John Allen Muhammad, the D.C. sniper, is scheduled for execution in Virginia tomorrow. He and his partner Lee Boyd Malvo murdered ten people in three weeks. One man they did not murder, but whose death I’ve always associated with their killing spree, is Virginia Trooper Mark Cosslett. In an article for NRO, I called him “the sniper’s last victim.” Later, President Bush quoted my words.
A year or two ago, my family visited Cosslett’s grave at Quantico National Cemetery. I was amused to see a red-and-white poker chip pushed into the dirt, at the base of his tombstone. One of his old buddies must have come by to pay respects as well.
The other article I connect with the sniper is my profile of Minnesota senator Paul Wellstone, who was running for re-election in 2002. I was in Minnesota covering Wellstone and his challenger, Norm Coleman, when the sniper was on the loose. I wondered whether I should have been home instead. The day my article came out in National Review, shortly before the election, Wellstone died in a plane crash.