10 • THE BLUE CAPRICE
On October 22nd, 2002, authorities in the D.C. Sniper investigation receive some crucial info. And police start to close in on the Snipers’ vehicle.
Tony Harris: 00:00 Welcome to Monster: DC Sniper, a production of iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are solely those of the podcast author or individuals participating in the podcast, and do not represent those of iHeartMedia, Tenderfoot TV, or their employees. Listener discretion is advised.
Isa Nichols: 00:22 It is February 16th, 2002, and my niece is gone.
Tony Harris: 00:29 This is Isa Nichols, the former accountant for John and Mildred Muhammad. She came home from grocery shopping one day to find that her niece, Keenya Cook, had been shot dead in her kitchen.
Isa Nichols: 00:42 I just went into a cold state. I was just on autopilot. My body had just shut down. They started roping off the house, and I saw where Kenya’s head had laid. The bullet casing was still there, and I just saw blood. The back of her head had just been blown out. Now my house is a crime scene.
Isa Nichols: 01:05 We go through burying Keenya, and our family is grieving. It’s a cold case, and we don’t hear anything, and we’re trying to go on with our lives. I’m no longer in the house at this point for several months, but when I do move back into my home, we’re trying to get back into some sense of normalcy, if there’s such a thing.
Isa Nichols: 01:30 My husband and I, we were just going through the motions, and one day, I was at Bible study. This is like the end of October. My pager is going off. It was my husband. I go and I return the call, and he says, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m at Bible study. It’s Thursday.” He said, “Have you looked at the TV?” I said, “I just said I was at Bible study.” He said, “No, no, no, no, no! You need to go home. Meet me at the house.” I’m like, “Why? What’s going on?” He said, “Just meet me at the house.”
Isa Nichols: 02:06 I get to the house, and I turn on the TV, and we had been hearing about these shootings on the East coast. We’re hearing just shots of people pumping gas. A child was shot at school. We’re hearing about a woman getting shot in the head coming out of Home Depot. I think she was an FBI analyst. So everybody’s like, whoa, this ain’t a time to be traveling to the East coast. I actually had clients who canceled flight plans because this was going on.
Isa Nichols: 02:38 We’re listening to all this news and stuff on the West coast, and then I all of a sudden-
Reporter 1: 02:42 The backyard of a duplex here in Tacoma carefully marked off in a grid.
Isa Nichols: 02:48 Up pops a tree trunk at a former client’s house.
Reporter 1: 02:52 For almost nine hours, a deliberate search by hand. Investigators sifting through dirt, then sawing down a tree stump and carting it off. Evidence believed to have been used for target practice, possibly containing bullet fragments.
Isa Nichols: 03:06 There’s these helicopters flying all over the Tacoma community. There’s FBI agents, and ATF. Well, why is the investigation coming to Washington? The DC sniper, they are actually saying it’s linked to Tacoma. At that point in my soul, in my heart, in my mind, I knew I was connected.
Isa Nichols: 03:35 I’m on the couch in fetal position.
Isa Nichols: 03:38 The next thing you know, my husband comes home, and he said, “That’s what I was trying to tell you. It’s John! It’s John!”
George W. Bush: 03:46 There is a ruthless person on the loose.
Reporter 2: 03:49 What unnerves this community the most is the randomness of the murders. Ordinary people doing ordinary things.
Speaker 6: 03:57 They killed the five people in one day, and then went on the rampage for the next month.
Speaker 7: 04:02 It is quite a mystery. The police say they have never had a crime quite like this.
Speaker 8: 04:07 Be careful. These guys are using weapons that are going to go right straight through our bulletproof vests.
Speaker 9: 04:12 There’s a white van just went by with two guys in it.
Tony Harris: 04:16 From iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV, this is Monster: DC Sniper.
Tony Harris: 04:25 October 22nd, 2002. It had been nearly three weeks since the DC sniper attacks began. The investigation had become the largest manhunt in the nation’s history, which meant that expenses for every police agency involved were skyrocketing. Law enforcement had limited resources and limited time to catch the killers, so they had to act fast.
Tony Harris: 04:49 Three days had passed since Jeffrey Hopper became the sniper’s 12th victim at a Ponderosa steakhouse in Ashland, Virginia. Since that time, investigators had connected the DC shootings to a liquor store robbery in Montgomery, Alabama. There police found a fingerprint on an ArmaLite gun catalog. Federal authorities ran that fingerprint through the database of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS, and they got a match. The fingerprint belonged to Lee Boyd Malvo.
