Tucson, Arizona -- Cheryll Witz wrote convicted Washington-area sniper Lee Boyd Malvo a letter in June, imploring him to talk to Arizona detectives about her father's 2002 death. She got her wish. Police said Friday that Malvo tearfully confessed that he and John Allen Muhammad were responsible for killing 60-year-old Jerry Taylor on a golf course in Tucson.
Witz said she long suspected the pair were responsible, though they had never been conclusively linked to the death.
With her approval, Tucson police interviewed Malvo for two hours Thursday in Maryland after granting him immunity from prosecution, Capt. Bill Richards said. Malvo said the shooting took place while he and Muhammad were in the area visiting Muhammad's older sister, Richards said.
Malvo said he was sorry for Taylor's family, said Detective Benjamin Jimenez. "He welled up a few times in tears during the interview," he said.
Witz said she had written Malvo a five-page letter after he pleaded guilty to six sniper killings, appealing to him to help her gain closure.
"It has been four years now, and my family ... would love to have some closure," she wrote. "Lee, I am begging you... Please Lee, give myself and my family the closure that we need to heal, and to move on with our lives. ... You will be able to start our healing process, and I will be ever so greatful (sic) to you."
Witz, without elaborating, said at a news conference Friday that she knew Malvo read her letter and was remorseful.
She said she intends to write him another letter to thank him for confessing and that she would like to meet him in person.
"I needed to know," she said. "I really need to forgive him. I do believe that he was brainwashed and I do truly believe that he was made to kill my father."
Malvo has previously testified that Muhammad trained him to shoot and lured him into a plot to kill people.
As for Muhammad, Witz said: "He's a monster, and he set out intentionally to kill people. He knew exactly what he was doing. I would love to see him prosecuted."
Richards said the police investigation, which long ago had hit a dead end, would continue based on new information Malvo provided, with the intent of prosecuting Muhammad.
Richards said Malvo agreed to testify against Muhammad if Arizona authorities bring charges.
Deputy County Attorney David Berkman said his office has not decided whether to prosecute Muhammad.
Tucson police had long sought to speak with Malvo about the March 19, 2002, death of Taylor, who died from a single gunshot fired from long range as he practiced chip shots at the golf course.
Police Chief Richard Miranda said detectives participating in the Washington-area sniper investigation had noticed similarities between those cases and Taylor's.
Jimenez said Malvo lay in the bushes and shot Taylor as he retrieved a golf ball. According to Malvo, the two decided to shoot someone on the golf course after conducting surveillance in the desert, Jimenez said.
After Malvo's arrest at a Maryland highway rest stop, he told authorities that he had shot a senator on a golf course in Arizona. Taylor was not a senator.
Muhammad and Malvo were arrested in 10 sniper killings and three woundings in the Washington, D.C., area during three weeks in October 2002. They were accused of roaming the area with a Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle that they fired from the trunk of a Chevrolet Caprice at random victims.
Malvo is serving a life term in Virginia. He is in Maryland awaiting sentencing on Nov. 9 for six sniper killings in Montgomery County. Muhammad has already been sent back to Virginia, where he is on death row.
The two are suspects in earlier shootings in 2002 in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland and Washington state, and news reports have linked them to shootings in Florida, Texas and California.
Both were convicted of separate Virginia killings in 2003. Muhammad was sentenced to death, while Malvo was given a life term. Malvo, 17 at the time of the killings, did not qualify for the death penalty after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down capital punishment for minors.