Over nearly three weeks, the sniper killed 10 people and wounded three others in the District of Columbia area. Eventually, police learned the D.C. shootings were the culmination of a cross-country killing spree in which 27 people had been shot and 17 killed. As the series of murders continued, news coverage increased in intensity, especially on the cable television news channels.
Law enforcement officials complained the coverage was so intense it interfered with the investigation. After one of the shootings, a Washington television station revealed that the killer had left behind a tarot card with the words "Mr. Policeman, I am God" scrawled on it. The note on the card had also asked police not to reveal it to the press. Charles Moose, who was the police chief in Montgomery County, Maryland, complained that the disclosure had severely impaired the investigation.
Later, Newhouse News Service reporter Dru Sefton showed that the sniper was responding to news reports. After a school official appeared on television to reassure parents their children were safe, the sniper shot a 13-year-old boy outside his school. And when a profiler noted that all of the killings had been on weekdays, the next shooting came on a Saturday.
Eventually, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, who were 41 and 17 at the time, were arrested and charged with the killings. In separate trials, each was convicted of one of the killings in Virginia. Muhammad was sentenced to death and executed, and Malvo was sentenced to life in prison. Muhammad and Malvo also were sentenced to six consecutive life sentences for six killings in Maryland.