Today in history, October 24, 2002… in Maryland, authorities arrest 2 people in connection to weeks of deadly sniper attacks in the DC area – John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo – after the series of shootings kills 10 people and wounds 3. Muhammad is sentenced to death in Virginia and life in Maryland. Malvo gets a life sentence in both states.
The so-called Beltwaysniper attacks begun on October 2, 2002, lasting over a 3 week period, in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.
It was later learned that the rampage was perpetrated by Muhammad and Malvo, driving a blue 1990 Chevrolet Caprice sedan, who had apparently begun their killing spree a month prior, with murders and robberies in Louisiana and Alabama.
Malvo, now 27, is currently serving 6 consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole. John Allen Muhammad was executed by lethal injection in November 2009.
A film based on the tragedy, titled Blue Caprice, which stars Isaiah Washington as John Allen, and Tequan Richmond, best known for TV’s Everybody Hates Chris, as Lee Boyd Malvo, is currently available on iTunes, for those who weren’t able to see it during its limited theatrical run (although I believe it continues to travel).
Directed by Alexandre Moors, a New York-based film, music-video and commercial director, the film is a well-made chilling account of the period John Allen and Malvo spent together, the psychological drama between the two, leading up to their deadly sniper attacks.
Estranged from his wife and children, seemingly the only real human connection he cherishes (his children especially), John, as depicted in Blue Caprice, sees his children as adults tend to see children – as pure and unsullied. But that theory is negated as we watch him strategize with 17-year-old Lee Boyd Malvo,in a chilling scene in a supermarket, as they shop for groceries, during which Muhammad doesn’t even pretend to be covert, ruminating on how best to elude and confuse authorities, and keep profilers off-guard, by killing at random – including women and children.
But once he loses his children, his rage (albeit a composed, mostly internal kind of rage) and desire to “do something” and act against what he feels are injustices against him, as well as a general malaise he believes has numbed the rest of the world, intensifies.
Malvo, in essence, doesn’t entirely replace the 3 children John loses in a custody battle, to his ex-wife, but he’s very much a child – especially one who’s just as alienated, and in desperate need of a father-like figure, and thus highly impressionable, all of which John exploits fully.
We never see John do any actual shooting in the film; The deaths depicted on screen all come from guns fired by Malvo. It’s as if he’s John Allen’s Frankenstein. There’s even a scene in which John says to Malvo, like a proud father to his son, “I’ve created a monster.” And excited by his “creation,” John fantasizes about using a similar kind of manipulation to create an army of young men and women, indoctrinated and used like Malvo – essentially, seemingly soulless killing machines, all in an effort to “wake up” the rest of world, as he sees it.
Some use art as their weapon of choice. Some protest. John kills and destroys. Although it’s not clear that he’s given much thought to what comes after his assembled army “wakes us up.”
Washington plays the character as intelligent, and even charming. He’s considerably poised, and rarely displays any external anxieties.
One wonders whether the affection he seems to have for his own children is genuine, when he’s so pathologically egocentric, and self-centered, believing himself superior to others, and alienating himself from what we call society even further.
He’s incredibly cunning and manipulative. In short, he’s a psychopath.
He’s reminiscent of other real-life and fictional loners who went on to destroy; people who feel as if the rest of the world is against them, and/or that they have some greater insight into the human condition that the rest of us don’t or can’t understand. And they believe that it’s their calling, essentially, via an act that ensures that they have our complete attention. John maybe even envisions himself some kind of a rebel or revolutionary.
But what led to his current state of mind, the film leaves a mystery. We just know that he’s angry at the world (even though it’s a chillingly calm kind of anger), and is driven enough to want to act on that anger. The film just never takes us into his head.
The fear here I suppose is that what happened is something that could happen again – the seeming randomness of it all.
You should definitely see Blue Caprice, at least once, if you haven’t already. Again, it’s on iTunes right now!