7 • JOHN ALLEN MUHAMMAD

Police finally have names in the D.C. Sniper case. So who is John Allen Muhammad?

[This episode contains stories of domestic abuse. If you or someone you know may be experiencing domestic abuse, you can call the domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit the website thehotline.org.]

Transcript

Speaker 1:

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. This episode contains stories of domestic abuse. If you or someone you know may be experiencing domestic abuse, you can call the domestic violence hotline at +1 800-799-7233, or visit the website, thehotline.org. Listener discretion is advised.

Mildred Muhammad:

When you meet someone for the first time, you always put your best foot forward. You don’t want that person to know all of your flaws and you don’t want them to think badly about you because you’re really interested in that person and you hide it as long as you can. I am Mildred Muhammad. I’m an award winning global keynote speaker, and my former husband was John Allen Muhammad, whom you all know to be the D.C. Sniper. Everybody loved John, because he was jovial, he was that guy, that guy of, if you need something, go to John. But he was not one to show his emotions, so in not showing his emotions, it was difficult for people to read him, to understand exactly what was going on with him. I believe he was always that type of person that blew up. He was just very good at concealing it. I believe going to Saudi only intensified that to a whole different level. He received orders to go to Desert Storm for the war, but he comes back three months later because he received an injury, but then other stories began to come forward. He was accused of trying to kill other soldiers.

 

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Mildred Muhammad:

John was a Sergeant over a unit. A soldier challenged him in front of others and he felt humiliated. That soldier that night was in charge of the explosives. John went, snuck into that area and stole a grenade. He threw the grenade in the tent and jumped in to his sleeping bag. The grenade went off. He was accused of trying to get back at that soldier that challenged him in front of the other soldiers. They put him in a dungeon. They hogtied him and left him there and when he comes back, he’s not the same person.

Speaker 3:

There’s a ruthless person on the loose.

Speaker 4:

What unnerves this community the most is the randomness of the murders. Ordinary people doing ordinary things.

Speaker 5:

They killed the five people in one day and then went on the rampage for the next month.

Speaker 6:

It is quite a mystery. The police say they have never had a crime quite like this. Be careful. These guys are using weapons that are going to go right straight through our Bulletproof vests.

Speaker 7:

There’s a white van just went by with two guys in it.

Speaker 1:

From iHeartRadio and Tenderfoot TV, this is Monster: DC Sniper.

Speaker 8:

On the morning of October 22nd, 2002 police found the names of their first real suspects in the DC Sniper case. Authorities connected the snipers to a Montgomery, Alabama liquor store shooting. At that crime scene, police found a fingerprint. The FBI then matched the fingerprint to a 17 year old Jamaican boy named Lee Boyd Malvo. He’d been arrested in Washington State in 2001 on suspicions of illegal immigration. The arrest report also listed another name, John Allen Muhammad. That name set off alarm bells for police. Someone in Washington State had called in a tip about a John Muhammad saying he might be involved in the DC Sniper attacks. So now, Lee Boyd Malvo and John Muhammad were prime suspects. Police quickly learned all they could about them pair and here’s what they discovered. John Muhammad was born John Williams on New Year’s Eve 1960 and grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In the fall of 1983, when Williams was 22, he met a young woman named Mildred Greene. Mildred was 23, an ex-cheerleader and devout Baptist who lived with her mom.

Mildred Muhammad:

I was walking to the store and my friend Valena picked me up and she said, “Where are you going?” I said, “I’m going to the store for my mom”, and so we pulled up at the corner store, she went in and she came out with these two guys. One of them was John. And he put his head through the driver side window and said, “What is your name?” I said, “Mildred.” He said, “I’m John. Would you like to go out tonight?” I said, “I need to check my schedule.” I didn’t have a schedule. “I’m available at about seven.” He said, “Okay, I’ll be by to pick you up.” We went over to Southern University, there’s a couples area over by the river, Mississippi River, and we were just talking and he said, “So are you seeing anybody?” I said, “No.” He said, “Why not?” I said, “I’m waiting for the right man to show up.” He said, “Well, he just did.” I said, “Okay.” So he dropped me off at home and then the next day he called and so we just started talking and hanging out. He was a welder, an excellent welder.

Speaker 8:

What were the qualities of the man that you found attractive?

