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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, a veteran of the first Gulf War, and his seventeen-year-old protégé, Lee Boyd Malvo. In this intimate and carefully documented account, social worker Carmeta Albarus, who served on Malvo's defense team and researched his background, 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.
"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."-The Newark Star-Ledger