- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Fairfax County police yesterday charged with murder the man who was convicted of giving authorities false information after one of the 2002 sniper shootings in Virginia.

Matthew M. Dowdy, 40, was charged in the stabbing death of Judy J. Coate, 31.

Her body was found Sept. 27 near the 7200 block of Lee Highway, and police identified her the next day. She was last seen the evening of Sept. 23.

Police arrested Mr. Dowdy at 12:30 p.m. yesterday at the Stratford Motor Lodge in Falls Church. They said interviews and evidence collected at the crime scene led them to him.

Officer Richard Henry, a county police spokesman, said investigators are trying to determine whether Mr. Dowdy lived at the motor lodge or was staying there.

Officer Henry said it was not clear whether there had been any relationship between Mr. Dowdy and Miss Coate.

In 2003, Mr. Dowdy was sentenced to the maximum six months in jail and $1,000 fine on a charge of obstruction of justice, a Class 2 misdemeanor.

He had told police on Oct. 14, 2002, that he witnessed the shooting of FBI analyst Linda Franklin, 47, in the parking garage of a Home Depot in Falls Church.

Mr. Dowdy reported seeing an “olive-skinned man” fire a shot from an AK-47 assault rifle and flee in a cream-colored Ford Astro van that was missing a left taillight.

Police, who already were on the lookout for a white box truck, followed numerous leads based on the false information.

Police discredited Mr. Dowdy’s account after security cameras indicated that he had been inside the store at the time of the shooting.

Mr. Dowdy was arrested four days after the shooting.

Mr. Dowdy had several convictions on minor charges in Fairfax County in recent years, the most serious being petty larceny.

He had been arrested several times after his obstruction-of-justice conviction but was not convicted on any other charge, police said.

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