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Lee Boyd Malvo was one of the vicious snipers who bred fear in the Washington, D.C. area for more than 20 days in 2002.
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The police initially had a difficult time getting a handle on the shooting—there appeared to be no pattern, and the victims ranged greatly in age.
After the ninth fatality, Malvo and Muhammad sent a letter to the police asking for $10 million to end their reign of terror. But several calls made by an unknown man who claimed to be the sniper—possibly Malvo or Muhammad—and advised authorities and two priests to check out a robbery-homicide in Montgomery, Alabama,
led to a break in the case. Malvo had left a fingerprint on a document that was found at the scene, and ultimately helped authorities solve the case.
On October 24, 2002, police surrounded the vehicle where Muhammad and Malvo were sleeping, and arrested them. Some reports stated that only Malvo's fingerprints were found on the weapon used for most of the shootings. However, Malvo reportedly later testified that Muhammad was the triggerman on the first six shootings.
Because the shootings happened in several different states, there was some discussion as to which one would get to try the pair first. They were tried separately, and much was made of the unusually strong hold that Muhammad had on Malvo during his defense. During his trial, prosecutors produced letters that Malvo wrote to another inmate as evidence that Malvo was no mere puppet of Muhammad's. The letters revealed a more sinister, calculating side to Malvo, as he encouraged a fellow inmate in his writing to look for opportunities to escape and to deceive the authorities. He wrote: "I play the stupid fool. Look at how I act and speak—everybody underestimates me. ... It gives me the edge I need to study, conquer and overcome," according to a CNN.com report.
His supposed act didn't fool the jury: In December 2003, Malvo was convicted in the murder of FBI analyst Linda Franklin in Church Falls, Virginia. He was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The following year, Malvo reached a plea agreement for the murder and attempted murder of two people in Virginia's Spotsylvania County. For these crimes, he received two more life sentences. In 2009, Malvo was sentenced to life in prison for six murders that he committed, along with Muhammad, in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Malvo is currently incarcerated at Virginia's Red Onion State Prison, a maximum security facility.
In a television interview with actor William Shatner in 2010, Malvo stated for the first time that two other men were initially involved in planning the 2002 sniper attacks, but ended up backing out. The interview spurred several news reports and prompted further questioning by police, but Malvo's claims of co-conspirators were later thrown out by investigators.
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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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