Sniper's ex-wife tells story to YWCA
LISA KREMER; The News Tribune
The ex-wife of convicted Washington, D.C., sniper John Muhammad said Tuesday that one of the hardest parts of raising her three children is helping them love their father.
Mildred Muhammad, who lived in Tacoma while married to John Muhammad for five years in the 1990s, was a featured speaker at Tuesday's annual YWCA luncheon. Muhammad is shy about speaking in public and lives in Maryland, so she recorded her comments on videotape. The tape was played during the luncheon.
It was an unusual session because since the shootings, Muhammad has spoken publicly about her ex-husband only in court and in one newspaper interview.
YWCA officials asked Muhammad to speak because of her successful experience with the organization. She divorced her husband in 1999. The next year, he kidnapped their three young children, taking them to Antigua and later to Bellingham. Mildred Muhammad didn't see the children for 18 months.
In her speech Tuesday, Muhammad said lawyers and counselors at the YWCA were "women who God had put in my way to help me." With their help, she said, she learned to navigate the courthouse and learned legal procedures to help recover her children.
Muhammad took her children with her to Maryland, where she has family. She believes John Muhammad and a young friend, Lee Boyd Malvo, conspired to kill 10 people and wound several others in 2002 because they eventually planned to kill her.
Muhammad and Malvo both were convicted of murder last year. Muhammad was sentenced to death, Malvo to life in prison.
"Despite everything, John Muhammad is their father," she said of her children. "Yes, he did cause all those people to be killed, in a plan to kill me. (But) it is OK for them to love him, it is OK for them to want to reach out to him. ... They're children. Children want to love their father."
Muhammad said she recorded the video tape because she wants people to support the YWCA, which she said provides legal services that are so desperately needed by victims of batterers.
It's difficult for women to ask for help, she said, because women are taught to protect men.
"Once we come out to get help, that should be extended," she said. "It shouldn't be a matter of wondering if they'll believe me. The one thing the YWCA did is, they believed me."Lisa Kremer: firstname.lastname@example.org