Culpeper Times • October 18-24, 2018
➤ Muhammad, from Page 4 shooting spree in the south that led to 17 deaths. The intended target of those shootings was Mildred - who had, by that time, divorced John and had regained custody of her three children with him. She was in hiding in Maryland, living with her sister and brother-in-law when she was informed it was her ex-husband behind the killings. Her story started in Washington state, where the couple lived after John returned home from the 1991 Gulf War. “He wasn’t the same person,” Mildred said, explaining that before he left he was the life of the party, but when he returned he sat, sullen and rocking in his chair. They were married 12 years but she filed for divorce when he began cheating on her, and that’s when the abuse started. It started as controlling, changing her phone number, sneaking in at night into their apartment when he wasn’t living with her, eventually taking the kids and never returning them. She filed the proper paperwork but each time was told there was more she was supposed to do. The system failed her. He eventually took the children and left the country, ultimately going to Antigua where he met Lee
Boyd Malvo. All the while, Mildred fought to have her children returned to her and once they were able to locate them, they had an emergency custody meeting that she won. She took the children and hid, as John had threatened her life. While living in Maryland, she was approached by the FBI in October of 2002, asking when she last had contact with her husband. It was at that custody meeting, and she hadn’t heard from him since. It was then that the FBI and ATF informed her that her husband was the sniper, she was the target and she and her children had to hide. Shortly after, he was arrested, later convicted and ultimately executed. She sought help from counselors for her and her three children, but found no help. Instead, she taught herself to be a counselor and counseled her family. Now, her three children are grown - her son is a manager at a sunglasses hut and her daughters are singers - and she speaks out to help those who feel they don’t have a voice. “It’s no longer painful coming to speak out about it, my ultimate goal is to continue to bring awareness to domestic violence,” Muhammad said. “Women and children and men are dying and we need to
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The community gathers outside Culpeper Baptist Church for the annual Culpeper Task Force on Domestic and Sexual Violence candlelight vigil Oct. 16. try to do more to understand and stop it.” When asked how to prevent domestic violence, Muhammad took a moment to think - admitting there were a million ideas going through her mind. “It starts in elementary school, teaching children about good relationships,” she said. “If we can stop it in the infancy stage, maybe they will have a different outlook on what relationships are supposed to look like.” During her speech, she told the public to not to shame or judge the
victims, instead of telling them what to do, ask victims “how can I help you?” “You don’t want to leave a victim out in the wilderness crying for help,” Muhammad said. “So often victims feel ashamed and guilty anyway. They don’t always reach out until the very last minute. You see Mr. Hyde, I’m dealing with Dr. Jekyll.” Following her presentation and the candlelight vigil, she met with victims, survivors and those going through domestic violence situations and comforted them.
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