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Ten years ago, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were found inside this car at a Maryland rest stop off Interstate 70. Here, the car is pushed into a facility in Rockville, Md., after being transported from the rest area.
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Date published: 10/25/2012
MYERSVILLE, Md.--The rest stop off Interstate 70 near Myersville, Md., has been renovated since two of this century's most notorious serial killers were captured there 10 years ago Wednesday.
Retired Maryland State Trooper 1st Class D. Wayne Smith said the parking area is bigger and larger buildings have been constructed to replace the former welcome center.
Despite the changes, Smith said he remembers where the Chevrolet Caprice with New Jersey tags was parked. The car was used by Beltway snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, whose shooting spree terrorized the Washington area for 21 days in 2002. During that time, the two killed 10 people and wounded three others.
"It was about right there," Smith said Tuesday as he pointed to the spot where the blue sedan sat on Oct. 24, 2002. "We were going to do whatever we had to do to make sure they weren't going to get out of there."
Smith said he was patrolling in his cruiser near the foot of South Mountain when he received a call at about 1 a.m. The dispatcher said a car matching the description of the one used in the shootings was parked at the rest stop near the I-70 westbound lanes.
"When I was on my way, I was scared to death that they were going to leave," he said.
Smith, who was the first officer to arrive at the scene, said he parked his cruiser in a way that it blocked the ramp to the interstate.
He said he grabbed his shotgun and watched the car until other units arrived about five minutes later.
"It seemed like an hour," Smith said.
Because the windows of the Caprice were tinted, troopers couldn't determine whether someone was in the car or the snipers were watching from a nearby treeline.
Smith said officers at the scene believed they were going to make an assault on the vehicle, but instead were ordered to establish a perimeter and wait for an FBI SWAT team to arrive.
"You realized the gravity of this thing," he said. "You realized that they have killed a lot of folks--indiscriminately. You knew they wouldn't hesitate to kill someone standing between them and freedom."
Smith said he was surprised that no one tried to leave the rest stop until 45 minutes after his arrival.