Collections Update: Beltway Snipers Task Force

Collections Update: Beltway Snipers Task Force

In late July, the National Law Enforcement Museum received an exciting new addition on loan from the Prince William County (VA) Police Department. This historically significant and unique collection includes the complete inventory of Task Force evidence used by law enforcement during the investigation and trial of John Allen Muhammad and Lee Malvo (also known as “The Beltway Snipers”), the criminals behind the deadly sniper attacks that terrorized the greater-Washington, DC area in October 2002.

Photograph: 1990 Chevy Caprice used by the Beltway Snipers, 2002. Evidence from the DC Sniper Task Force Collection. Loan courtesy of Prince William County (VA) Police Department. L2012.1. National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC.

This comprehensive collection contains the infamous blue 1990 Chevy Caprice (pictured right) driven by Muhammad and Malvo and used for the attacks, as well as the physical evidence related to the individual sniper incidents, which claimed the lives of 10 people and seriously injured others.

The evidence consists of items like bullet fragments and a tarot card recovered from various crime scenes, a blue can of spray paint used to camouflage the inside of the car’s trunk, and everything from inside the Caprice when Muhammad and Malvo were captured, including several maps and atlases.

This month, Museum staff began the process of cataloging the collection, a carefully managed system classifying the various documents, images, and objects that were compiled as evidence and used in this complicated, multi-jurisdictional case. One of the Museum’s earliest changing exhibits in The DuPont Gallery will use items from this collection to tell the complex story of law enforcement’s vital role in investigating and solving the Beltway Sniper case.

Click photo to enlarge. Click photo to enlarge.
Photograph: Taken by law enforcement near a Sunoco gas station in Prince William County (VA), the crime scene of one of the DC sniper attacks, 2002. Evidence from the DC Sniper Task Force Collection, Loan courtesy of Prince William County Police Department. L2012.1. National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC. Evidence: Fraudulent IDs belonging to John Allen Muhammad, 2002. Evidence from the DC Sniper Task Force Collection. Loan courtesy of Prince William County (VA) Police Department. L2012.1. National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC.

This collection will be further highlighted at the next event in our panel discussion series—Witness to History: Washington, DC-Area Sniper Attacks, 10 Years Later. Panelists will include Chief Charles Deane, Prince William County (VA) Police Department; Mr. Josh White, investigative reporter for the Washington Post; Chief Charles Moose (ret.), Montgomery County (MD) Police Department; and Lieutenant David Reichenbaugh (ret.), Maryland State Police.

Be sure to register for the event on September 18 in Washington, DC!

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