Inside Today’s FBI: The Beltway Snipers

The Washington Times, Oct. 24, 2002

The Washington Times, Oct. 24, 2002 (Newseum Collection)

When 10 people in the Washington, D.C., area were killed in a series of random sniper attacks in the fall of 2002, the FBI was called in to help sort through a deluge of tips and develop leads in one of the largest manhunts in U.S. history.

More than 140,000 tips were received, but most were useless. A white van spotted at the scene of one shooting became the focus of news media and investigative attention.

When John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were captured in a blue sedan, law enforcement and news outlets faulted each other for focusing too heavily on the van. In the end, the snipers’ boastful phone call to police about a murder in Alabama led to their capture on Oct. 24, 2002 — 14 years ago. Both were convicted of murder; Muhammad was executed and Malvo sentenced to life in prison.

“Inside Today’s FBI” tells the story of the Beltway snipers and features artifacts related to the case, including the snipers’ gun and a pay phone used by one of the snipers to leave a threatening message on the FBI’s tip line.

Artifact Gallery

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