Mildred Muhammad:

Well, he had a beautiful smile. He was jovial, funny. He said what he meant and he meant what he said, and that’s something that most men don’t do.

Speaker 8:

Mildred had grown up without a father and had never had a serious boyfriend. Most of her ideas about relationships came from TV and movies. John was romantic and said all the right things.

Mildred Muhammad:

About six months in, my friend Valena came over and she said, “So how are you and John?” I said, “Oh, we good.” She said, “So you know he married, right?” What?

Speaker 8:

It turns out that John was already married to a woman named Carol and they had a son named Lindbergh.

Mildred Muhammad:

It was devastating for me to find out that he was married, but I knew I had to stay away from him. I said, “Okay, I got to break that off.” Finally I did, but then he came back and said, “I have some terrible news to tell you.” I said, “What’s that?” He said, “I can’t read”, and he couldn’t. All he could do was write his name. He had adapted as an adult to not being able to read. His whole family didn’t know he couldn’t read. Nobody knew he couldn’t read.

Speaker 8:

Mildred felt that John, who in many ways was closed off, was finally opening up to her. She cared deeply about John and wanted to help him.

Mildred Muhammad:

He said, “Well, I want to go back in the military.” I taught him how to read enough to pass the test to be reinstated in active duty, “And after you pass the test”, I said, “We’re done.”

Speaker 8:

John enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Fort Lewis, Washington. There, John qualified as an expert with an M16, the Army standard infantry rifle. That rating is the Army’s highest of three levels of marksmanship for a typical soldier.

Mildred Muhammad:

He left, went to Fort Lewis and he wrote me a letter and said, “Hey, I can’t do this without you. I’ll do whatever it takes for you to be with me. Just come.” And he sent the airline ticket and I left.

Speaker 8:

You love this man?

Mildred Muhammad:

I did. Absolutely. With all of my heart, I did, and I wanted to build a life with him. And about three months later he got a divorce and then we got married. It was a sunny day. We was in Grace Chapel. I had on a white dress. He was in dress blues, a ceremonial uniform for military.

Speaker 8:

Two years later, in January 1990, John and Mildred had their first child, John Jr. A little less than a year after that, John was deployed to Saudi Arabia for operation Desert Storm. He worked as a combat engineer and metalworker and it was here that Williams was said to have thrown a grenade into the tent of a fellow soldier.

Mildred Muhammad:

They came and brought in investigators. The commander had us to come to his office.

Speaker 8:

John had his own side of the story. According to that account, John had previously approached an officer with complaints of racism from white soldiers. John says those soldiers felt the need to retaliate, so they created a phony grenade story to blame on him. And then as punishment, he was hogtied and humiliated.

Mildred Muhammad:

And the commander said to John, “We investigated your allegations. However, when the investigators came to ask you questions, you didn’t answer them.” I didn’t know that. He said, “Sergeant Williams, why didn’t you answer those questions?” And John looked at him and said, “Permission to be released.” Commander said, “Permission granted.” And we got up and we left.

Speaker 8:

After the commander released him from the meeting, John stopped talking about the incident. The military didn’t keep any records of the event, so all they had to go on were conflicting stories. No official charges were ever made in the case. At first, Mildred believed John’s side of the story. She trusted her husband, but years later, after she saw what John was capable of, she came to believe that the other story was true, that John had in fact tried to get back at a fellow soldier using a thermite grenade. The issue fizzled out and John continued to serve in the military, but he was growing disillusioned with it. After Desert Storm, Mildred says John was a changed man.

Mildred Muhammad:

He was no longer jovial. He didn’t want to have those long conversations anymore. He was just cut and dry. “How are you doing?” “Fine.” “What you up to?” “Nothing.” All soldiers that come back from a war zone, they always go to a hospital first to just do a whole physical just before they release them back to their base. All I learned was that he was diagnosed with PTSD.

Speaker 8:

At that point in time, post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD was not a commonly understood condition. PTSD can occur after a traumatic experience. It can cause flashbacks of the trauma and create a heightened sense of fear, and it can make people feel depressed or detached. Many who experience PTSD also become irritable, aggressive, or distrustful of others, which can lead to social isolation.

