By Ian Sager and Scott Stump, TODAY
In an exclusive television interview with TODAY’s Matt Lauer, D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo claims that he was sexually abused by John Allen Muhammad, the mastermind behind the sniper attacks that terrorized the nation’s capital in 2002.
“For the entire period when I was almost 15 until I got arrested, I was sexually abused by John Muhammad,” Malvo said.
“I felt a sense of shame, and I just said, ‘That's just something that I'd never tell anyone.’ And to a certain extent, up until that point, I really couldn't handle it.”
It has been ten years since Malvo and Muhammad went on a rampage that killed 10 and wounded three. Muhammad was executed by lethal injection in 2009. Malvo, who is serving a life sentence at a southwest Virginia prison, said it took years for him to come to terms with the abuse.
“The main reason I'm coming forward now is because I am more mature. As far as the guilt that I carried around for several years, I dealt with that to a large extent for years. And now, I can handle this. In here, there's no therapy. Rehabilitation is just a word. In solitary confinement, in a cell by yourself, I am priest, doctor, therapist. So, it just worked out that I just took it off piece by piece. That I could handle it.”
Malvo also told Lauer that there are victims of his shooting spree that have not been identified.
Law enforcement officials did not comment on the alleged unidentified victims. There is no proof that other crimes occurred. According to former FBI profiler Clint Van Zandt, Malvo's memory of the events may be unreliable, given his age at the time and his relationship with Muhammad.
Malvo told Lauer he has forgiven himself for the murders.
“That's the only way I can live with myself,’’ he said.
Malvo, who told TODAY producers that this would be his final interview about his crimes, also spoke about the families of his victims.
“I would share with them what I've used for myself,’’ he said. “Please do not allow my actions and the actions of Muhammad to hold you hostage and continue to victimize you for the rest of your life. If you give those images and thoughts that power, it will continue to inflict that suffering over and over and over and over and over again. Do not give me or him that much power.”
Malvo detailed his claims of sexual abuse, including by a babysitter at age five and then later on by relatives until he was 10, which he confided to Muhammad.
“I just basically divulged everything,’’ Malvo said. “I saw him to be an excellent listener. So, in doing so, without ambivalence, without holding anything back, I provided him with a blueprint. He knew exactly what motivated me, what I was looking for, what was lacking.”
Malvo described Muhammad's hold on him.
“I couldn't say no,’’ Malvo said. “I had wanted that level of love and acceptance and consistency for all of my life, and couldn't find it. And even if unconsciously, or even in moments of short reflection, I knew that it was wrong, I did not have the willpower to say no.”
Muhammad, a Gulf War veteran who met Malvo in Antigua, trained him to kill over several months, mixing brutal discipline with marksmanship drills. Just under two years after they met and two days before his 17th birthday, Malvo walked up to the front door of a house in Tacoma, Wash., and shot 21-year-old Kenya Cook in the face to prove his commitment.
The two were eventually arrested while sleeping in a Chevrolet with gun ports cut into the trunk.
“My thought process immediately went into trying to figure out where I was, whose custody I was in, and what steps I should take from there, in the sense that I was intent on protecting Mr. Muhammad as best as I could. At that point in time, to a certain extent, I was already dead, and death per se is not what I feared the most. I feared letting him down more than I feared death.”
Malvo referred to himself as a “monster.”
“When someone cannot go beyond themself and begin to consider how their actions affect others, and are solely motivated by their own self-interests, we call them psychopaths,’’ he said.
Malvo denied that he is speaking out in order to garner sympathy or try to get a reduced prison sentence.
“I seriously doubt this is going to change anything as far as my life goes,’’ he said. “I've come to grasp that what I have to look forward to is life in prison.
“I wouldn't wish this on anyone. It was intended to punish, and it is effective. It is complete deprivation. I don't see outside. I have no contact with animals, plants, people.”
Bob Meyers, the brother of Dean Meyers, who was killed by the pair at a gas station in Virginia, spoke to NBC chief justice correspondent Pete Williams earlier this month.
“We recognize that he was tremendously under the control of John Muhammad and he was, probably a good word would be brainwashed, and since that time he’s gotten, as we understand, some mentoring, some help and has had some years to recognize what he did,’’ Meyers said. “Our understanding is that he, given the chance, would not have chosen to take the same course again, but he can’t alter that.”