John Allen Muhammad, the D.C. Sniper, will die by lethal injection tomorrow.
John Allen Muhammad and his teenaged accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, terrorized the Washington, D.C. area for three weeks in October 2002. In the end, 10 people were dead and three were wounded. The victims, selected at random, were shot while doing mundane chores like pumping gas and loading Halloween decorations into a car.
I’m sure you remember the terror of the killings. But you may not realize that the killing spree was an escalation of a child custody battle.
Mildred Muhammad, the ex-wife of John Allen Muhammad, spoke at the Battered Mothers Custody Conference in Albany last January. Her story was compelling—and heartbreaking.
Mildred was married to Muhammad for 12 years, and they had three children together. Muhammad served in the Gulf War and when he returned, he became abusive.
“His behavior turned to possessiveness,” Mildred said. “I couldn’t do anything right. He was trained in psychological warfare—he was a combat engineer—and he used me as his guinea pig.”
Muhammad didn’t hit her, but inflicted psychological abuse. “Every emotion I displayed, he used against me,” Mildred said. Finally, in 1999, she asked for a divorce.
Before, during and after their divorce, Muhammad threatened to kill Mildred. He drained their bank account and kidnapped the children, taking them to Antigua for 18 months. Mildred was forced to hide in a women’s shelter for eight months in the Tacoma, Washington area.
She could not afford legal representation. So while in the women’s shelter, Mildred taught herself the law so she could represent herself. Eventually the children were located. Mildred went to court, won her case and was awarded full custody. Then she fled across the country to Maryland.
Muhammad found her. And, Mildred says, that’s why he went on the killing spree. Muhammad planned to kill her, and the rest of the murders were an elaborate ruse to cover up her murder. She would just be another of the random victims, and he could show up as the grieving ex-husband, and claim the children.
Want to win
When John Allen Muhammad was brought to trial, the prosecutor put forth Mildred’s contention that the killing spree was intended cover up the eventual death of his ex-wife. The court, however, ruled that there was insufficient evidence to support the argument.
But after all the stories I’ve heard from Lovefraud readers, I think it’s totally plausible. Sociopaths want to win. Nothing else matters to them. I believe John Allen Muhammad was willing to kill 10 innocent people, at random, just to get his way.
If ever there was a case that demonstrated the lengths a sociopath will go to in order to win, this is it.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Muhammad’s lawyers filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court last week, claiming that the killer is mentally ill and delusional.
But Paul Ebert, the Virginia prosecutor who won Muhammad’s death sentence, said, “This guy had absolutely no conscience. He killed people just like they were flies.”
Mildred also does not believe that her ex-husband is mentally ill.
Support for other victims
Mildred has written a book about her ordeal called Scared Silent. She has also founded an organization in Maryland to support survivors of domestic violence called After the Trauma.
“I started After the Trauma because of my own personal domestic violence experience and thought of all the other women in similar situations who need day-to-day assistance, as I did,” Mildred writes on her website. “After the Trauma is women who are transitioning from a domestic violence situation and are ready to take the next step into ‘freedom.’”
Like many of us here at Lovefraud, Mildred Muhammad has been through an incredible ordeal. And like many of us, she emerged on the other side stronger, and willing to help others along the path to healing.