Mildred Muhammad:

The only person he opened up to was our son. When he came home, he just went immediately to play with him. Most of his interactions was with our son, but then his behavior became to be obsessive. I would buy dishes, silverware, he’d break all the dishes except for three. Three plates, three saucers, three bowls. I finally asked him, “So why do you keep breaking all this stuff, because this is not making sense?” He said, “We don’t need anybody else over here. It’s just the three of us.” I said, “But what if we have a party or company?” “We’re not having a party and we’re not having company.”

Speaker 8:

Mildred says that John’s erratic moods took a huge mental toll on her. She was already raising a child and working full time and she was trying to cope with John’s strange behavior, but it was becoming harder and harder. Still, he had never turned his anger towards her directly until one afternoon, when they went to a nearby park.

Mildred Muhammad:

In this park, you could rent a boat. I said, “I want to get a boat so little John can ride in a boat and see what that’s like.” He turned to me with the coldest look in his eyes, just empty, and he said, “We’re not going to do that.” Scared me and I just shut down. It was painful. The way he looked at me and talked to me, he never done that before, ever. We went home and I went straight to the bathroom and locked the door and I stayed in there all day. I didn’t get anything to eat. I didn’t get anything to drink. I was so hurt. I was just devastated. I was hurting. I could hear little John at the door crying, “Mommy, please come out. Mommy, please come out.” I drew a bath, I sat in the tub. And so when I finally did come out, he was sleeping on the floor right by the door and he woke up and looked at me. He said, “Mommy, you’re okay.” I said, “Mommy’s fine now.” He said, “Mommy, you scared me.” I said, “Don’t ever be scared of me. I just needed some time to myself.”

Speaker 8:

How did John respond? How did you respond to [inaudible 00:14:42]?

Mildred Muhammad:

He waited until that morning and came in, apologized to me, said he didn’t know what came over him and he was really sorry. I said, “Don’t you ever, ever talk to me like that again.”

Speaker 8:

The relationship normalized for a while. It was now early in 1993 and the family was back in Tacoma, Washington. They’d had a daughter, Selena, and Mildred was pregnant with their second daughter, Taalibah. On the surface, things look calm, but John was growing more disillusioned with the military and he’d gotten into trouble again.

Mildred Muhammad:

John was brought up on charges for threatening to kill his first Sergeant. He told the first Sergeant, “I’ll kill you, your wife, and everybody in their line.” He had an attorney, military attorney. We went in to talk to her about the case and as they’re talking, she looks at me and she said, “You don’t know anything that’s going on, do you?” I said, “No ma’am, I don’t.” And so she asked him, “Why haven’t you told your wife what’s going on with this case?” He said, “Because she’s a part of the establishment and she doesn’t have my back.” “What has she done to make you feel that way?” And he said, “Nothing. I just don’t want her to know.”

Speaker 8:

According to Mildred …

Mildred Muhammad:

What turned the case was the defense attorney was asking the first Sergeant what happened and he couldn’t recall. And so the verdict came back not guilty. John was happy. He said he knew that he was not going to be found guilty and he apologized for not telling me about the whole case, but he said because you were pregnant with Taalibah and I didn’t want those emotions to affect our child.

Speaker 8:

Eventually, in 1994, John was honorably discharged from the military. During this period, John and Mildred had also been introduced to the Nation of Islam. The Nation is an African American religious and political group based on the Muslim faith. It was started in the 1930s and then was popularized by Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. Mildred converted first in 1996 and John followed in 1997. The Nation of Islam has been heavily criticized for promoting anti-white and antisemitic ideology, but Mildred says the Nation does not teach people to hate those of other races or beliefs. Rather, it helped her understand her role as a black woman in society and it gave her greater insight into the Bible and the Quran.

Mildred Muhammad:

Everyone has their own spiritual path and that was the one that I chose because I needed clarity on who God is, where is my position, who I am, and where I needed to be, and the type of mother that I wanted to be to my children. With him joining a year later, then that was just what he decided to do. And then he would go to the Brothers meetings and do what they do.

Speaker 8:

After John left the military, he needed work. They decided to use John’s background fixing vehicles in the military to start a unique auto mechanic business. Instead of operating from a shop, John would go directly to the customer’s car. He would either work on it there or take it back to his home garage. The business started off well, but John and Mildred needed help with the bookkeeping.

Isa Nichols:

I was working one day and a woman walks through my door. Her name was Mildred Muhammad. She was the spouse of John Muhammad. They just converted from Williams to Muhammad.