Linda Hooper: 05:22 As soon as we found out that his name was referenced in an INS file, we had them pull the file so we could see what was in it. And the other name that came up in that file was actually John Muhammad.
Tony Harris: 05:35 This is Linda Hooper. She was a supervisory special agent for the FBI during the sniper investigation. Hooper immediately started to learn everything she could about Malvo and Muhammad.
Linda Hooper: 05:48 And doing research on John Muhammad, we found out that he had been in the army. He certainly knew weapons. The more we dug into his background and who he was, there was more and more information on his interest in weapons, his practice shooting, target shooting. His involvement with this young boy, 17 year old Malvo. They weren’t related, but Malvo lived with him. He had a very rough, to say the least, early childhood, and not a good situation with his mother, and he was kind of taken in by John Muhammad.
Tony Harris: 06:30 Much of this information came from a man in Tacoma, Washington, named Robert Holmes. He had called the sniper task force with a tip.
Michael Meirick: 06:40 And he had said that he had had a friend that had left the area that was a very militant person, very upset person.
Tony Harris: 06:48 This is Michael [Meirick 00:06:49], a former Lieutenant for the Montgomery, Alabama police. Meirick says the tipster, Robert Holmes, was a former friend of Muhammad’s, and he had served in the military alongside Muhammad.
Michael Meirick: 07:02 He described him as just being very unhappy with life. The guy was very dangerous, and he said, “It just bothers me that all this is happening. His ex-wife lives in the DC area, and,” he said, “he left with a AR-15 Bushmaster rifle.” He says, “Nothing for nothing, but I just want to let you all know. Don’t want to sit on this information.”
Michael Meirick: 07:22 And he had a son named Lee. The friend thought this was his son, at least stepson, and he said the son was a very, very good shot, and they talked about snipers, and they played sniper games.
Tony Harris: 07:33 Isa Nichols actually knew Robert Holmes, the man in Tacoma who called in the tip about John Muhammad.
Isa Nichols: 07:39 Well, John stayed with him. He was a good friend of John. They both were in Fort Lewis together in the military. Both of them former army vets.
Tony Harris: 07:48 Holmes said that a few months before the shooting started in DC, Muhammad stopped by his house. He wanted to test out a homemade silencer for a rifle.
Isa Nichols: 07:57 And in order to see if it worked, he had target practice in his backyard on one of the trees. And so that’s why they were here getting the tree trunk, and how the investigation came here.
Tony Harris: 08:12 The tip from Robert Holmes effectively connected Washington state to the DC sniper attacks. So the sniper task force went to Tacoma. They took the tree stump that Muhammad and Malvo had supposedly used as target practice for evidence.
Reporter 3: 08:26 Following the bullet trail, FBI agents are now focused on this woodpile in Olympia. Pieces of potential evidence. The wood cut down months ago from the backyard of this Tacoma duplex. It’s where John Allen Muhammad once lived, and is said to have used the tree for target practice.
Reporter 3: 08:42 Authorities mapped a grid in the backyard, and carefully scanned for bullet fragments and shell casings, then removed the stump from that tree sent the woodpile. NBC News has learned evidence recovered here, including the tree stump, has been analyzed at the ATF lab in Maryland, and already the evidence has been described as having, quote, “potential value.”
David Reichenba…: 09:02 Again, all this is happening not in days. It’s happening in hours. Now we had a very, very clear suspect to pursue by name.
Tony Harris: 09:11 Police had quickly learned a lot about the pair, but they weren’t ready yet to name them the snipers. Still, it felt to investigators like they were finally zeroing in on their targets.
Tony Harris: 09:23 Meanwhile, Isa Nichols was getting some answers about the murder of her niece, Keenya Cook.
Isa Nichols: 09:31 Next thing I know, I get a knock at the door. It’s the FBI agent. Well, he confirms that Lee and John were in Tacoma during the time my niece was murdered, and that’s all I needed to hear. That said to me that they killed my niece. She took a bullet meant for me. Nobody knew she was living with me. She opens the door, and he lodges off his weapon.
Isa Nichols: 09:56 I didn’t realize how he became this diabolical, evil person.
Tony Harris: 10:06 But Muhammad and Malvo weren’t done yet. While the task force was making the connection to Washington state, Muhammad and Malvo were in Montgomery County, Maryland, and they were planning their next attack.
