murder in another trial in Maryland in 2006. Malvo testified against Muhammad during this trial, saying that Muhammad had pulled the trigger on the first six shootings.
Muhammad served his sentence at Sussex I State Prison in Virginia, until his death by lethal injection on November 10, 2009.
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Armed and ruthless, spree killers become infamous for turning a flash of anger and resentment into a deadly rampage. Columbine killer Dylan Klebold introduced America to the horrors of school shootings when he killed 13 students and teachers in 1999, and in 2007 Seung-Hui Cho made us relive the nightmare when he murdered 32 people at Virginia Tech. In the end killers like these often become their own victims, when they turn their weapons on themselves.
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