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Son of Infamous 'D.C. Sniper' John Allen Muhammad Lives in Dad's Shadow

Marked by Notorious Fathers' Crimes, Sons Overcome Self-Hatred, Psychological Hurdles

Childhood Marked by Father's Absence

Aside from a summer Williams spent with Muhammad as a boy, he says he barely knew his father. All he has now are three tokens from his father: two photos taken when Williams was a baby, and a simple white box with his father's name on it.

"I haven't had time to actually get an urn yet, but my father's ashes sit in my house," Williams said.

No matter how hard he's tried to distance himself from his father's actions, Williams won't deny that he wishes he had a chance to know his dad.

"He couldn't deny his history if he wanted to. So he's engaged it. And he's figured out how to put some kind of container around it, like a radioactive and very toxic part of his life, but something that he can put on a shelf, and deal with it on terms of a history he's comfortable with," Welner said. "The healthiest thing one can do under the circumstances of a notorious father who has done unthinkable things is to acknowledge in children, this is a part of us, but you're different."

Son of Murderous Cult Leader: 'I Hated My Father'

Stephan Jones, the son of cult leader Jim Jones, who, in 1978, was responsible for one of history's largest mass suicides in Jonestown, Guyana, has struggled to come to terms with his roots.

"I hated my father when he was alive and for years after his death. I know now that a lot of that was to keep from having to face my own shame and my own self-hatred," Jones, 50, said.

Jim Jones died the day of the massacre along with 900 temple members, but his teenage son Stephan -- who was in Guyana and desperately wanted to escape his father's cult -- was away from the compound at the time.

"At that time, I felt horrible that I was not there when my loved ones needed me most," he said.

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