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THE NATION | THE SNIPER CASE

Letter Offered Specifics on Snipers

October 26, 2002|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — The cover page is neat and impressive. "For you Mr. Police," it says. "Call me God." The words are surrounded by five stars placed in an orderly way.

The letter left at the sniper shooting in Ashland, Va., on Oct. 19 is chilling in its detail and its threats but also provides a treasure trove of clues.

It contains phone numbers and locations the snipers called in half a dozen unsuccessful attempts to contact authorities. It also lists account information about a stolen platinum Visa card that the assailants wanted reactivated with $10 million that they could freely access.

"We will have unlimited withdrawl at any atm worldwide," reads the letter, which continues for three pages after the cover. It provided the Bank of America card's account number, personal identification number, the activation and expiration dates and the name of the woman who legitimately owned the card.

"You will activate the bank account, credit card, and Pin number," the letter demanded.

Experts said the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Post, indicates the snipers may not have been as clever as originally thought. The copy confirms reports that the letter complains about six calls that were dismissed by operators at the police command center in Rockville, Md., the Montgomery County, Md., police department and the FBI -- and that it contains a terrifying postscript: "Your children are not safe anywhere at any time."

But the letter is surprising in how specific it is -- providing, for example, the last name of an officer who supposedly took one of the calls to Montgomery police.

"These people took [our] calls for a hoax or joke, so your failure to respond has cost you five lives," it said.

The letter was found sealed, in plastic and tacked to a tree behind a Ponderosa steakhouse in Ashland, where a man was shot and wounded.

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