'Three Weeks In October'

Former Montgomery County (Md.) Chief of Police Charles Moose reflects on his career and the Washington-area sniper investigation during an interview about his new book, "Three Weeks in October," Saturday, Sept. 13
It's been nearly a year since the suburbs around Washington, D.C. were terrorized by weeks of sniper attacks that left 10 people dead.

In charge of the investigation task force, which ultimately caught the men thought to be responsible for the shootings, was Montgomery County, Md. police chief Charles A. Moose.

He has just completed a book about the investigation called, "Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the Serial Sniper."

In a dispute with the county ethics commission over his desire to write this for-profit book, Moose chose to leave the police force in June. County rules state that an official may not profit from anything related to his position.

Excerpts from the former chief's book will be published Friday in People magazine. The book will be in stores next Monday, with a list price of $23.95.

"It was a good thing for me it was coming to an end," Moose wrote of the day suspects John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo were arrested, according to an advance copy of the People article. "But the reality for me was how much I wish I could have ended it before all those victims had to die."

Muhammad, 42, and Malvo, 18, have been charged with 13 shootings, including 10 deaths, in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. They are also suspected in or charged with shootings in Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana and Washington state.

Publisher E.P. Dutton reportedly paid Moose a $170,000 advance for the 336-page account of his leadership on the sniper task force. It was co-written by Charles Fleming.

Moose signed a contract with Dutton in January. He clashed with the county's ethics commission over the project and eventually resigned, concluding he could not write the book and keep his job.

The commission worried he would unfairly profit from his job and reveal confidential information before Muhammad and Malvo go on trial this fall. Moose and the panel eventually reached a deal this summer that included an agreement from Moose not to give away any investigative secrets.

But prosecutors are concerned publicity surrounding the book could taint the prospective jurors.

Robert F. Horan, prosecutor for Fairfax County, Va., said Moose did not give him an advance copy. Horan is overseeing the prosecution of Malvo.

"If it gets into the evidence - what they did, how they did it - then you get into an area where the argument can be made that anybody who read the book" will be unfairly prejudiced, Horan said last Thursday.

"That's the only reason I would have liked to get a copy before it comes out. Now I guess we'll have to wait until Monday and see what it says."

Moose said he considered letting prosecutors review his work, but once the ethics dispute was over, he decided against doing so because of the short time before the book's release and contractual issues with his publisher.

"I never said specifically that I would give Robert Horan one," he said last Thursday.

Many of the excerpts in People deal with Moose's emotions during the hunt rather than details of the investigation.

When six people were shot over two days starting Oct. 2, Moose wrote that he had to appear confident to the officers working under him, even though "privately I had doubts about how all this was going to play out."

The shooting Oct. 7 of a 13-year-old boy at a school caused Moose to let slip a rare bit of public emotion, with "one fat tear" rolling down his cheek as he briefed the media. Moose wrote that the shooting of the boy was a message of contempt for the police from the sniper.

"We had been saying the children were safe. This shooting was a f--- you to that," Moose writes.

He writes his personal life disappeared, but he did not suffer sleepless nights. He fretted over his job, though, worrying that people would start saying "dump Chief Moose," as the shootings mounted. And he became enraged when a demand for $10 million was left in a note at a Virginia shooting scene.

When Malvo and Muhammad were arrested, Moose met with about 50 relatives of the victims and briefed them on what investigators knew.

"I said I was sorry that this ever happened, sorry that we were not able to stop it sooner," he wrote. "It was very emotional for me."