Tony Harris: 10:38 October 22nd, 2002. Aspen Hill, Maryland, in Montgomery County.
Tony Harris: 10:44 It’s early in the morning, so early that it’s still dark out. In a dense wooded area, someone is walking up a hill. They’re carrying a duffel bag with a sniper rifle inside. Once they reach the edge of the wooded area, they stop. At the opening, basically an empty playground with rusty slides, still swings, and old park benches. And on the other side of the playground sits in idle bus. Inside, the bus driver is waiting to start his morning route.
Tony Harris: 11:20 The person in the woods crouches. They pull a paper note out of the duffel bag, and attach it to a nearby tree branch. Then they go back to the duffel bag, and pull out the sniper rifle. They get low to the ground, and lay flat on their stomach. They set up the rifle on the cold, leafy floor, and set their aim towards the driver of the bus.
David Reichenba…: 11:50 So now we get to the morning of October 22nd, which is day number 21. 5:56 in the morning.
Tony Harris: 11:58 This is retired Maryland State Police Lieutenant David Reichenbaugh. He says that a Jamaican-American bus driver named Conrad Johnson was training a new female driver. Johnson was standing up just inside the entrance of the bus on the other side of the meter where riders pay. He was talking to the trainee, and getting ready to start his day.
David Reichenba…: 12:19 As he was prepping his bus, he was shot and killed. The shot came from a wooded area.
Tony Harris: 12:29 This bus stop shooting would be the 13th attack since October 2nd. I visited this spot and was joined by Nick DeCarlo, a retired Montgomery County detective sergeant who responded to the shooting that morning.
Nick DeCarlo: 12:43 I learned from officers on the scene what happened, who the victim is, and where he’s been transported, and that we have one witness. I have one of my investigators take a statement from that witness. That would have been the woman, the trainee, who was on the bus with Conrad Johnson.
Nick DeCarlo: 13:00 One of the keys at this point in time in the task force was, as you know, the involvement of federal agencies, one of those agencies being the ATF. Once we had ATF come on the scene, they used their laser technology to give us a trajectory, show us exactly where the shot came from. That led us to the edge of the woods here.
Nick DeCarlo: 13:24 I orchestrated and conducted a line search of probably about 20 to 30 officers, agents, along this wood line. And so we went I’m going to say 25, 30 yards into the woods, where we found a note stuck on a tree limb, and we also found a discarded duffel bag, which would have been useful in carrying a long gun.
Tony Harris: 13:51 DeCarlo remembers that this shooting felt like coming full circle. The bus stop was only a mile down the road from the very first shooting where James Martin was killed at the Shoppers Food Warehouse. DeCarlo had also been on that scene three weeks prior. He says police had learned a lot of lessons between then and now.
Nick DeCarlo: 14:12 A homicide involving a rifle in the outdoors, very unusual, but when you use a high powered weapon like that, your crime scene has to expand. If you know that’s what you’re dealing with, the scope of your crime scene grows immensely. Now that we knew what we were dealing with, fast forward to Mr. Johnson and this scene. We knew we are dealing with a large area that had to be closed off in a number of different directions, and a lot further than you typically would do at a homicide.
Tony Harris: 14:47 By the time they had finished searching the scene, they found a duffel bag, a single glove, and another note attached to a tree in the woods. Here’s David Reichenbaugh again.
David Reichenba…: 14:59 Again, a note is found. This time, it’s an angry note.
Speaker 15: 15:03 For you, Mr. Police. Call me God. Do not release to the press. You did not respond to the message. You departed from what we told you to say, and you departed from the time. Your incompetence has cost you another life. You have until 9:00 AM to deliver the money, and until 8:00 AM to deliver this response to let us know that you have our demands. Quote, “We have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose.”
David Reichenba…: 15:33 The same red sticky stars on top of the note, claiming that we screwed him over, and we weren’t talking to them, and the body counts from then on was on us, not on them.
Tony Harris: 15:47 The note set new deadlines for a phone call and for money, but by the time police had secured and read the note, they’d missed the deadline. The note also told police to send a false message to the public that police had caught the snipers “like a duck in a noose.”
