Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Making of Lee Boyd Malvo: The D.C. Sniper

The Making of Lee Boyd Malvo: The D.C. Sniper

by Carmeta Albarus, Jonathan Mack

See All Formats & Editions

In October of 2002, a series of sniper attacks paralyzed the Washington Beltway, turning normally placid gas stations, parking lots, restaurants, and school grounds into chaotic killing fields. After the spree, ten people were dead and several others wounded. The perpetrators were forty-one-year-old John Allen Muhammad and his seventeen-year-old


In October of 2002, a series of sniper attacks paralyzed the Washington Beltway, turning normally placid gas stations, parking lots, restaurants, and school grounds into chaotic killing fields. After the spree, ten people were dead and several others wounded. The perpetrators were forty-one-year-old John Allen Muhammad and his seventeen-year-old protégé, Lee Boyd Malvo.

Called in by the judge to serve on Malvo's defense team, social worker Carmeta Albarus was instructed by the court to uncover any information that might help mitigate the death sentence the teen faced. Albarus met with Malvo numerous times and repeatedly traveled back to his homeland of Jamaica, as well as to Antigua, to interview his parents, family members, teachers, and friends. What she uncovered was the story of a once promising, intelligent young man, whose repeated abuse and abandonment left him detached from his biological parents and desperate for guidance and support. In search of a father figure, Malvo instead found John Muhammad, a veteran of the first Gulf War who intentionally shaped his protégé through a ruthlessly efficient campaign of brainwashing, sniper training, and race hatred, turning the susceptible teen into an angry, raging, and dissociated killer with no empathy for his victims.

In this intimate and carefully documented account, Albarus details the nature of Malvo's tragic attachment to his perceived "hero father," his indoctrination, and his subsequent dissociation. She recounts her role in helping to extricate Malvo from the psychological clutches of Muhammad, which led to a dramatic courtroom confrontation with the man who manipulated and exploited him. Psychologist Jonathan H. Mack identifies and analyzes the underlying clinical psychological and behavioral processes that led to Malvo's dissociation and turn toward serial violence. With this tragic tale, the authors emphasize the importance of parental attachment and the need for positive and loving relationships during the critical years of early childhood development. By closely examining the impact of Lee Boyd Malvo's childhood on his later development, they reach out to parents, social workers, and the community for greater awareness and prevention.

Editorial Reviews

helps explain how a good kid turned bad enough to coldly kill one person after another...fascinating

Kathleen Carty
Lee Boyd Malvo's chaotic life at the hands of 'caregivers' didn't make headlines until he pulled the trigger. Carmeta Albarus's detailed account—from extensive interviews with the boy who was groomed by a predator to murder—provides compelling insight into the mitigating circumstances of his story.

Robert L. Sadoff
This is an extremely well written book that reads like a novel, but is based on true events. I strongly recommend every medical student, psychiatric resident, and fellow in forensic psychiatry read it to learn of the psychodynamics behind homicide and violent behavior and the details of developing a proper mental health defense.

Geneive Brown Metzger
The Making of Lee Boyd Malvo offers the unabashed truth about children who face emotional and psychological scars resulting from feelings of rejection, abandonment, and other trauma by being left home by parents who immigrated overseas.

Newark Star Ledger
The book can be illuminating, especially when Albarus describes what it was like to pierce Malvo's shield and help wrest his psyche from Muhammad.

Toronto Globe and Mail - Paul Koring
The book makes no effort to exculpate the Jamaican-born Mr. Malvo, but traces his life in detail.

Washington Post - Del Quentin Wilber
One of the more interesting aspects of the book is its lengthy excerpts from Malvo's writings, poetry and artwork, which reveal an introspective youth trying to make sense of his crimes.

The Atlantic - Andrew Cohen
Named a Best 2012 Book About Justice - if you want a sense of the damage a broken life can create for innocent victims decades later, read this book.

Publishers Weekly
In October 2002, 10 people were killed and four injured in attacks attributed to the “D.C. Sniper,” soon identified as John Muhammad, and his 17-year-old protégé, Lee Boyd Malvo, now serving life imprisonment. In this incisive account of a young life eroded by neglect and manipulated by a powerful father figure, forensic social worker Albarus details her involvement as a mitigation specialist during Malvo’s trial. Growing up in Jamaica, Malvo was routinely abused by his mother and shuttled between relatives and boarding houses. Still, he excelled at school while seeking the approval of parental figures. While living on Antigua, at age 15, he bonded most strongly with John Muhammad, whom he soon referred to as his father. The two headed to the U.S. to carry out Muhammad’s mission of a form of race war and Muhammad’s desire to regain custody of his three children. Muhammad drilled Malvo in combat training, systematically brainwashing the teen and subordinating his identity into Muhammad’s own. Albarus’s challenge was not only to understand the pair’s motivation but to help Malvo reclaim his identity. The forensic psychological analysis by Mack, while dense, is fascinating and provides further insight into the troubling case. Illus. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In 2002 the nation held its breath as the Beltway sniper shootings raged on. John Allen Muhammad, 41, and Lee Boyd Malvo, 17, were apprehended after ten people were murdered and a handful of others were injured. Albarus was a forensic social worker for Malvo during his trial, hired by the court to find mitigating factors in his case, and she got to know him well. She attempts to explain how Malvo emerged as a serial killer, arguing that he was totally influenced by the nefarious Muhammad, who manipulated him, turning him into a minion who unquestioningly adopted Muhammad's militaristic mindset and desire to ignite a race war. Albarus interviewed Malvo's family and friends and makes a convincing case for how a boy with the intellectual ability to succeed could ultimately be felled by abusive parents, leading him to turn to Muhammad as a father figure. Albarus also recounts how she helped him realize what had happened to him psychologically so that he could reclaim his sense of self. VERDICT A good book for readers interested in criminal justice, psychology, and social work.—Krista Bush, Shelton Public Sch. Lib., CT

Product Details

Columbia University Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Carmeta Albarus, MSW, LCSW, is a forensic social worker of national prominence with more than twenty years of experience as a mitigation specialist. Qualified as an expert in psychosocial investigations and assessments in both state and federal courts, she has participated in more than five hundred criminal cases and is president and founder of CVA Consulting Services Inc., a forensic social work agency based in Harlem, New York.

Jonathan H. Mack, Psy.D., is a forensic and clinical neuropsychologist and psychologist with a national reputation as a specialist in the forensic neuropsychological and psychological assessment of homicide cases. He has testified in approximately two hundred cases as an expert witness in his fields and is director of Forensic Psychology and Neuropsychology Services, PC, and Neuropsychology and Rehabilitation Associates, which trains postdoctoral fellows working under Mack's supervision in clinical neuropsychology.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews