Skip to main content
CNN Europe CNN Asia
On CNN TV Transcripts Headline News CNN International About Preferences
powered by Yahoo!

Police seize white box truck with shell casing inside

Matthew M. Dowdy, seen here in his mug shot, is charged with making a false statement to police.
Matthew M. Dowdy, seen here in his mug shot, is charged with making a false statement to police.

   Story Tools

more video VIDEO
Discredited witness reports have caused police to shift the focus of the latest sniper shooting
premium content

Police: Information from one reported witness 'not credible'
premium content

Many wonder: Will life ever return to normal?
premium content

The use of 'ballistic fingerprinting' in the hunt for the sniper.
premium content
• Interactive: The death penalty
• Interactive: Police close in
• Interactive: Suspects' trail
• Story: D.C. area victims
Tip line:
$500,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people involved in the shootings.
Write-in tips:
P.O. Box 7875
Gaithersburg, MD
Reward contribution line:

Suspect vehicles:
White Chevrolet Astro-type minivan with a ladder rack on its roof; Ford Econoline van with a ladder rack on its roof; white box-type truck

ROCKVILLE, Maryland (CNN) -- Investigators of the Washington-area sniper shootings Friday night seized a white box truck after a shell casing was found inside the vehicle at a Virginia car rental agency, Montgomery County Police said.

The caliber of the casing is unknown at this point. The casing and the truck are to be examined by forensics experts at an undisclosed location. The federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is expected to have results of ballistics testing on the shell casing no sooner than 9 a.m. Saturday.

The Montgomery County Police Department, which is leading the multi-jurisdictional task force to find the sniper who has killed nine people and wounded two others since October 2, has sent a team of investigators to the rental car agency.

The shootings have taken place in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

Authorities would not say when Friday night they seized the vehicle or how they were tipped to it.

However, a source close to the investigation said an employee at a rental agency near Washington Dulles International Airport found the shell casing when he was cleaning out the truck and then notified authorities.

Police would not disclose further details about the truck, for instance, if it had lettering on the side or a damaged right rear bumper as did the composite graphic of a suspect vehicle some witnesses have reported near shooting scenes in Maryland.

Police also said they are still actively searching for the vehicle in that composite and still want the public to provide information pertaining to the shootings.

Man charged for false information

Meanwhile, the person who claimed to have seen a man with a gun just before the latest shooting has been arrested and charged with giving false information, authorities said.

The would-be witness was identified as Matthew M. Dowdy, 37, of Falls Church, Virginia, according to Fairfax County Police Officer Sophia Grinnan. Law enforcement sources said he has a criminal record and goes by the nickname "Slim."

Dowdy originally was thought to be a key witness in the shooting of 47-year-old Linda Franklin outside the Home Depot store in Falls Church Monday.

He's been charged with one count of knowingly and willfully making a false statement to an officer who was in the course of investigating a crime by another, a Class 2 misdemeanor, Grinnan said.

Dowdy is in police custody and faces up to six months in prison if he's convicted.

Montgomery County, Maryland, Executive Doug Duncan said he was pleased with the arrest.

"This is a serious matter, lives are at stake. We cannot have people misleading police and wasting our time," he said.

On Thursday and Friday police were back at the parking garage searching for new clues.

Sources said other people at the crime scene provided partial license plate numbers and those are still being evaluated.

With the sniper investigation now in its third week, the only "common denominator" in all reports is that the shooter is a male. (What is known about the sniper)

In other developments:

  • U.S. senators were warned earlier this week that those who play golf may be targets of al Qaeda snipers on golf courses and were given tips on how to protect themselves, a U.S. Capitol Police spokeswoman said. (Full story)
  • Local high schools have moved or postponed many athletic events. (Full Story)
  • FBI agents have been questioning an al Qaeda suspect being held in Belgium who bragged to his interrogators that he had witnessed al Qaeda training for snipers, European intelligence sources said Friday. The FBI refused to confirm or deny it had sent agents to Brussels.
  • Federal investigators plan to question suspected al Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere to see if any of them have any information about the sniper attacks in the Washington area, even though officials say there has been no indication of a link between organized terror and the shootings. (Full story)
  • Hundreds of local, state and federal agents are working the case, and the Pentagon has authorized the use of Army surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft in the hunt for the killer or killers. (Federal resources and military role) The aircraft to be used are the RC-7 and the U-21. (Aircraft profiles)

  • Story Tools

    Top Stories
    Father guilty of killing 9 of his children
    Top Stories
    CNN/Money: Security alert issued for 40 million credit cards
    © 2004 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
    A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
    Terms under which this service is provided to you.
    Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
    external link
    All external sites will open in a new browser. does not endorse external sites.