David Reichenba…: 16:04 That’s where the media comes back in, because now we send Chief Moose back out, giving them some phrases that they put on the note so that they know we were serious. One of the phrases that the chief used, and I’m sure the media was maybe a little astonished by it, was …
Chief Moose: 16:22 You asked us to say, quote, “We have caught the sniper like a duck in a noose,” end quote. We understand that hearing us say this is important to you. However, we want you to know how difficult it has been to understand what you want because you have chosen to use only notes, indirect messages, and calls to other jurisdictions. The solution remains to call us and get a private, toll free number established just for you. If you are reluctant to contact us, be assured that we remain ready to talk directly with you. Our word is our bond. Let’s talk directly. We are waiting for you to contact us.
David Reichenba…: 17:06 Sort of giving them, okay, now, we give. We know you’re in charge. We’re going to do whatever it is you want us to do, but we need you to call us, so reach out to us. We’ll make it work. Basically, what the chief was trying to do was bide some more time for us to track these guys down, because the Chief knew, all the leadership knew that we were starting to focus. We now knew their names.
David Reichenba…: 17:35 So we were trying to communicate through the media, back to the snipers to have them reach out to us.
Tony Harris: 17:40 That was a role that the news media willingly but cautiously took on. Here’s Channel Nine Reporter Dave Statter.
Dave Statter: 17:49 A lot of information was being transmitted through the news media. We didn’t know if the snipers were paying attention to us in the news, but it was clear that we were getting information out there that could be going to the snipers specifically. We knew we had a responsibility to be as accurate as we can be, as we always are.
Tony Harris: 18:07 But Statter says local journalists don’t want to just regurgitate what police were telling them. He says sometimes police have an agenda, and they put out false information as a means to an end. And so the media has to be careful. If they were to broadcast false information, it would blow back on them and not law enforcement.
Dave Statter: 18:27 When you are the news media and you are a reporter, you don’t want to become the news, that’s for sure.
Tony Harris: 18:34 Still Channel Nine and other local stations aired nearly every press conference by Montgomery County police. In another press conference that day, on October 22nd, Chief Moose revealed the contents of the previous letter found at the Ponderosa Steakhouse shooting in Ashland, Virginia.
Chief Moose: 18:53 There continues to be a great deal of speculation as to a reference, a threat, in a message previously received. As stated earlier, everyone knows that all of our citizens are and have been at risk. We recognize the concerns of the community, and therefore are going to provide the exact language in the message that pertains to the threat.
Chief Moose: 19:19 “Your children are not safe anywhere at any time.”
Dave Statter: 19:24 My impression of why Charles Moose went out with that information was, one, he likely knew it was going to leak out to the press, and, in fact, it already had started leaking out to the press, including me. Also, they knew if there’s a specific threat to children, and they didn’t let the public know there’s a specific threat to children, that this could be a problem for them down the road.
Tony Harris: 19:44 Chief Moose also indirectly referenced the demand from the Ponderosa letter, that money be deposited into a credit card the snipers were supposedly carrying. The sniper’s request for $10 million had not been made public, but Statter says it had leaked to the media.
Dave Statter: 20:01 It seemed bizarre to us as reporters. Suddenly, there’s a request for a large amount of money, $10 million, and we can’t make sense of it. We know that to get that money, you’re going to have to somehow show yourself. Clearly, you don’t want to be caught from what you’re doing now. All of it’s not making a lot of sense to us. What’s the motive behind this? Was it really money? But police, we didn’t know at the time, were actually getting a little bit closer in what this was about.
Tony Harris: 20:34 The media didn’t know it yet, but police had made significant progress on tracking down the snipers, now believed to be John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo. Here’s former FBI agent Linda Hooper again.
Linda Hooper: 20:46 It certainly looked like they were two viable suspects in this case, but we had no information that they were in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington DC area at all. What they did is they were looking for that name, John Muhammad. Had that name ever been queried by any law enforcement in our area? And it’s called an offline search. And based on that offline search, they got information that in Silver Spring, Maryland, they had queried John Muhammad.
Tony Harris: 21:39 October 23rd, 2002. Early in the morning, US Marshal Billy [Sorukas 00:21:45] asked the FBI to find out if John Muhammad or Lee Boyd Malvo had any interactions with law enforcement in the DC area. So the FBI went to NCIC, the National Crime and Information Center. NCIC has one of the most extensive crime related databases in the country. Police use this database to get information on a driver when they run a tag.
Linda Hooper: 22:10 That information comes back who the owner of the car is, information on that person, criminal history, that sort of thing. We didn’t have any of that.
