The "DC Sniper" & Who's Your Daddy?


I have often been asked if there was a real life story behind “Who’s Your Daddy?”. The inspiration for that story, John Allen Muhammad, was executed last night.

In 2002 when the first “DC Sniper” shootings began, America was gripped with fear. The shootings were so random. No one, it seemed, was safe. People stopped going to gas stations and some began to wonder if malls or supermarkets were safe.

Many of the profiles from experts in law enforcement suggested that the sniper was a white male and many of us in the black community breathed a sigh of relief. All we needed was another crazy brother with a gun out there for the rest of us to become scapegoats for his crimes.

So you can imagine the shock when it was revealed that the “DC Sniper” was John Muhammad and his young accomplice was a boy named John Malvo. The relief in the black community was now a collective: “WTF?”

The story fascinated me from the start. A young boy effectively abandoned by his parents, but more importantly by his father, who had fallen under the influence of a charismatic older male with a murderous streak. The seeds of tragedy were sown and the bitter harvest was being reaped: “In all, the sniping team would shoot 22 people, murdering 15 of them, in a deadly coast-to-coast spree that stretched from the Northwest to the deep South” (Victim's Brother Says 'Surreal Watching Life Sapped Out' of DC Sniper).

And when Muhammad was arraigned there was even a greater shock. But not with Muhammad. He resembled what I had imagined: a burnt out man who was a cross between a pool hustler and a failed evangelical preacher. But John Malvo? Behind that cherubic face, there was a sinister coldness in his eyes that mortified me. How could a child’s eyes be so deathly cold? How did this young man end up like this?

I began doing the research and it turned out that Malvo’s story is similar to the tale of many fatherless boys growing up in the Caribbean and in Miami—the “barrel” children, the children who have never known the love of a parent or grandparent and are easy prey for the Alpha males with whom they come in contact. These young Malvos are recruited for all kinds of criminality, from selling and transporting ganja, cocaine and heroin to committing murder. And the monetary rewards that they receive are minuscule compared to the risk (Steven Levitt: Crack Economics)—which suggests that the mixture of devotion, admiration and loyalty that these young Malvos have for these older males is something akin to love.

And the strange irony is that these young men grow up to be either Malvos or Obamas.

John Malvo was sentenced to life in prison without parole, and as Grace Nichols, author of "Genesis: The Bullet Was Meant For Me: D.C. Sniper Story Untold" has said, she is at peace with Malvo's sentence of life without parole because "he had the mind of a child who happened to be with a man who became diabolical."

Malvo may still be in prison, but his story is being multiplied in the Caribbean and South Florida. Malvo’s little brothers are still out there playing in the streets of Jamaica and Miami, waiting for another John Muhammad to appear in their lives to train them in the ways of terror.

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Photo: Wikipedia

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