Did the Beltway Snipers Strike in Louisiana?

This is a partial transcript from On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, October 31, 2002. Click here to order the entire transcript of the show.

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GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: This is a FOX News alert: Cops link the sniper suspects to yet another murder.

Authorities in Baton Rouge announce that ballistic tests link the rifle used in the Beltway murders to an unsolved shooting there. That puts the gun in four states and counting. Hong Ballenger was fatally shot by the snipers' gun on September 23 just days before the Beltway shooting spree.

I spoke to Hong's husband, James Ballenger, and asked him what he thought when he found out his wife's murder was linked to the Beltway sniper.


JAMES BALLENGER, HUSBAND OF BATON ROUGE SNIPER VICTIM: I knew that from the first get-go, and I told the police about it and I told Crimestoppers about it, and they said, No, it didn't fit the M.O. I just had a feeling that -- you know -- God touched my heart and I knew about it.

And then, when it was broadcast today and the police called me earlier and said, "Don't say nothing," but they had ballistics tests, proved where it came from, and they wanted me to wait a couple hours before I talked to the media, I said, "Well, I knew it was going to be that way because God touched my heart and let me know it."

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Ballenger, why were you so far ahead of the police? Why in your heart and mind did you think this was connected to the Washington, D.C., area sniper?

BALLENGER: Because God put it on my heart. I have faith. My wife helped me become a good Christian. I'm a born-again Christian and she's taught me a lot and my faith has grown strong enough to trust in what the Lord tells me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Take me back, sir. What did happen to your wife the night she was murdered?

BALLENGER: She was shot in the back of the head and robbed. At close range.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did anyone see anyone shoot her?

BALLENGER: Three witnesses saw it and the description they had fit the young man that was on the news.

VAN SUSTEREN: Was there any mention of an automobile?

BALLENGER: No, ma'am.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did the police ever identify how far away she was shot, whether it was like many of the shootings in the area in Washington, D.C., -- from quite a distance? Did that happen with your wife?

BALLENGER: It was close range, they said. She was shot in the back of the head at close range.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Ballenger, why do you think that the police were so slow to finally come around to even investigate whether this might be connected with the sniper in the Washington, D.C., area?

BALLENGER: They said they had other leads, and they said it didn't fit their M.O. that they had for the killings going on here in Baton Rouge.

So, when they didn't go along with it and the Crimestoppers didn't go along with it, I called the FBI, and the FBI said they would look into it and by Friday I would know something.

Well, today is Thursday, the day before they told me I would.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Ballenger, I mean, this is the unthinkable. I can't even begin to imagine the pain that you have losing a spouse in such a cold, cruel way. Does it make it any better or is it any easier now that at least it seems to be moving in the direction of being solved?

BALLENGER: Well, I'm glad they're doing what they're supposed to do right now, and I'm just glad they've got them behind bars and that nobody else is going to be killed either.

VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Ballenger, in the event that they are tried in your community -- and I would expect that there a lot of people that would do -- a lot of prosecutors are lining up to try these two men in different jurisdictions, but, in the event they're tried down in Louisiana for killing your wife and for murdering her and they're found guilty, what do you think to be the just punishment?

BALLENGER: Life in prison for both of them.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you opposed to the death penalty?

BALLENGER: Yes, ma'am. I'll tell you, because, if they kill them, the death penalty, that's done. It's over with. If they live in prison, they're going to have to think about what they've done. That gives them a chance to be talked to by chaplains and other people that visit the prison, ministries, and stuff like that, and maybe they'll have a chance to repent of what they did and have a chance to go to heaven.

Like Jesus taught us, we have to forgive everybody for what they do. So I forgive them for what they did. I hate the crime they did, but I have to stand firm on what my belief is, and killing them is not going to do anything. But, if they're in prison where they've got a chance to learn about Jesus, maybe accept him as their lord and savior, maybe they might have a chance to go to heaven anyway.


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