Tony Harris: 22:19 This is former FBI agent Linda Hooper. She says that because they didn’t have a tag number to run, they couldn’t access Muhammad’s vehicle history, but they could do an offline search, or reverse NCIC, to see if John Muhammad’s name had come up in any local police reports.
Linda Hooper: 22:42 And they’re able to get information that you couldn’t get through running it through your dispatcher.
Tony Harris: 22:45 As a result of the offline search, the FBI discovered that John Muhammad had been pulled over in Silver Spring, Maryland, as well as in multiple other nearby locations in the last month. Here’s retired Montgomery County Police Commander Drew Tracy.
Drew Tracy: 23:02 And one of the most important traffic stops was in Baltimore, Maryland, where John Muhammad was stopped by a patrol officer, and he ran him, and, if I remember correctly, John Muhammad was saying, oh, he’s out visiting relatives, and he was tired, and he was sleeping at the gas station. From that traffic stop, we got information.
Tony Harris: 23:22 Police learned that John Muhammad had been pulled over on October 8th in Baltimore, Maryland. Shortly after the officer stopped John Muhammad, he cued his dispatch microphone. Over the radio, he announced the make and model of the car as well as the license plate number, but the recording of that dispatch call was hidden in hours worth of tape.
Reporter 4: 23:47 Deputy marshals listened to more than five hours of police radio call tapes before they heard the transmission they were searching for, an officer reading off the license and description of the car.
Linda Hooper: 23:58 Well, the information that came back was that he was driving this blue Chevrolet Caprice with New Jersey tags, and they provided the tag number for it.
Tony Harris: 24:10 The snipers were driving a blue Chevrolet Caprice with New Jersey tags. Chevy Caprices are long, boxy cars with big trunks, and they were used by many law enforcement agencies in the 1990s as police cars. David Reichenbaugh says that even though the Caprice was stopped multiple times during the sniper investigation, police had no reason to suspect that it was involved in the shootings.
David Reichenba…: 24:37 There were no warrants, no reason to stop the vehicle. And, after all, we’re all looking for white vans and white trucks. We had stopped every white van in three states at least three times. They’re not in a white van. Police had spotted them either before or after the shootings, and just didn’t make the connection because we were so focused on the white vans and the white trucks.
Tony Harris: 25:01 But by October 23rd, law enforcement have the snipers’ names, their car, and their license plate number. And although they couldn’t directly connect Muhammad to the crimes, they were able to secure a warrant for his arrest.
David Reichenba…: 25:15 That day was really spent putting everything that we had together. By about 9:30, 10:00 at night, we had it. We knew who we were looking for. We knew what they were in. We just didn’t know where to find them.
Tony Harris: 25:30 So the next move was to inform everyone involved in the investigation. Here’s former FBI agent Linda Hooper again.
Linda Hooper: 25:38 They put a BOLO out, “be on the lookout,” to tell all law enforcement, and not just in Maryland and Virginia, but to tell all law enforcement if you see this blue Chevy Caprice with these New Jersey tags, you need to pull it over, and identify if there’s a John Muhammad driving it, and then there’s an arrest warrant for them. So it goes out, so everybody knows, and then like at every briefing at every police department, particularly in the area, “Okay, this is what we’re looking for tonight.”
David Reichenba…: 26:13 As I recall, we had over 23 police agencies involved, and that’s local, state, county, federal. We had, at the height, over a thousand police officers working this case. It was around the clock, because we knew these people were going to continue to kill people until they were stopped.
David Reichenba…: 26:37 The cooperation among the agencies were unprecedented. I had FBI officials working for me as a state trooper. I had county folks working for me. I had my troopers taking orders from FBI. It didn’t matter. It was a joint effort in every true sense of the word.
David Reichenba…: 26:59 Then the egos start to click in a little bit, and there became a bone of contention. When do we release the information about the Caprice to the media? There’s a lot of reasons pro and con. Pro: obviously, hey, we’ve got the eyes of the public out there helping us find this blue Caprice. That’s obvious. Public has a right to know. “Now, this is what we’re looking for. Help us find them.” The downside of it was, hey, the snipers don’t know that we’ve got them yet. They don’t know that we have them pinpointed, so if we keep it secret, we’ve got a chance to maybe gain that element of surprise.
David Reichenba…: 27:39 That was a tough decision to make.
