In October of 2002, a series of sniper attacks paralyzed the
Washington Beltway, turning normally placid gas stations, parking
lots, restaurants, and school grounds into chaotic killing fields.
After the spree, ten people were dead and several others wounded.
The perpetrators were forty-one-year-old John Allen Muhammad and
his seventeen-year-old protégé, Lee Boyd Malvo.
Called in by the judge to serve on Malvo's defense team, social
worker Carmeta Albarus was instructed by the court to uncover any
information that might help mitigate the death sentence the teen
faced. Albarus met with Malvo numerous times and repeatedly
traveled back to his homeland of Jamaica, as well as to Antigua, to
interview his parents, family members, teachers, and friends. What
she uncovered was the story of a once promising, intelligent young
man, whose repeated abuse and abandonment left him detached from
his biological parents and desperate for guidance and support. In
search of a father figure, Malvo instead found John Muhammad, a
veteran of the first Gulf War who intentionally shaped his protégé
through a ruthlessly efficient campaign of brainwashing, sniper
training, and race hatred, turning the susceptible teen into an
angry, raging, and dissociated killer with no empathy for his
In this intimate and carefully documented account, Albarus
details the nature of Malvo's tragic attachment to his perceived
"hero father," his indoctrination, and his subsequent dissociation.
She recounts her role in helping to extricate Malvo from the
psychological clutches of Muhammad, which led to a dramatic
courtroom confrontation with the man who manipulated and exploited
him. Psychologist Jonathan H. Mack identifies and analyzes the
underlying clinical psychological and behavioral processes that led
to Malvo's dissociation and turn toward serial violence. With this
tragic tale, the authors emphasize the importance of parental
attachment and the need for positive and loving relationships
during the critical years of early childhood development. By
closely examining the impact of Lee Boyd Malvo's childhood on his
later development, they reach out to parents, social workers, and
the community for greater awareness and prevention.
Subjects: Law, Sociology, Psychology
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