Speaker 8:

Isa Nichols ran a business development and accounting company. Mildred saw an ad for it and sought her out specifically.

Isa Nichols:

I would say probably an hour and a half into our meeting, for the first time, she wanted to do business with me. They had started a business of repairing cars. The second meeting was to do more of an intake with them and so her husband was present at our second meeting.

Speaker 8:

This is when Isa met John for the first time.

Isa Nichols:

And he walked in the door, he was very tall, quite handsome, and had a very hard handshake. Very direct, look you straight in the eye, short haircut. You could tell he had been in the military. Very polite, called me sister, which is a term of endearment in the black community. He was very glad to meet me. He was very glad to be doing business with another sister. Mildred Muhammad was the administrator. She was the one who would be dispatching and taking the calls for services and John would go out and do the work. Mildred and I usually were the ones talking. We became friends more so than John and I. We had some commonalities. Her husband was stationed at Fort Lewis. My husband was stationed at Fort Lewis. She related to her husband. She was very respectful. She was very humble with him. He referred to her as his wife, his loving wife, very promising, in the beginning.

Speaker 8:

But soon, Isa began to notice things about John and Mildred’s relationship. Strange things. In the summer of 1997, John’s son from his previous marriage, Lindbergh, came to visit Tacoma from Louisiana.

Isa Nichols:

He didn’t want to return home. He said there was abuse and different things and he was afraid to go back home. Mildred talked to me about it in terms of what should she do. And I said, “You’re going to have to send him back to his mother.”

Speaker 8:

Mildred says John was adamant that they keep Lindbergh. John was worried that Lindbergh really was being abused in Louisiana, so he got a lawyer and went to court hoping to gain custody of Lindbergh.

Mildred Muhammad:

And I said to him, “What you’re doing is wrong.” [inaudible 00:21:10] was calling and he wouldn’t talk to her. I say, “You need to talk to her. This is not your decision to make on your own and you need to get some background as to what is really happening with Lindbergh.”

Speaker 8:

But when John went to court, the judge in Washington said that he didn’t have jurisdiction, and so John had to send Lindbergh back home.

Mildred Muhammad:

That night, I came back from a mosque meeting and John had this huge duffel bag, as long as a twin bed, packing. John, Selena, and Taalibah were just sitting on a bed and Lindbergh too. And I said, “So what’s going on here?” He said, “Well, I’m running with Lind.” “No, you’re not. Why would you need to run with Lind?” “Because he’s being abused and I need to protect him.” I say, “But the judge said he needs to go home tomorrow and you’re going to run with him and leave me and the children destitute? Is that what you’re telling me?” “Well, I just need to protect my son.” I say, “No, you need to take Lind back, and he’s leaving tomorrow.” I took Lind and the children, we went in the second bedroom and I locked the door and I packed Lind’s bag and I sat on the floor with my back to the door so that he could not get in.

Mildred Muhammad:

And when daylight came, we all got dressed and we got in a car and John was sitting on the sofa and when we passed by, I said, “Are you coming to the airport to see your son off?” And he said, “Yeah.” So I drove. The children were in the back laughing and talking with Lind and the whole time he’s just looking straight ahead. We checked him in and we walked him to the gate and we watched the plane take off, and John did a right face, just like he was in the military, just a right face and walked off. And when we got back in a car and he said, “You didn’t have my back.” I said, “I was not about to watch you take Lindbergh away from her for no reason.” And that is when the relationship changed.

Speaker 8:

The incident with Lindbergh was just the beginning. Soon, other people began to notice odd things about John and Mildred’s relationship.

Felix Strozier:

They didn’t fight a lot, but they did fight. Sure, there was a couple of times that it would be right there and you would just kind of hear the attitude in the voices.

Speaker 8:

This is Felix Strozier. In Tacoma, he and John had opened a martial arts business together. Felix was the martial artist and John was the businessman. Mildred helped out with the bookkeeping, so Felix regularly saw the couple interact.

Felix Strozier:

Yeah, no, I think that they kept a lot of this stuff hidden. I knew that they had problems, but not to the extent that it went. It went too far.

Speaker 8:

Despite the tension with Mildred, Felix says that John loved his kids more than anything.

