On October 23, 2002, Mildred Muhammad was visited at her Maryland home by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents. They'd come to inform her that her ex-husband, John, had begun shooting people around her. "You are the target," they told her ominously.
John Muhammad would come to be known as the "Beltway Sniper," and with his teen accomplice Lee Malvo, he went on a shooting spree in Maryland, DC and Northern Virginia that left 10 people dead. Malvo is serving a life sentence, and Muhammad is scheduled to be executed November 10 of this year.
In her new book, Scared Silent, Mildred Muhammad talks about her 12-year marriage to John. Things started out well, but John became emotionally and physically abusive after he returned from an Army tour during the Gulf War. Mildred is convinced that his plan was eventually to kill her so that he could regain custody of the children he lost in 2001 and to get compensation for them as crime victims. (He believed the nameless "Beltway Sniper" would be blamed.)
"I was recalling every frightening comment John had ever made to me. He once said, 'When a man hits a woman, it means that he has lost all respect for her. It would be easy for him to kill her after that.' But I did not foresee, not even in my wildest nightmare, that John would ever kill people who had nothing to do with me or our troubled marriage."
Mildred Muhammad hopes that her book will help other victims of domestic violence get the help they need.