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They were aware of the media coverage and tailored some of their actions accordingly, Malvo said. The white van and white box truck craze led Malvo to call shots when there were white vans and trucks nearby, knowing the vehicles would draw attention away from them.
He said the killings became remarkably routine. The victims weren’t victims - they were targets, he said.
"There is no feeling," Malvo said. "At that point in time, I had been desensitized. I’d been killing people for months, if not a whole year, day in and day out. In the midst of the task, there is no feeling. . . . It got to a point where I’d get in a zone. There was nothing else but whoever is before me, and anything that comes between me and, as you would say, the target, I’m either going to destroy, or if it’s too big, find a way around it. Nothing is going to stop me but death to get that done.
"I was able to tap into a place that if there was a soul there it was behind layers and layers and layers of darkness."
But deep down, Malvo said, there were still elements of his former self. He said there were several times when he thought about killing himself and once when he pulled a gun on Muhammad. He also said there was one time he drew a line: Muhammad told him during the District of Columbia shootings that Malvo had to kill a pregnant woman, and Malvo couldn’t bring himself to do it when the opportunity presented itself.
After their arrest, Malvo took the blame for all the shootings in early interviews with police, at times bragging about certain shots and killings. Now, he says, those interviews were planned attempts to deflect responsibility from Muhammad.
"Once they told me I was in Virginia ⅛where the death penalty is more prevalent⅜, I did everything I thought I could do to save his life," Malvo said. "It was just a mixture of half-truths, details that only I or the killer would know, because I was there. What’s crazy is this entire process. I’m concerned for him, and he doesn’t give a rat’s a-- whether I live or die."
Malvo said the most enduring memory about the shootings for him, next to Ted Franklin’s eyes, is something he realized when he returned to Virginia after testifying against Muhammad in Maryland. He saw an educational television show in which Stanton Samenow - a clinical psychologist who testified as an expert against Malvo at trial - explained that a criminal’s actions do not just devastate a single family but also their neighbors, their community, anyone the victim knew. A large and expanding circle of people.
"Once I began to list the victims for every single possible crime that I could think of, the number, quickly, it was like multiplying by seven. It just exponentially grew," Malvo said. "The enormity of it. When you’re in the midst of doing the shooting, that was my sole focus. I didn’t give it thought. . . . You never get a grasp on what exactly you actually did and what the ramifications were for others."
And Malvo is outwardly apologetic to his victims and their families, but he said there’s no way to express that. When asked what he would say directly to them, he implored people to forget about him.
"We can never change what happened," Malvo said. "There’s nothing that I can say except don’t allow me and my actions to continue to victimize you for the rest of your life. It may sound cold, but it’s not. It’s the only sound thing I can offer. You and you alone have the power to control that. And, you take the power away from this other person, this monster, and you take control.
". . . Don’t allow myself or Muhammad to continue to make you a victim for the rest of your life," Malvo said. "It isn’t worth it."
Sari Horwitz contributed to this report.
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