Lee Boyd Malvo, who was convicted along with John Allen Muhammad in the 2002 D.C. sniper shootings that left 10 dead and three wounded, says he remembers the killings vividly but can't explain why he did what he did.
"I was a monster," Malvo told the Washington Post in a recent interview from a Virginia prison where he's serving six consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. "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."
Malvo, now 27, was a teenager at the time of the shootings. Muhammad was executed in 2009. The shooting spree lasted three weeks before the pair were arrested at a truck stop in Maryland.
"At that point in time, I had been desensitized," Malvo continued. "In the midst of the task, there is no feeling. It got to a point where I'd get in a zone. There was nothing else but whoever is before me, and anything that comes between me and, as you would say, the target, I'm either going to destroy, or if it's too big, find a way around it. Nothing is going to stop me but death to get that done. ... I was able to tap into a place that if there was a soul there it was behind layers and layers and layers of darkness."
Muhammad, Malvo said, was a father figure to him.
"I trusted him," he said. "I was unable to distinguish between Muhammad the father I had wanted and Muhammad the nervous wreck that was just falling to pieces. He understood exactly how to motivate me by giving approval or denying approval. It's very subtle. It wasn't violent at all. It's like what a pimp does to a woman."
"He picked me because he knew he could mold me," he said. "He knew I could be what he needed me to be. ... He could not have chosen a better child."
After their arrest, Malvo said, he claimed responsibility for the killings in an attempt to save Muhammad from the death penalty.
"I did everything I thought I could do to save his life," Malvo said. "It was just a mixture of half-truths, details that only I or the killer would know, because I was there. What's crazy is this entire process. I'm concerned for him, and he doesn't give a rat's a-- whether I live or die."