Tony Harris: 27:41 Reichenbaugh says he wanted to release the information before anyone else got hurt. In his mind, the sooner the info went out, the sooner they would find and catch the killers. But not everyone agreed, including the federal authorities. At a task force meeting that night, Reichenbaugh says all the different agencies were arguing about what to do, so he stepped out of the meeting to call Dave Mitchell, superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
David Reichenba…: 28:08 Briefed him on what we had, and he very quickly made the decision for me. “We don’t care about anybody else. We’re releasing it. We’re releasing it to the media. We need to find these guys, and we need to do it now.” And I said, “Colonel, I’m going to be in trouble when I go in here and tell these guys that. They’re all feds.” He said, “Well, you tell them it’s from the order of the Governor. That trumps them. We’re doing it. Get some flyers, and,” in his words, “get the hell out of there.” I said, “Yes, sir.”
Tony Harris: 28:45 The license plate info went out to the media, and news outlets were getting ready to make it public. Here’s Channel Nine Reporter Dave Statter.
Dave Statter: 28:54 They’re making the connection, and one of our reporters, the same reporter who came up with the tarot card, [Stacy Cohan 00:00:29:01], is the first to find this information out for us at Channel Nine. She’s got sources telling her that they’re getting close, that they have names, and that they have a vehicle that they’re looking for. So we knew that they had very specific information that would soon come out, and it did come out that they were looking for two people and they were looking for a vehicle, this 1990 blue Chevrolet Caprice.
Dave Statter: 29:23 I was actually in a restaurant at that point, eating dinner, when this started to break. And I’m talking to Stacy on the phone, and seeing Fox News on the TV, Brian Wilson start to break the information. I called our assignment desk. I said, “You know, there’s a lot of specific information out here. I think this is going to break tonight. Just my gut. I’ll work overnight and see if it turns up anything in the Washington area.”
Tony Harris: 29:46 Meanwhile, Statter says they had other leads to follow up on.
Dave Statter: 29:50 One of the places we went to around midnight was Clinton, Maryland. We had learned that these shooters had a connection, or at least one shooter, John Muhammad, to his ex wife who lived in Clinton, Maryland. A woman, I believe her name was Mildred.
Linda Hooper: 30:05 Well, when we were investigating John Muhammad, we discovered that he was divorced, and his wife, Mildred Muhammad, was living in the area, and that she had a restraining order against him. They had three children.
Tony Harris: 30:20 Mildred’s restraining order against John meant that he couldn’t carry firearms. So once police received the tip from Robert Holmes that Muhammad was carrying a rifle, police could arrest him, and they could detain Malvo as a material witness.
Linda Hooper: 30:36 When I found out that she was living nearby where these shootings had taken place, I thought that we needed to go over and interview her, and offer to move her and her children out of their house.
Mildred Muhamma…: 30:53 October 23rd. FBI and ATF knock on my door, and they say, “Is Mildred Muhammad here?” I said, “Nah, she not here.” I was scared. I didn’t know what they wanted. I say, “Nah, she not here.” They said, “Well, we really need to talk to her because we need to ask her some questions.” I said, “Okay, that’s me.”
Mildred Muhamma…: 31:19 “So when was the last time you’ve seen John Allen Muhammad?” And my palms began sweating. I say, “Why are you asking me questions about John?” They say, “Well, we just want to know when was the last time you seen him.” I said, “September 2001 at an emergency custody hearing in Tacoma, Washington.” And he says, “We’re going to name your ex-husband as the sniper.” I said, “What? John?” My head hit the table. They say, “Yes, but do you think he would do something like this?” I raise my head and looked in the corner of the room. I said, “Well, yeah.”
Mildred Muhamma…: 32:05 They said, “Well, why would you think that?” I said, “Because we were watching a movie, and I don’t remember the name of it, but he said ‘I could take a small city, terrorize it. They would think it would be a group of people, and it would only be me.’ I asked him why would he do something like that, and he changed the subject.”
Mildred Muhamma…: 32:30 They say, “Well, Ms. Muhammad, would you like to go into protective custody?” I say, “You got to ask me that?” “Well, yes, ma’am, because some people don’t want to go.” I said, “Okay, have you caught him yet?” “No, ma’am.” “Do you know where he is?” “No, ma’am.” “And you still have to ask me?”
Linda Hooper: 32:47 She accepted our offer. We moved her and her children to a hotel.
