Image: Lee Boyd Malvo
Mike Morones  /  AP file
Convicted sniper Lee Boyd Malvo enters a courtroom in Spotsylvania, Va., in October 2004.
updated 6/17/2006 1:44:50 PM ET 2006-06-17T17:44:50

When her son was shot and killed in 2002, Sarah Dillon got a button that read “Billy Gene Dillon is a very important person” and vowed to wear it until a suspect was found.

That button was still clasped above her heart Friday after Dillon learned that Washington-area sniper Lee Boyd Malvo reportedly told authorities that he and his one-time mentor were responsible for her son’s death and three other unsolved shootings.

“It’s never really going to be closure to me,” said Dillon, 59, whose son was believed to be killed by a high-powered rifle while doing landscaping work. “It will help me rest knowing who did it.”

The Washington Post, citing two people familiar with the case, reported that Malvo told authorities this spring that months before the October 2002 sniper spree, he and John Allen Muhammad killed two men in California and Texas and wounded two others in Florida and Louisiana.

The newspaper said the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

Billy Gene Dillon was found dead between a fence and a road May 27, 2002, outside a rural Denton County home about 40 miles north of Dallas. He was 37.

Authorities said they met with federal agents in October 2002 to explore whether his death was related to the Washington-area shootings, in which 10 were murdered and three wounded in a three-week period.

Appeared random
It “had all the earmarks of a random shooting” with a high-powered rifle, but tests on bullet fragments were inconclusive, said Denton County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Tom Reedy.

“We haven’t been officially contacted by any law enforcement agency, so at this point in time this is strictly hypothetical,” Reedy said.

Albert Michalczyk, 76, of Oro Valley, Ariz., said the report answered his suspicions about who shot him on a Clearwater, Fla., golf course May 18, 2002.

“My wife immediately thought it was these guys,” said Michalczyk, who was struck in the upper chest by a bullet that police could not recover. “We put two and two together, but we never came up with four. Now, we are coming up with four.”

Clearwater police said they will investigate the report, but spokesman Wayne Shelor noted that the department previously worked with the Washington-area sniper task force in hopes of solving the case.

“We have no evidence at all connecting our case to those,” Shelor said.

Other suspected victims were a man killed in Los Angeles during a robbery and a man who survived a robbery and shooting outside a shopping mall in Hammond, La., near Baton Rouge.

The FBI’s Los Angeles office was researching the claim, spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. City police referred inquiries to the federal agency.

Case may go to prosecutors
Hammond, La., police Lt. Tommy Corkern said the department was in touch Friday with the FBI in New Orleans, trying to verify Malvo’s statements in the shooting of 54-year-old John Gaeta. If that happens, police will take the case to prosecutors.

“We plan to bring charges as soon as we can,” Corkern said.

After Muhammad and Malvo were arrested, authorities in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington state were able to link the pair to shootings in those states.

Both were convicted in 2003 for sniper shootings in Virginia; Muhammad, 45, was sentenced to death and Malvo, 21, was given life in prison.

Last month, a Maryland judge sentenced Muhammad to six life terms after he was convicted of six murders in Montgomery County, where the spree began and ended. Malvo testified against Muhammad and agreed to plead guilty to the same six Maryland murders.

Malvo attorney William Brennan did not return phone calls Friday seeking comment.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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