- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2003

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Lee Boyd Malvo and John Allen Muhammad stood naked near lockers outside the shower room at the YMCA here. Both were silent as Border Patrol Agent Keith M. Olson approached. He was looking for the teenage boy identified by Bellingham police as an illegal alien.

“Are you Lee Malvo?” asked the agent as he cautiously positioned himself to face the two men, already aware of the answer after talking to officials at Bellingham High School where the teenager had attended school, and obtaining the boy’s YMCA membership card, which included his picture.

“Yes, that’s my name,” the boy replied politely.

“Muhammad never looked at me,” Mr. Olson said during a recent interview at Border Patrol sector headquarters in Blaine, Wash.

“He stared into his locker, saying Malvo was not with him. I asked him to turn around and he refused. He offered no resistance, but he did not want me to see his face.”

Mr. Olson, who has been subpoenaed to testify in the Muhammad trial now under way in Virginia Beach, transported the teenager to the station and took digital fingerprints that were added to a database containing prints of 10 million foreigners arrested or detained in the United States.

“Once I had him [in] custody, I processed him as I have done hundreds of others,” Mr. Olson said. “I did my job, nothing more.”

The fingerprints led to the arrest of the suspects in the Washington-area sniper shooting and were matched by the FBI to ones lifted at the site of a Sept. 21, 2002, killing in Montgomery, Ala.

Mr. Olson had tracked Mr. Malvo to the YMCA after a Dec. 19, 2001, domestic dispute reported by Bellingham police. His mother, Uma Sceon James, told officers that Mr. Muhammad was trying to manipulate Mr. Malvo, but when neither she nor the boy could produce legal identification, the matter was referred to the Border Patrol.

Mrs. James told Border Patrol agents she and her son were stowaways on a ship arriving in Miami and, following agency policy, Mr. Olson recommended them for immediate deportation.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service overturned his request when Mrs. James told a contradictory story, and released the pair until a deportation hearing scheduled in November — then about 11 months away.

Within weeks of his release, Mr. Malvo was on the road again with Mr. Muhammad, and by September they were suspects in a murderous killing spree that left 11 persons dead and four others wounded in Virginia, Maryland, the District and Alabama.

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