Mildred Muhamma…: 32:53 We get out of the house, into the car, drive away, and the media, a convoy, is coming up. They’ve perched themselves around the house. My neighbor said that you would have thought it was daylight.
Mildred Muhamma…: 33:13 They took us to a hotel where I still don’t know where it is.
Linda Hooper: 33:17 We rented their hotel room in an undercover capacity, so her name wasn’t associated with it at all, and we just kept her there until this was over.
Mildred Muhamma…: 33:29 And I turned on a TV, and that was the first time they showed John’s picture on TV. And I went up to the TV, and put my hand on it, and say, “What happened to you?” My son crying on one bed, my daughter’s crying on the other. I pull them together. They cried themselves to sleep. I got a pillow, went in the bathroom, turned on a water in the bathtub, sat on the floor and screamed in the pillow. Because I didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know who to call.
Tony Harris: 34:08 Back at Mildred Muhammad’s house in Clinton, Maryland, Reporter Dave Statter was part of the media convoy that it showed up that night.
Dave Statter: 34:15 We pulled way back when we saw police were already in the area, and police were there to see if John Muhammad showed up.
Tony Harris: 34:23 Different news outlets broadcasted the blue Caprice info at various points throughout the night, and now that the license plate had gone public, police hoped that someone would spot the car and call in a tip.
Dave Statter: 34:36 While we were down there in the Clinton area, we got a call from a photographer who worked at a TV station in Baltimore, Maryland, who was heading home and said, “Police have I-70 shutdown in Frederick County, Maryland,” and he believes it’s connected to the sniper shootings.
Tony Harris: 34:55 Frederick County is just northwest of Montgomery County and Washington DC. It’s where Maryland State Police Lieutenant David Reichenbaugh lived, and he was heading home that night.
David Reichenba…: 35:06 I guess it was probably 11:30. I switched over to Frederick barrack channel, and I called the barrack as I’m required. And I said, “Car 662, Frederick. Be advised, I’m in the area.” The duty sergeant, Sergeant [Huntermark 00:35:21] , comes on and says, “Copy that, 662. Can you go to secure channel one?” And I knew something was up.
David Reichenba…: 35:28 I switched over to channel one, and I got on the radio, and Sarge says, “Be advised, we’ve got the broadcast out there. We just heard it on the local AM radio station five minutes ago, and I just got a phone call.”
Tipster: 35:42 The 1990 blue Caprice that y’all are looking for is sitting at the rest area, Route 70 westbound towards South Mountain.
David Reichenba…: 35:55 “They’re in Frederick. The snipers are in the rest area in Myersville.”
Tony Harris: 36:03 Next time on Monster: DC Sniper.
Speaker 24: 36:07 They had surprise for 21 days. Now we had surprise.
David Reichenba…: 36:14 I wasn’t anticipating this ending well. Once they realized they were cornered, I knew we were in for a shootout. I just knew it.
Nick DeCarlo: 36:23 I’m in the wood line, I’m listening. I’m praying that there’s no shots fired. My heart’s running a mile a minute, and I hear the breaking of windows.
Speaker 25: 36:32 I remember feeling this immense relief, and then just disbelief when the information came out that it was an older guy and a young guy. Like, a young guy? A young guy did this? Why?
David Reichenba…: 36:43 This kid just looked at me with that dead shark eye look, that “Pal, I’d kill you and everybody here if I had the chance.”
Tony Harris: 36:51 This is the blue Caprice.
Linda Hooper: 36:51 Not a white box truck.
Tony Harris: 36:51 Not a white box truck.
Paul: 36:56 When the snipers started randomly shooting people, nobody said, “Oh, you know, this could be related to what happened to Paul.” Nobody had reason to think that, until they found my computer.
Speaker 27: 37:13 Monster: DC Sniper is a 15 episode podcast hosted by Tony Harris and produced by iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV. Matt Frederick and Alex Williams are executive producers on behalf of iHeartRadio, alongside producers Trevor Young, Ben [Kebrick 00:37:29] and Josh Thane. Payne Lindsey and Donald Albright are executive producers on behalf of Tenderfoot TV, alongside producers Meredith [Stedman 00:37:37] and Christina Dana. Original music is by Makeup and Vanity Set.
Speaker 27: 37:43 If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the first two seasons, Atlanta Monster, and Monster: the Zodiac Killer. If you have questions or comments, email us Monster@iHeartMedia.com, or you can call us at 1-833-285-6667. Thanks for listening.