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tv   I Married the Beltway Sniper  MSNBC  November 19, 2011 1:00pm-1:40pm PST

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somebody got shot. >> yeah, somebody shot here. he is bleeding like a mother bleep. bleeding bad. >> a woman was walk to go her car when something blew up. >> breathing, still breathing.
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he's not doing too good. >> i stated earlier, everyone knows all about citizens are and have been at risk. your children are not safe anywhere at any time. >> in october of 2002, the beltway snipers terrorized the washington, d.c. area with a series of random murders. >> it could be anybody. someone at a gas station, at a grocery store. people going about their daily life. >> i thought maybe we have a spree killer, maybe we have a terrorist type killer. death hung in the air in washington in october, and you could feel it. >> over three weeks, ten people are shot dead.
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as police search for answers, they set their sights on the ultimate target, the woman that knows him better than anyone else. >> i was a dead woman. i knew it. i just couldn't get anybody else to believe it. >> to this day, questions remain about the killers and their motive for the attacks. >> citizens in the washington area and experts alike are asking what kind of person could be committing these murders. >> these are skillful killers. they're more crafty than crazy. otherwise, they wouldn't get away with murder over a long period of time. for the first time using trial testimony and rare audio record, he reveals what drove them to kill. >> at that moment there's you and nobody else. there's a bond there.
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>> was mal video a ruthless murderer? >> the first victim of the d.c. sniper shootings was leroy malvo. >> i don't think it is true, he was no prisoner of war. >> did john allen muhammad have a motive we haven't heard? >> he told me you have become my enemy and as my enemy, i will kill you. >> beyond the headlines and frantic 9 # 1 calls, journalists, law enforcement, and victims who lived through the terror and those who know the snipers best reveal the true story of the beltway snipers chlts. >> until then, get the body bags.
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>> a man fell in the parking lot, there was a loud noise, not sure if he was shot. >> october 2nd, 2002. montgomery, county, maryland. just outside washington, d.c. a man is shot dead at a bustling suburban grocery store. >> an unusual thing to be happening right around dinner, broad daylight, really, and it seemed like the pop, pop came from a rifle. the police had no idea what the motive was. and they could not tell from the crime scene where the shot had come from. >> what appears to be a random crime in this washington, d.c. suburb is only the beginning.
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the next day, terror takes hold. >> 911 emergency. >> this guy did something that chopped him off and he's bleeding real bad. >> around 7:30 this morning, a man was riding a lawnmower in the 11,400 block. he was just doing his job, cutting grass. >> the victim is identified as 39-year-old james "sonny" buchanan. he also ran a small landscaping business. that is what he was doing here today when he lost his life. >> it started out early in the morning. sonny buchanan was mowing a lawn, suddenly a loud boom and he fell to the ground. and someone who saw it thought that maybe the lawnmower had backfired. >> authorities and residents
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wonder who would be bold enough to murder an innocent man in broad daylight. >> at 23 years old, john allen muhammad, then named john williams, meets mildred green. >> my impression of john was for the first time i met a man, because he said what he meant and he meant what he said. he was charming. he was a strong man. i knew i needed to be with him. we got married march 10th, 1988. i was feeling really good about my life with him. i knew that we would be together forever, i just knew that it would be a till death do us part. >> on the surface, john seems like the perfect husband.
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their family begins to grow. >> we promised each other, because neither one of us grew up with a father, that our children would have a mother and a father in the home and we would be there to raise them together. and he felt confident enough to take the test to go into active duty, ft. louis, washington, was his first station. >> in march of 1991 he was deployed to saudi arabia. though he spends less than a year abroad, the experience changes him forever. >> when i saw him, totally different man. he was reserved, quiet, small, sad. and when we got home, he just
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went and sat in a chair and he just sat. and he would do this for hours, just sit. >> what he says for sure is that he was mistreated when he served in the persian gulf. when he came back from that experience in the '90s very bitter, very angry about this country, angry toward america, toward his family, toward his wife. >> we were a couple but he was different. he did not want me to get close to him anymore. he didn't want me to know his feelings. as soon as little john came in the room, his whole world lit
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up. he would get on the floor and play with him. john was his escape once he came back from saudi. i really don't know what happened to john, but i know something happened. but whatever it was, it changed him completely. into who he was about to become within and eventually it will come out. congratulations. congratulations. congratulations. today, the city of charlotte can use verizon technology to inspire businesses to conserve energy and monitor costs. making communities greener... congratulations. ... and buildings as valuable to the bottom line... whoa ! ... as the people inside them. congratulations.
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fire and ambulance. >> oh, my god, a man is dead. >> ma'am, listen to me.
