Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo talked about his role in a notorious killing spree 10 years ago that left 15 people dead and terrified the nation.
WASHINGTON - Lee Boyd Malvo said he remembers each of the sniper shootings in detail. But one moment -- one image -- stands out among the carnage of that terrifying time 10 years ago:
"Mr. Franklin's eyes."
Malvo remembers being in the blue Chevrolet Caprice, in which police found binoculars and walkie-talkies. He scanned the area to make sure John Allen Muhammad had a clean shot. He gave the "go" order and looked across Route 50 in Seven Corners at the target. Muhammad, hidden on a hill above, pulled the trigger. A bullet screamed across the highway, instantly killing Linda Franklin, who just happened to be going about her business at the Home Depot at precisely the wrong time.
But mostly he remembers husband Ted Franklin's eyes -- the devastation, the shock, the sadness. "They are penetrating," Malvo said in a rare media interview from prison. "It is the worst sort of pain I have ever seen in my life. His eyes. ... Words do not possess the depth in which to fully convey that emotion and what I felt when I saw it.
"... You feel like the worst piece of scum on the planet."
Malvo's attitude provides a sharp contrast to his posture 10 years ago. Shortly after his arrest, a boastful, defiant Malvo told investigators he fired the bullet that killed Franklin. He laughed and pointed to his head to show where the bullet struck. Told about Malvo's words, one of those investigators said he wouldn't be surprised if Muhammad fired the fatal shot and thinks Malvo might be coming to grips with what he did.
It has been 10 years since Malvo and Muhammad went on one of the most notorious killing sprees in the nation's history. They even shot and wounded a 13-year-old standing in front of a middle school. Sporting events were canceled. People cowered behind tarps as they filled their cars with gas. Parents kept their children home.
Malvo, the scrawny teenage accomplice, is now 27. He speaks with animation and poise, and with an adult perspective on what he did. He claims to understand the enormity of his actions -- the trail of death and loss and pain he left behind -- and believes that but for Muhammad, he might have accomplished something in life.
"I was a monster," Malvo said. "If you look up the definition, that's what a monster is. I was a ghoul. I was a thief. I stole people's lives. I did someone else's bidding just because they said so. ... There is no rhyme or reason or sense."
Retired FBI agent Brad Garrett, who helped question Malvo in 2002, said he's not surprised by what Malvo is saying in 2012.
"When we interviewed him, our belief was that he was under the spell of Muhammad and that would wear off as time went on," Garrett said. Interrogators "knew that he was covering for Muhammad. He wouldn't put the gun in Muhammad's hands in 2002. The spell was starting to wear off at trial, and now that he's in jail for his entire life he's probably being more realistic about what Muhammad did and didn't do. He's older, and he understands now how impressionable he was."
In three hours of interviews this month, Malvo reflected on the sniper shootings and what led to the deadly spree of crimes that stretched coast to coast. He said he is different now, extricated from Muhammad's grip, and wiser. He said he has deep regret.
Jurors spared his life, largely because they believed that while he was responsible for the killings, he also was under Muhammad's control.
A slight man with close-cropped hair, Malvo has a broad smile and often uses his hands to express himself.
Though at peace with a life behind bars -- "I see opportunity everywhere" -- Malvo said he has had to work hard to recover from what he calls a total brainwashing at the hands of a "sinister" and "evil" man who manipulated him into an effective "killing machine."
Malvo is outwardly apologetic to victims and their families. When asked what he would say to them, he implored people to forget about him.
"We can never change what happened," Malvo said. "There's nothing that I can say except don't allow me and my actions to continue to victimize you for the rest of your life. It may sound cold, but it's not. It's the only sound thing I can offer. You and you alone have the power to control that."