Felix Strozier:

I remember one of them, he would always have in his arms. Any little kid, sometime will start to play in class or something, but the thing is, all John would have to do is just look. Their eyes just had to meet and little John knew to just get it together. I never seen him spank them or anything, but when I did see the eye contact, I knew that it had been some work to make that happen. Little kids, they have to learn to look for that look, but I think he had a good relationship with him. He loved them.

Speaker 8:

But Felix says that John also had a darker side. On one occasion, Felix noticed that John had taken a liking to a young female student and then, she stopped coming to class, presumably to avoid John. Even still, Felix says that John would go over to her house.

Felix Strozier:

This might’ve been something that I should’ve paid attention to, because if I remember right, it was almost like in a stalking way. I believe that she said that he would show up when he wanted to. That was a problem. I misread his character. He had some issues.

Speaker 8:

Those issues would become consistent and soon escalate even further. Here’s Isa Nichols again.

Isa Nichols:

After the third year of being their client, it became apparent to me that there were some tensions going on with John and Mildred through the business. There were calls from clients that John was missing appointments, Mildred didn’t know his whereabouts, why he was missing appointments. He would be gone. She had a list of where he was supposed to go for the day and then she started getting phone calls of him not being there. Them waiting for him to arrive. All of this information I got from Mildred telling me about calls she received. One of those calls was from a woman who wanted to speak to the owner. The woman told Mildred that she wanted to report inappropriate sexual advances made to her from John for repair of the car. So there, there’s an indication that there’s infidelity. This woman is calling saying that John is making sexual advances toward her in lieu of payment. She reaches out to me because she trusts me. I’m her business consultant. This is a business issue. And she was like, “Well, what do I do? This is serious.” And I said, “Well, you have to talk to your husband. You have to make him aware of this client calling with this information.”

Isa Nichols:

For Mildred, this is her husband, father of her children. She’s devastated. She didn’t know how to handle it. She emotionally reached out to me because she was hurt and because she also, as a business woman, had to respond to this woman.

Speaker 8:

Mildred wasn’t comfortable talking to the young woman who made these claims. So Mildred asked her friend, Stanley, to go investigate for her.

Mildred Muhammad:

So he went and talked to the young lady and she said that John had been over there all the time, spent Christmas and Thanksgiving, and even the little boy who was, I think three or four, knew him. He came back to me, he said, “So Mildred, this is what I found out, so what are we going to do?” I said, “Well, what we’re going to do is we’re going to confront John, because I still got to run this business.”

Speaker 8:

Mildred finally approached John, and he said …

Mildred Muhammad:

“Oh, she’s lying. She’s this, she’s that.” But I didn’t believe him. I asked him for divorce. I said, “You acting free. You may as well be free.”

Speaker 8:

They agreed to separate, but John didn’t want a divorce, and although they hadn’t settled on rules for seeing the kids, John moved out of the house.

Mildred Muhammad:

But he still had a key to the house, so he would come in in the middle of the night. I could hear the key going in the door. He would walk back to the bedroom side, open my eye into a slither, watch him walk into the room, from one side of the bed to the other, lean over to listen to me breathe, stand up, and leave out of the room. He did that three times. The third time, Taalibah woke up and said, “Daddy.” And he picks her up and says, “Here’s Taalibah.” And then he leaves. That’s when I decided to get the locks changed.

Speaker 8:

Even though they were separated, Mildred and John tried to make the mechanic business work. But soon, it began to fall apart. Here’s Isa Nichols again.

Isa Nichols:

I got a call from Mildred. She wanted to inform me that they would no longer be able to afford to utilize my services anymore. I felt really sad. She said, “We’re not making the money.” She said, “I don’t know where John is half the time.” She’s told me that he sometimes will leave for two, three days. “I don’t have any more control”, and so she didn’t know how the business would survive without John.

Speaker 8:

Mildred says the mechanic business was no longer important to John. All he cared about was getting back into the house and back into the family and he was determined. On one fateful night, Mildred learned how dangerous her husband truly was.

Mildred Muhammad:

He came over and said, “We need to talk.” My brother was there, so I felt I was safe. We go in the garage. He says, “You are not going to raise my children by yourself.” John said, “You have become my animal and as my enemy, I will kill you.” I said, “Well, I’ve been sleeping with the enemy all this time. What else you going to do?” He charges at me, I ran around him into the house where my brother was and he leaves and I tell my brother, I said, “John’s going to kill me. He’s going to kill me.” He said, “Girl, John not going to kill you.” I never went to my brother again for help, because he didn’t believe me. John’s motto was, “One shot, one kill to the head, never leave an enemy behind.” He was a man of his word. He was going to kill me and it was going to be a head shot and he was going to bury me where no one will be able to find me and I could not get anybody to believe me. Nobody.

