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Yesterday Officials Combed Through Backyard of Home in Tacoma, Washington
Aired October 24, 2002 - 06:22 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: As we know, yesterday officials spent a good time combing through the backyard of a home in Tacoma, Washington, a long way away from Washington, D.C., looking for some evidence in the sniper investigation.
On the phone we me again is Lou Pate with KIRO.
Lou, a busy night for us here. Anything new there?
LOU PATE, KIRO CORRESPONDENT: No, as we speak, it's pretty much the status quo. All eyes pointing towards your direction of the country in Frederick County, where the arrests took place, as you have been reporting all night. Nothing really to report here in the Bellingham investigation. They seem to have gone to sleep up there and probably will have more tomorrow. And down in Tacoma, where, which was the nucleus, the eye of the hurricane in yesterday's investigation, where the two yards were dug up, we do not believe the FBI will be coming back there, as our reports who are on the scene told us. They've dug up the yard and they did not seal it as a crime scene. There is nobody there at those two homes that is keeping anybody from walking through the yard and, you know, tainting evidence.
So they're gone. They probably will not be back there, at least to dig up anything. It seems that they have gotten all the information out of that piece of earth and those two yards that they will need. Hence the tree stump.
CALLAWAY: And it's now heading its way back to Washington, D.C. for investigators to sift through.
Lou, we got quite a good deal of information from James Hattori there on that search that took place in Tacoma.
I want to go to the Bellamy, Washington search. That, of course, is just north of Tacoma. Interesting developments there, as we heard James say, and you earlier, that one of the suspects being questioned right now, this John Lee Muhammad, 17 years old, apparently the stepson of this John Allen Malvo, went to school there, high school in Bellamy, in Bellingham, rather. A high school that was searched also by officials.
What do you know or what are you hearing about what they were looking for in that high school?
PATE: Well, they're pretty close-lipped. We spoke earlier in the night with Mayor Mark Asmundson from Bellingham. He said that the FBI actually was up there a few days ago kind of just showed up, quiet as a mouse, as the FBI can be. They started to ask questions, conduct their information, investigation, excuse me, looking into anything they can find out about 17-year-old John Lee Malvo.
All we know at this time is that he was confirmed to be a student at Bellingham High School. He was a quiet student. Most students there don't even remember him. A few of them who were in his history class just remember him as being, you know, opinionated, very opinionated, to the point that they'd even mention it, about lessons in history.
The weird thing about this, Catherine, is that he lived at a mission. He didn't live at home.
CALLAWAY: Oh, really? That is interesting.
PATE: We know that John Allen Williams is his stepfather, but he didn't live at home. He lived at this mission and nobody at the mission seems to remember him even. And that's very odd that one would be totally forgotten in a place as small as a mission.
CALLAWAY: Jamaican descent, as well, we know about John Lee Malvo. No memories, no knowledge of John Allen Muhammad ever living there in Bellingham?
PATE: No. The only connection that he has is to about 90 miles south of Bellingham, Fort Lewis. He was stationed there. He has a 10 year military record. We don't know how much of that time he spent in Fort Lewis. And I just wanted to make the point, Catherine, that Fort Lewis has a special sniper training program. That's one of the things that it's known for. We do not know, and I want to stress, we do not know at this time whether John Allen Williams or John Muhammad was trained in this program.
CALLAWAY: Well, I should tell you, Lou, that our James Hattori had reported that we have word that he was not. Of course, this is a fluid situation. Information seems to be coming out just about every 15 minutes in this story, at least it has since last night.
The memories there of John Lee Muhammad's time spent in Bellingham, how long was he there?
PATE: We don't know exactly how long he was there, but we do know that he did leave a year and a half ago. It wasn't, I'm getting the impression from people that I've talked to and people that our reporters here in KIRO have talked to that he wasn't there for that long a period of time. But we do know for the fact that he left a year and a half ago.
Now, they have to fill in the puzzle as to where has he been in a year and a half to this point in time.
CALLAWAY: Do we know what was removed from the high school, what they were looking for? PATE: No. They would not release that information. The school was mum on it. The mayor was mum on it. It seems that they've, that bedroom community up there, which houses Western Washington University, is being very tight-lipped.
CALLAWAY: You know, you watch this horrible situation unfolding in Washington, D.C., with so many people losing their lives at the hands of this sniper, I'm quite sure, Lou, that no one up there where you are had any idea there would be any type of connection to this sniper case that would be felt in their backyard.
PATE: Catherine, let me tell you, it was the furthest thing from anybody's mind. You know, people were sympathetic to the victims. They're sympathetic to the families and the torture that they were going through. There was concern. And we talked about a lot of the callers called in and basically said, you know -- and I said -- it could happen anywhere USA. But it was so far away that people were interested in the story, but they didn't, there was no worries about it here except for the, you know, the normal fact is it could be anywhere USA.
And then it lands in your own backyard and that makes people sit up and wonder, you know, do we really have to be more aware of our surroundings. We have to be more vigilant, as law enforcement has been asking us to be.
CALLAWAY: All right, Lou Pate with KIRO, thanks for being with us again.
We want to remind everyone that there are two individuals now being questioned in custody now in Montgomery County. John Allen Muhammad, who I'm sure you've seen his photograph if you've been watching television the last 12 hours. Authorities were search for him and his stepson, John Lee Malvo. They apparently have been found inside that Caprice that police were looking for, the 1990 Chevy Caprice with the New Jersey license plate. These two individuals found sleeping inside the vehicle off the highway at a rest stop at Interstate 70 in Maryland.
We're continuing to follow this developing story. We're going to take a break right now. Much more in a moment. Stay with us, everyone.
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