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what is wrong? >> a man has been killed in front of me. >> who? >> i don't know. >> let's get right to the headlines. two murders this morning in montgomery county, the shootings only a mile or so apart. police are still trying to find out whether they're related to yet another murder last night. >> i'm at a mobile gas station at connecticut avenue and aspen hill road. where about 8:15 this morning, a cab driver who was filling up his cab with gas, was shot and killed. >> i know he's in heaven for a fact, you know, because he never hurt anything. anybody. he's a good person. >> he had a message to the people responsible or the person responsible, what would you say? >> just stop. turn yourself in. there's nothing in your life
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that justifies killing innocent victims the way that you've done so far. >> by the summer of 1997, john and mildred williams have three young children and a marriage that is falling apart. >> he no longer wore bright colors. he only wore black, black sweatshirt, black jeans. just different person but still laughing and playing and, you know, not giving off that something is really going on inside. so it was very difficult to read him. >> according to mildred, her husband's change from family man to hardened killer happens before her very eyes. >> he was very in control of his emotions. he knew how to control his facial expressions.
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he knew when to display them, when not to. what affect he wanted to obtain and how to go about getting it, so that no one would be able to read him. when i look back on that, i believe those were warning signs. >> now a member of the nation of islam, john williams changes his name to john allen muhammad. with that name change comes new anger and more bizarre behavior. >> he felt discriminated against, because he was a black american. i think he felt also as a member of the nation of islam that muslims were being discriminated against, and i think that if you put all of these things together, they only added to his feeling of victimization, that
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he must have had from childhood on. >> it just got worse and worse. in july i asked him for a divorce, july of 1999. i expected him to say, okay. but he didn't. he said i need to talk to you. we go into the garage. and he says, you are not going to raise my children by yourself. you have become my enemy. and as my enemy i will kill you. it's the look he had in his eye. he's a man of his word. he says what he means and he means what he says. and this man was going to kill me. >> this threat escalates mildred's fear to a new level. she demands that muhammad leave the house.
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>> when john was no longer living with us, he still had a key to the house. so i'm in the back bedroom. i heard the key going in the lock and turn and the handle open, and i knew he was coming. and my spirit said, be still. don't move. and i was motionless but i watched him.
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i felt if i had moved or if he had known that i knew he was there, then i would have been killed. >> mildred worries john is a threat to her safety. but has no legal right to keep him from his children. and no reason to believe he would hurt them. >> he's very good with children. he's very good with children. >> he picked them up on the 23rd, i think, which was a friday. monday morning, no children. i called the school thinking maybe he took them to school for
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me. the secretary said, well, ms. muhammad, you can keep calling as much as you'd like but they're not here today. butterflies were just flying around in my stomach. i had a bad feeling something was wrong. i called the police and they take a report and they say, well, ms. muhammad, do you have a custody order in place? i said no, we were getting ready to go to court. they said, well, this is custodial interference. he has just as much a right to the children as you do. really there's nothing we can do. >> john takes the children thousands of miles away from mildred, to the caribbean island of antigua.
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>> he told them i was coming. they didn't know they were kidnapped. >> on the island of antigua, he, again, lied about who he was. he had all kinds of aliases. he said he was on a vacation with his kids, got them enrolled in school and basically was starting a whole new life. >> this new life in antigua leads john allen muhammad to a leads john allen muhammad to a friendship destined for infamy. it's like having portable navigation, a bluetooth connection, a stolen-vehicle locator, roadside assistance, and something that could help save your life -- automatic help in a crash. it's the technology of five devices in one hardworking mirror. because life happens while you drive. for a limited time, get an onstar fmv mirror
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we need the police at the leisure world plaza. i was putting the letter in the mailbox and i heard a big bang. i couldn't figure out where it was coming from. >> a single bullet hole can be seen directly above the bench where a silver spring woman was sitting when someone shot her at leisure world plaza. police identified the victim as 34-year-old sarah ramos. >> in most of the teams of serial killers that we've seen over the last several decades, there is one dominant member of the team. usually someone who's older, it's someone who appears almost
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god-like, someone who's a father figure and has tremendous influence on the more passive member of the team. and it's that chemistry between them that makes it possible for them to kill. >> born in february of 1985, lee boyd malvo lives a seemingly ordinary life. >> he was a smart, happy little boy. he loved to draw. he did well in school and really he seemed like a pretty balanced child growing up in jamaica. >> life takes a turn when lee is 3 years old. his parents separate, leaving lee without stability and without a father. his mother leaves him for long
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periods of time, dumping him on a friend or relative. >> toward the late '90s she decided she wanted to move from jamaica to antigua and, once again, moved lee out of his environment to another island. >> lee describes a lonely childhood. >> we lived in a one-bedroom shack. an outside toilet, that's it. my mother, we don't have a close relationship at all.
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states. and she left malvo there. >> she was able to get forged papers, a passport and illegal documents to get into the united states. and she left malvo there. she said i'll come back and get you. she left him in a house. he didn't have very much money and he was there by himself. he was lonely. he was unhappy. >> you know adolescence is a very difficult period for even healthy youngsters. and for someone like malvo, whose life was extremely difficult, adolescence was an intolerable, unbearable stage of life. >> with no family to take him in, malvo spends time playing video games in a local electronics shop.
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it's there that he first spots john allen muhammad, still in hiding with his children. >> in this electronics shop he saw this man with this little boy, and the man would call the boy little man. and it just reminded him of his father, and so he was drawn to that. >> i met mr. muhammad. he's a very good listener. i told him about my life, my relationship with my mother, my father.
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in that moment there's only you and him. there's nothing else. they all accepted me as if i was their blood relative. >> according to malvo, he becomes a brother to muhammad's children and muhammad, the father he never had. >> and this gentleman, mr. muhammad, from all indications that i've had, he was a good father. he was a -- he was good to the children. they said he was like a pied piper, the children would all follow him, they just loved him. that's where the bonding started.
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>> after a year on the island, muhammad takes his children and lee malvo back to the states in search of a job. their first stop is florida, where malvo's mother is living. >> when he came here, the bonding was cemented. so lee didn't want to go back to his mother. muhammad was resistant to the mother taking control of lee, but she was determined that she was going to be having her son. and so muhammad was forced to return to washington with his three children, leaving lee in florida. >> over the next several months, muhammad attempts to build a new life for his children in washington state. >> muhammad at that point had enrolled his children in school and was living at this homeless shelter. but he aroused the suspicion of the police, because in applying
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for government aid and getting his children in school, a very smart police officer put it together that, wow, this sounds like the man who took his children, kidnapped them a couple years ago and disappeared. and he put it together, figured it out, contacted mildred muhammad and the case went to court. >> to get the children back, mildred must face the man who threatened her life. >> the custody hearing was september 4th, 2001. i was shaking. i was so scared, i was shaking like a leaf. i'm like this man can snap my neck and what's anybody going to do? i'm dead. >> in the end, the judge awards mildred full custody of the children, stripping john muhammad of the right to see them. as they leave, muhammad makes a final threat.
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>> we look back, john acts like he's going to the courtroom door, puts his hand on the door, looks at me and says, gotcha. my turn to say oh, hell no, you've got to leave tonight. >> mildred takes the children across the country to her sister's home just outside of washington, d.c. even with 3,000 miles between them, mildred still fears her ex-husband will find them. >> he told me you have become my enemy and as my enemy, i will kill you. he was going to find a way to make it happen so it would not come back on him. but i was a dead woman. i knew it. i just couldn't get anybody else to believe me. ♪ ♪ mama said there'd be days like this ♪
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hello, melissa rehberger. celebration in the streets of benghazi as saif gadhafi was captured. firefighters in reno have the wildfire there 65% contained. 15 homes were destroyed by the fire. and six of the top gop candidates are taking questions now at the thanksgiving family forum in iowa. mitt romney and jon hunts man are skipping that event. back to the beltway sniper. a woman was getting into her car, something blew up. she has blood coming out of her nose and mouth. >> blood is coming out of her nose and mouth? >> yes!
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>> so that would be five fatal shootings, five murders within the last 15 hours. >> the last shooting of this morning happened about 10:00 at a gas station in kensington. a woman was shot and killed at the shell station at connecticut and knowles avenue. chris gourden is there with the latest. chris? >> the woman killed here at the kensington shell has been identified as 25-year-old lori lewis rivera of silver spring. >> after losing his children in a custody battle with his ex-wife, john allen muhammad is left alone and bitter in washington state. >> john muhammad just fell apart when his children were taken away. his friends said it was like he had a nervous break down, like somebody snapped.
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>> muhammad calls the only person he has left, lee boyd malvo, still living with his mother in florida. >> he said, you know, i need you to come and help me get the kids back, because they have taken the children. >> and so after all those years of growing up and having his mother abandon him, lee abandoned his mother. he got on a bus and he went all the way across the country to meet john muhammad. >> because the need was so strong to have that parent, that parent that was going to give him what he felt was unconditional love and acceptance. and that's where he went. and the moment he went, the moment he joined him there, the training, the shooting, the indoctrination began. >> i got to washington. he took me to the mission. that's where we lived.
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he introduced me to the nation of islam. we had prayer in the morning. we'd work out every evening. i absorbed everything he taught me. i trusted him and believed him. we went to the rifle range, had me shoot at least eight different weapons, focusing on firing the high-powered rifles. he had books on explosives, military tactics and a marine book on snipers.
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sniper tactics. i was basically practicing concealment for things he wanted me to do later on. we began shooting at paper plates, which were just aiming for the head. that's what it represented, the head. >> muhammad made lee his world. the lee that left jamaica, the lee that left antigua had to be killed.
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the dovish, studious lee had to be destroyed. >> after several months of intense training, muhammad changes the game. he reveals how they will use malvo's new skills to get what is rightfully his. >> he told me he found mildred and the children. they were living in maryland, just a little bit outside of the d.c. metropolitan area. he said we're going to terrorize these people. there were going to be six shots.


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