Speaker 8:

Mildred was thoroughly terrified of John. She went to the courthouse the next morning to get a restraining order against him.

Mildred Muhammad:

Judge said, “You really need to get away from this guy.” I said, “Your honor, I am really trying to do that.” He saw the escalation and how dangerous John was for me and he gave me a lifetime restraining order, but still had to have visitation with the children. We had to set up for someone to pick up the children, take them to John and bring them back. And so we found somebody to do that. The first weekend went fine. Second weekend was my mom’s birthday, March the 27th.

Speaker 8:

Isa Nichols dropped in that evening to see Mildred and to tell her mother happy birthday.

Isa Nichols:

I expected to see the children. I expect to see mom. I expected to see John. When I got there, the children weren’t there, John wasn’t there, Mildred’s mother was in the back room and her brother was there, who was a truck driver and he was in town. I got in and I took my shoes off and I said, “Hey, how’s it going?” She’s like, “Well, it’s my mom’s birthday and we’re waiting on John to bring the children back. They should have been back by now.” And I said, “Okay.” I kick off my shoes and I sit on the couch and I wait with her. When her brother left, she sits down and she tells me at that time that they were separated. She told me that John would come and get the children on the weekend, and she told me that she was filing for a divorce. She told me she had problems because John was trying to get back with her, meaning to stop her filing of the divorce. She shared with me times that he was angry and forced his way into the house. Time had went by. It’s six o’clock. I’d been there a couple of hours and it is at that point, I feel the tension.

Speaker 8:

Mildred was getting worried. The children were supposed to be home hours ago and she hadn’t heard from John.

Mildred Muhammad:

We didn’t have cell phones back then like we do now. We had pagers. I’m blowing up his pager. 7:30 he calls, my son is on the line. I said, “Ask your dad what time are you coming home?” He said, “Mom, dad says we’ll be there in an hour.” I said, “Where are you anyway?” He said, “Well, we’re at Kmart,” which was literally 15 minutes away. When 8:30 comes, no children. Blowing up his pager again. At 11:35 PM, he calls and he says, “We’re in route from Seattle. We’ll be there shortly.”

Isa Nichols:

She hung up that phone and she looked at me and she said, “Something is wrong. Something is wrong.” As she began to pace back and forth, I know now that something really is wrong because of what she just shared with me. I stayed at their house till 10 o’clock, almost 11 o’clock, Mil just making phone calls, asking people, have they seen John and the children? I go home, I call her one more time before I got ready to go to bed. “Are they there?” She says, “No.” She says, “My children are gone.” I said, “What do you mean?” She said, “My children are gone. He took them.”

Speaker 8:

The children never came home that night. The next morning, Mildred started calling around looking for them.

Mildred Muhammad:

I’m thinking maybe he took the children to school, because it’s a Monday. Went to the school, talked to secretary, she said, “No ma’am, your children have not checked in.” She looked at me because every time they saw me I was smiling. I wasn’t smiling. And said, “Mrs. Muhammad, what’s the matter?” And it was the first time I cried. I said, “John took the children,” and she said, “Let’s go in a bathroom, wash your face, go home, call the police.”

Speaker 8:

Mildred did go home and her mom was waiting for her, hoping for some good news.

Mildred Muhammad:

And when she saw me come around the corner without my children, she let out a scream I had never heard my mother screen before. And I ran to her before she hit the ground, because she was going there and she said, “He took our babies. He took our babies.” I said, “I know mom.” “What are we going to do?” I said, “I don’t know, but I’m going to do something.” I called the police.

Isa Nichols:

They took a report, she gave them pictures of her children. John had taken the children and vanished.

Speaker 8:

The police told Mildred that since John had shared custody of the children, the incident couldn’t be filed as a kidnapping. John had just as much right to the kids as she did, and that meant there would be no criminal investigation.

