Mildred Muhammad says if the police and others “had just listened” to her, the victims of the D.C. sniper might still be alive and ex-husband John Allen Muhammad would not be facing execution next week.
“If they just would have listened, if they just would have put his name in the [National Crime Information Center], if he had been debriefed, if he had been counseled,” she said, shaking her head in hindsight about the preventive measures that might have averted the 2002 sniper shooting spree.
Speaking in the suburban Washington office of her nonprofit anti-domestic violence organization, After the Trauma, Mrs. Muhammad maintained that Muhammad conducted the sniper spree as an elaborate ruse to disguise his plans to kill her and reclaim the three children he lost in their divorce in 1999.
“It’s unfortunate that innocent lives were lost because John wanted to cover up my murder,” she said.
Muhammad and his accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, then a teenager, terrorized the area during a three-week killing spree in October 2002 that left 10 people dead. Muhammad was sentenced to death for the murder of Dean Harold Meyers at a Manassas gas station and is scheduled to be executed Tuesday. Malvo was sentenced to life without parole.
Lawyers for Muhammad have filed for clemency from Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine on the grounds that their client is mentally ill. They are seeking a stay of execution from the U.S. Supreme Court.
Now, Mrs. Muhammad’s main mission is getting the public to realize that victims of domestic violence do not have to show scars to prove abuse. Verbal, psychological, financial abuse and stalking — all of which she suffered toward the end of her dozen years with Muhammad - are insidious forms of domestic violence that often occur long before the bruises, beatings and even death.
She has written a book about her experience, called “Scared Silent,” which was released last month. She said the date was timed to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month and was set before a Virginia judge scheduled Muhammad’s execution date.
“It is not to explain or get notoriety,” she said of the book.
Based on how her ex-husband interacted with his own children, Mrs. Muhammad said she is certain Muhammad manipulated Malvo, whom she never met. She agreed to testify on Malvo’s behalf at her children’s insistence because they blamed their father for his accomplice’s actions.
“They thought [Malvo] was a good person. They had fun with him. They went swimming with him, and that’s what friends do,” she said. “That’s why they asked me to help Lee. They said, ‘Mommy, you have to help Lee because if it wasn’t for Daddy, he wouldn’t be where he is.’ ”
“Lee was a victim, too,” she said.
But to get someone to kill another human being? “You don’t know John,” she said.
She added that once Malvo was away from Muhammad, “a different person emerged and he was remorseful.” After he was captured, the teen sniper sent letters to victims’ families “telling them how sorry he was.”