Skip to comments.Police confirm sniper link in Va. slaying - Investigator is sure info will "lead us to an arrest"
Posted on 10/15/2002 7:13:36 AM PDT by MeekOneGOP
Police confirm sniper link in Va. slaying
FALLS CHURCH, Va. - Ballistic evidence conclusively links the death of a woman shot in the head in a suburban parking lot with eight other killings by a Washington-area sniper, authorities said Tuesday.
Linda Franklin, 47, of Arlington was shot Monday night as she and her husband loaded packages into their car outside a Home Depot at the Seven Corners Shopping Center, Fairfax County Police Chief Tom Manger said.
Some witnesses were able to give police license plate numbers of vehicles seen leaving the scene, he said.
"There was some additional information that we were able to get from last night's case and I am confident that that information is going to lead us to an arrest in the case," he said.
Police closed highways around Falls Church, about 10 miles west of the nation's capital after the shooting, and said they were on the lookout for a Chevrolet Astro van that had a burned-out left rear tail light and had a chrome ladder on its roof. The highways were reopened in time for rush hour.
"There are a fair number of ways to leave the area," Manger said.
The shooting spree that has terrorized residents in the Washington area began Oct. 2 in Montgomery County, Md. With Monday's shooting, the toll has grown to nine people killed and two seriously wounded in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
"Ballistic evidence has conclusively linked this case to the other murders in the area," Manger said.
Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose, who is leading the task force investing the shootings, was on the scene of the latest shooting.
Manger declined to confirm reports about a specific description of a possible suspect, saying only that several people contacted police after the shooting and that investigators were still interviewing them.
"We have been receiving quite a bit of information from witnesses," Manger said. "Information is always the key in solving cases like this."
Monday's killing occurred at one of northern Virginia's busiest intersections, where major arteries come together to form seven corners. Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI profiler who lives in Fredericksburg, Va., said the location sets the slaying apart from the others.
"This is not bold, this is brazen," he said. "It's a much more highly congested area, even under the cover of darkness."
Kristin Reed, a supervisor at the Barnes & Noble bookstore in the sprawling strip mall, said six employees were locked inside the store for a time with an FBI agent.
"Cops and cops and more cops," Reed said of the scene outside. Shopper Raymond Massas said he "heard one shot. Not very loud, like a snap. After that I heard people start panicking."
Two police helicopters circled the scene as bystanders looked on.
"It hasn't been this frightening since 9/11," said Bob Bakley as he stared across Route 50.
Added Abdel Elkheshisn: "We thought, 'It's in Maryland. It's not here, it's far away."
The sniper had shot 10 people in all in the killing spree that began Oct. 2. On Friday morning, a 53-year-old Philadelphia man was gunned down in Spotsylvania County, Va., as he pumped gas. The killer had gone two straight weekends without an attack.
Earlier Monday, the longest lull yet in the Washington sniper's killing spree brought little relief as jittery residents flooded police with calls upon hearing car backfire, firecrackers or breaking glass.
"Everyone is edgy," said Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose, who is heading the investigation. "People are hearing things that may normally be overlooked."
President Bush said the "cold-blooded" attacks have made him sick to his stomach. "I weep for those who have lost their loved ones," he said. "The idea of moms taking their kids to school and sheltering them from a potential sniper attack is not the America that I know."
Four police squad cars rushed to a Silver Spring car dealership Monday after the window of a customer's BMW shattered when he closed the door. The man dialed 911, thinking a bullet broke the glass.
"He had no idea what happened - he was just freaked out," said David Earhardt, the dealership's service manager.
"People hear a noise, they're going to call - they want to put an end to this just like we do," said Prince William County, Va., Detective Dennis Mangan, whose department brought in a helicopter to search the woods before determining a reported gunshot was just a car backfiring.
Authorities in Baltimore, meanwhile, seized a white van and found an assault rifle, sniper manual and ammunition similar to the .223 bullets used in attacks that have killed eight people and wounded two others, WBAL-TV reported.
MSNBC reported that a tarot card was found in the van and a sign on the dashboard read "Gihad in America." A tarot card was also found at one of the shootings.
The van's owner was questioned Monday night by police and released with no charges filed.
"At this time, the task force believes this is not related to our sniper incidents," said Louise Marthens, a Montgomery County police spokeswoman.
Profilers said a long break could suggest the sniper was trying to outsmart police and change routine.
"Falling into a pattern is falling into a trap," said Robert K. Ressler, a former FBI profiler who helped investigators track killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer. "People this deep into aberrant behavior aren't just going to hang it up and call it quits."
Many schools in the region remained under lockdown Monday, meaning outdoor recess and physical education classes were canceled, and students were kept indoors all day.
"I'm looking around for every white van I see," said Richard Spears, who was mowing grass at James Monroe High School in Fredericksburg, Va. "It makes you a little leery."
Moose said people can now write as well as call with their tips. He gave an address: P.O. Box 7875, Gaithersburg, Md., 20898-7875.
Federal and local investigators refuse to discuss any details of the manhunt. But they have logged some consistencies: the killer favors suburban gas stations; takes down each victim with a single bullet; and, judging from the tarot card left at one of the shootings, appears to enjoy taunting police. It read: "Dear Policeman, I am God."
I wonder why they are not stopping every vehicle.