DC Sniper Sentenced: It Started with Domestic Violence


DC Sniper John Allen Muhammad was sentenced to die on November 10 by Prince County, VA Judge Mary Grace O’Brien today for murdering Dean Meyers.

Muhammad was dubbed the DC Sniper during a killing spree in 2002 that reached from coast-to-coast.  By the time it was over, he was linked to 27 shootings and 17 deaths.  It all started with domestic violence in Tacoma, WA where Police Chief David Brame was abusing his own wife Crystal Judson Brame.  Muhammad’s ex-wife Mildred is believed to be his intended target, but the evidence wasn’t presented at trial.  When he was arrested, he told the officers:

It’s Mildred’s fault.


After 12 years of marriage, the couple separated in 2000.  Muhammad had come home from the Gulf War bitter and likely suffering from PTSD, but no one took Mildred’s concerns about his bizarre behavior seriously.  In her restraining order applications, she stated:

I am afraid of John.  He was a demolition expert in the military.  He is behaving very, very irrational.  Whenever he does talk with me he always says that he’s going to destroy my life.

John came over to inform me that he will not let me raise our children.  His demeanor is such that it’s a threat to me.

Muhammed emptied the couple’s bank accounts and kidnapped the couple’s three children, changed their identities, and lived on the run for 18 months.  While in Antigua, he met John Lee Malvo, a ruderless teenager who had been abandoned by his parents and who would become his accomplice.

Gung-ho Soldier to Sniper

Muhammad’s first brush with the law was for threatening an officer in the military.  He came home from the Gulf War a soldier still on a mission.  In Mildred’s biography on her After the Trauma web site it says:

Muhammad did not make idle threats. . .he had the means, skill, determination, will, and weapons to carry through on his words. . .Muhammad never did anything without a plan. . .former soldier on a mission. . .formulating a plan to murder her without getting caught.

John Muhammad. . .was ultimately planning to murder Mildred.  When he did so, he wanted it to look like random violence.  This was his plan!  With Mildred out of the way, he thought he would be able to get custody of their children.

Mildred ultimately got her children back and was awarded full custody.  Like many domestic violence survivors, she looked everywhere for help and came up empty.  She had no job or money.  She was on her own.  She fled to Maryland with her children and went underground.

But, despite her best efforts, Muhammad found her.  During the three-week shooting spree in the DC area, his blue Caprice was parked in front of her house.

Muhammad was caught after his best friend Robert Holmes recognized him from his domestic violence mug shot.  Because Mildred had a permanent order of protection against her ex-husband, it was against federal law for him to purchase, own, or transport a gun.  He bought the guns used in his killing spree in a Tacoma, WA gun shop linked to many such rampages.

ScaredSilentFrtScared Silent:  The Mildred Muhammad Story

On October 13, Mildred’s story Scared Silent will be released.  My sense is that she will be exposing the myriad of ways women who are attempting to escape domestic violence are betrayed by the system.

Mildred Muhammad, however, is not a victim.  She established After the Trauma, Inc. and wrote A Survivor’s Journal about healing from the trauma of domestic violence.  She’s won numerous awards for her commitment to the cause, and her story has been the subject of three documentaries.

Bravo, Mildred. D. Muhammad!  Bravo!

Note:  After this was posted, Black Men in America posted an exclusive six-part YouTube interview with Mildred Muhammad.  I recommend it highly.

2 responses to “DC Sniper Sentenced: It Started with Domestic Violence

  1. Gary,

    Thank you. I can’t wait to watch the remainder of Mildred’s interview. She and I have connected. She’s coming out here in 2010, and I’ve set up an interview with Deborah Horne at KIRO7.

    I need to send Deborah a link to your post.

    If you haven’t checked out Vernetta Cockerham in NC, I hope that you will. She has a powerful voice like Mildred’s. She hasn’t written a book, but there was an investigative journalism piece about her story in the Oprah magazine August issue.

    Thank you for visiting my humble little site and leaving a comment. I’m going to add you to my blogroll and look forward to what y’all are doing.


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