Former Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose
John Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo (right)
October will mark 10 years since snipers Lee Boyd Malvo and John Muhammad terrorized the Washington D.C. area.
They killed 10 people and wounded three others before being captured at a Maryland highway rest stop.
On Tuesday, former Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose, who led the investigation, answered a few lingering questions about the hunt for the two men – specifically - a missed opportunity to focus on the car the men were using.
A year after the attacks in 2003, FOX 5 took a look back and aired an investigative story about a tip ignored by the task force on the day five people were killed. It is a tip that may have changed the course of the investigation.
A man told police he saw a Chevy Caprice leave the scene of the last shooting in the District. It is a tip that got lost as police instead went looking for the elusive white box truck.
Just after 9 p.m. on the night of October 3, 2002, Carl Largee was standing outside his restaurant when he heard what sounded like a gunshot and saw a Chevy Caprice suddenly turn on its lights and slowly drive away.
"I was standing right about here exactly, and I saw the lights off, and I noticed the description of the car, and I noticed the reflection of the trees," said Largee. "It was so eerie to see the time it moved off, and I walked off down there, car was gone."
Across the street, 72-year-old Pascal Charlot lay dead - killed by the snipers.
Largee told police what he saw, giving a detailed description of the car. It was even put out by D.C. police in an all-points bulletin.
But the task force ignored it, instead focusing on a white box truck witnesses saw leaving more than one of the shootings earlier that day.
In an interview Tuesday, former Chief Charles Moose explained why.
"I don't know if fell through the cracks is the right term, but it didn't elevate itself," said Moose. "The only thing I can say is there was no intentional disregard – like we don't want anything from that police department or we don't like that police officer. There was no malicious decision not to go with that."
The former chief said the idea a sniper would be firing from a Chevy sedan was at the time incomprehensible.
"I can say that when we finally found the car, I don't think there were very many people, if anyone, that actually envisioned that we would find the car and it would be rigged so they could shoot out of the trunk of that car," Moose said. "So maybe if we had been looking for a car and a box truck, maybe we would have found the car sooner."
Lee Boyd Malvo is serving life in prison while John Muhammad was executed in 2009.
Chief Moose is now retired from law enforcement and living in Florida. He came to town this week to take part in a program called "Witness to History" put on by the National Law Enforcement Museum.