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Wednesday, 23 October, 2002, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Messages from the sniper
Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose
Chief Moose has responded via the media
The sniper believed to have killed 10 people in the Washington area since 2 October has been trying to communicate with police.

BBC News Online draws together what has been revealed and reported about the messages flowing between investigators and the presumed killer.

Tarot card - Monday 7 October

A tarot card with the words "Dear Mr Policeman, I am God" written on back is found at the scene of one of the shootings.

Letter - Saturday 19 October

Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose reveals that a letter found at the scene of the shooting at the Ponderosa restaurant in Ashland, Virginia, contained a chilling postscript:

"Your children are not safe anywhere or at anytime."

Open in new window : Trail of terror
Map showing location of recent attacks

Several further details about the letter are reported in the US media:

  • It demanded $10m. Sources quoted by the Washington Post said the writer gave a deadline of Monday for the money to be deposited in a bank account.

  • It contained the words "I am God" (CNN quoting "sources close to the investigation", Washington Post quoting "law enforcement sources")

  • The writer listed several instances when operators had hung up on calls made in attempts to contact the authorities (Washington Post quoting "law enforcement sources"). The caller said things like "God is on the line" (ABC)

  • The letter called the police "incompetent" and said "five people had to die" because of this (Washington Post quoting "law enforcement sources")

  • If investigators were more concerned with "stopping" the killings than making an arrest, it said, they should follow the orders precisely, or else there would be "body bags" (Washington Post quoting "a source")

  • The letter was handwritten, more than three pages long and contained grammatical mistakes (CNN and Washington Post, both quoting "sources")

  • The letter was found pinned to a tree, sealed and wrapped in plastic (Washington Post quoting "several sources")

    Reported tarot cards - Saturday 19 October

    More than one tarot card is reportedly found at the scene of the shooting at the Ponderosa restaurant (Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper quoting "police sources at the scene")

    Police response - Sunday 20 October

    Chief Moose sends a message through the media:

    "To the person who left us a message at the Ponderosa last night. You gave us a telephone number. We do want to talk with you. Call us at the number you provided."

    Phone call - Monday 21 October

    Another televised message from Mr Moose reveals an individual thought to be the sniper has been in telephone contact, but the voice was not fully intelligible:

    "The person you called could not hear everything you said; the audio was unclear and we want to get it right."

    "Call us back so that we can clearly understand."

    Further details about the call are reported by the US media:

  • The caller is male and has an accent, but experts cannot agree on the type of accent. The voice may have been electronically disguised (CNN quoting "sources close to the investigation")

    Police response - Tuesday 22 October

    On Tuesday evening, a televised message from Mr Moose suggests further telephone communication has taken place:

    "In the past several days you have attempted to communicate with us.

    "We have researched the option you stated and found that it is not possible electronically to comply in the manner you requested.

    "However, we remain open and ready to talk to you about the options you have mentioned.

    "It is important that we do this without anyone else getting hurt.

    "Call us at the same number you used before to obtain the 800 number you have requested.

    "If you would feel more comfortable, a private P.O. box number or another secure method can be provided.

    "You indicated that this is about more than violence. We are waiting to hear from you."

    Reported letter - Tuesday 22 October

    A multi-page letter repeating earlier demands was reportedly found at the scene of the shooting of a Maryland bus driver (Baltimore Sun citing "law enforcement source")


  • Key Stories

    Background

    TALKING POINT

    AUDIO VIDEO
    Launch MAP OF THE SHOOTINGS
    arrow
    Trail of terror
    (Opens new window)
    See also:

    23 Oct 02 | Americas
    22 Oct 02 | Americas
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