WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sniper Lee Boyd Malvo said in a letter to CNN that he is still "grappling with shame, guilt, remorse and my own healing if that will ever be possible." And a social worker who has worked extensively with him said he draws self-portraits that often show him with a tear running down his cheek.
A self-portrait drawn by sniper Lee Boyd Malvo. Many of his drawings show him with a tear running down his cheek.
Malvo, 22, spends 23 hours a day inside his cell at Virginia's toughest prison, a maximum-security compound called Red Onion, not far from the Kentucky border. He's serving a life sentence.
According to social worker Carmeta Albarus-Lindo, Malvo is a changed person since he and John Allen Muhammad terrorized the Washington area five years ago this month in attacks that left 10 dead over a 23-day period.
"The most I can do is to continue to be there, because that is his greatest fear -- that, you know, another parental figure would abandon him because that was what he'd been exposed to all his life," said Albarus-Lindo, who has spent hundreds of hours with Malvo since his arrest and conviction. Read the letter »
She said one of those "parental" figures was Muhammad, who met Malvo in the Caribbean nearly two years before the deadly shooting spree began in 2002.
Muhammad became the teenager's surrogate father, convincing him that violence was the only way to correct perceived injustices to African-Americans, Albarus-Lindo said.
He ordered Malvo to go to bed each night and to memorize passages from "The Art of War," an ancient Chinese text on battlefield strategy.
According to Albarus-Lindo, Malvo was "brainwashed" into aiding Muhammad in the murders.
However, prosecutors have said Malvo, even at 17, knew what he was doing.
"I thought he was coldblooded," said Paul Ebert, commonwealth attorney for Prince William County, Virginia, of the first time he met Malvo. "He was a person who had chosen a life of crime."
And when a Virginia jury spared Malvo's life, some investigators said they were horrified.
"That was the hardest day of my career," said April Carroll of the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco. "I felt that day we had failed when Malvo was not sentenced to death."
Some of the victims' families said they are content that Malvo did not receive the death penalty. Vicki Buchanan Snyder, whose brother James "Sonny" Buchanan was shot in the back while mowing a patch of lawn at a Maryland auto dealership, said she was "satisfied" with the jury's verdict.
As for Malvo, Albarus-Lindo said he will "never forgive himself for what has happened." When she first began seeing him, he still called Muhammad "Dad." It took months, she said, before he stopped. In the interim, Albarus-Lindo said, he took college correspondence courses and began to draw.
Muhammad is at a Virginia prison called Sussex One. In a DVD made last year inside prison and obtained exclusively by CNN, he said he is "still fighting" on death row. He wants to "correct," he said, some "inaccurate statements" made by the news media about his relationship with Malvo. He wasn't specific about what he meant. Watch Muhammad on death row »
Muhammad's ex-wife, Mildred, said she believed that she was the real target of the snipers from the beginning. She and her children live in suburban Washington, and she runs a Web site called Afterthetrauma.org, devoted to the victims of domestic abuse.
Mildred Muhammad said she feels her ex-husband wanted to kill her as revenge because she was able to gain custody of their three children. As for his relationship with Malvo, she said she too is convinced that John Allen Muhammad brainwashed the younger man.
"That boy was a victim before he even knew it," she said. "His life was over when he said, 'Hi.' " E-mail to a friend
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