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The Religious Affiliation of Infamous "Beltway Sniper" Serial Killer
Lee Boyd Malvo
Lee Boyd Malvo - Malvo is the younger member of the "Beltway Sniper" duo that infamously terrorized the Washington D.C. area in October 2002, killing 10 victims and injuring 3 others. Malvo was a convert, baptized as an SDA at the age of 14. But under the influence of fellow sniper John Allen Muhammad, Malvo converted to Islam before becoming a killer. A CNN report is one of many sources describing Malvo's SDA background (Mike Ahlers, "Sniper victims' families describe heartache: Defense case to save Malvo's life continues Monday", December 19, 2003, URL: http://www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/12/19/sprj.dcsp.malvo.trial/):
Jamaican pastor Lorenzo King, who baptized Malvo into the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1999 at the age 14, testified that Malvo "appeared to be lonely. And he seemed to be searching for belonging. You could sense that in him."
Malvo's conversion to Islam under the influence of John Allen Muhammad received much more new coverage than his earlier SDA affiliation. This Slate piece is an example (Dahlia Lithwick, "The Pied Sniper: Was Lee Boyd Malvo brainwashed into a killing machine?", Slate.com, Sept. 25, 2003, URL: http://slate.msn.com/id/2088893/):
"I have no doubt about the quality of his commitment. He was fully committed to the beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church," King said. "On the evening he was baptized he walked approximately two miles bringing his clothes with him."
Strangely, Lee Malvo looks like as good a candidate for a first-generation brainwashing defense as there could be. He meets Lifton's original criteria for POW brainwashing almost exactly: An individual who was isolated, degraded, forced to perform repetitive tasks, made to renounce earlier values -- Malvo converted to Islam under Muhammad's guardianship -- and cut off from external sources of information may actually claim that he's been brainwashed. And science does not disagree. The question is, will a court and jury buy it?
Webpage created 15 July 2005. Last modified 20 October 2005.
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