Isa Nichols:

She’s learning all of this and she is spiraling emotionally, every day that she doesn’t know where her babies are. Then John began to call her and he began in this crazy diabolical, “Take me back or you will never see the children.” That’s when it began. She would plead, “John, please. Just bring the children back.” And he would constantly hold those children and threatened that she would never see the children again if she didn’t take him back. Over time, we find out that this was strategic. John had taken money out of the accounts, emptied them out, emptied the children’s savings accounts out, that he had actually planned this. And here he has the money, he has the children and she has nothing.

Speaker 8:

Mildred says she got so depressed that she lost all desire to eat.

Mildred Muhammad:

I was eating a half a slice of bread and crushed ice. That was it. Just enough to sustain me. I was signing for a package from my mom on mother’s day and I passed out.

Speaker 8:

Shortly thereafter, Isa got a phone call …

Isa Nichols:

And it’s from Mildred’s mother and Mildred’s mom says that Mildred’s in the hospital and if I could go and check on Mildred for her. I go and Mildred’s in the emergency room. I walk into the room and I see Mildred and I grab her hand and she opens her eyes. She looks at me and she starts apologizing to me. She starts crying, saying she’s sorry. I tried to take care of myself. I tried, because those are the things that I would talk to her about. It’s like, “Where are you going to be when the children are found? Are you going to be in the psych ward?” She just was surviving. The phone rings. Mildred answers the phone and it’s John. Mildred is hooked up to IVs and monitors and it’s John on the phone. She’s screaming, “Let me see the children. John, please don’t take the children.” He’s saying, “Take me back. If I don’t get to come back home, you don’t get to see the children.” And she’s screaming and she’s begging and all of a sudden she flips out. The IVs are coming out of her arms. The monitors are going crazy, beeping and stuff.

Isa Nichols:

The staff comes into the room. I’m backed up against the corner while they work on her and calm her down. They ended up giving her a sedative and she finally is sedated enough where she’s not kicking and screaming and they have to put those things back in her arm, because she had pulled them out. She was so scared.

Speaker 8:

Mildred was in her lowest place. She hadn’t seen or heard from her children in nearly two months and she was about to learn that her life was in serious danger.

Mildred Muhammad:

My mother called the hospital shortly thereafter and told them that John just called her and said he was on his way to the hospital to kill me. A social worker came and said, “You can’t go back home because we have to put you in hiding so that John will not find and kill you.” They waited until it got dark, brought me the clothes, took me out of the back door of the hospital. They told me I needed to slouch down in the car so no one could see that I was in the car, but I watched the roof [inaudible 00:42:41] and I was watching the opened windows, because I knew it was going to be a headshot. Just as sure as I’m sitting here talking to you, I knew it was going to be a headshot.

Speaker 8:

Mildred made it safely to a shelter. She stayed there for a few months before relocating to Maryland to stay with some family. It appeared as though John was nowhere to be found, so where was he and where were the children? It seemed like nobody knew, but thousands of miles away, someone did know. The Jamaican boy whose fingerprints had been found during the sniper investigation, Lee Boyd Malvo.

Lee Boyd Malvo:

He gave me his time. He was consistent, even though the consistency was madness. He was consistent.

Speaker 1:

Next time on Monster: DC Sniper.

Speaker 12:

This is a very rare time where you’re able to understand how an individual develops from the day he was born to the day he was arrested for one of the most sensational crimes of modern time.

Speaker 13:

Youths all over the world who are fatherless, who are not in school, who have no role model, who feel like they have no purpose, it’s so easy for a gang leader or even an organization like ISIS to recruit and to give them a sense of purpose.

Speaker 14:

He didn’t have his parents, he didn’t have any structure and all he had was instability.

Lee Boyd Malvo:

I mean, I had no one. [inaudible 00:44:25]

Speaker 14:

It probably had a traumatic impact on him knowing that this was going to be how my life is.

Lee Boyd Malvo:

I’m going to find a way, because if I don’t find a way, [inaudible 00:44:41].

Speaker 1:

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 [inaudible 00:45:03] and Josh Thane. Payne Lindsey and Donald Albright are executive producers on behalf of Tenderfoot TV, alongside producers, Meredith Stedman and Christina Dana. Original music is by Makeup and Vanity Set. The audio you heard of Lee Boyd Malvo in this episode comes from a 2012 interview by journalist Josh White. That audio was provided courtesy of the Washington Post. 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 at monster@iheartmedia.com, or you can call us at +1 833-285-6667. Thanks for listening.