Questions Remain as DC Sniper's End Looms

Number of victims a mystery; Muhammed slated to die Tuesday
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 8, 2009 1:34 PM CST
Convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad gestures as he address judge James L. Ryan before the start of his murder trial in Rockville, Md., in this April 28, 2006, file photo.   (AP Photo/Chris Gardner, Pool)
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(Newser) – It galled her to do it, but Sarah Dillon was desperate for answers, so she wrote letters to convicted snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo: If you murdered my son, please confess, she wrote. She got no reply, and as Virginia prepares to execute Muhammed on Tuesday, the most basic question remains about the 2002 DC sniper shootings: How many people did Malvo and Muhammed shoot and kill?

The three-week killing spree is well documented: Muhammad and Malvo shot 13 people at random with a high-powered rifle, from the trunk of a modified, beat-up Chevy Caprice. Ten were killed. But the pair started firing on a cross-country road trip, and Malvo, while less than reliable, has confessed to other shootings. The number of shootings may be as high as 27, though the FBI says it's "complicated." But not for Dillon, whose son was gunned down outside his Texas home: "All I'm asking for is answers," she said, "before they leave this world."