Michael Ross is a serial killer
and sexual sadist
who raped and murdered eight women in Connecticut
and New York
during the early 1980s. He now sits on Connecticut's death row
. Ross, a graduate of Cornell University
, claims that his paraphiliac
mental disorder drove him to these intense acts of sexual violence
This bit from Connecticut's case against Ross sums up his Connecticut murders:
[Warning:Noders who have been here a while might be tempted to laugh at the name of the first victim mentioned]:
"The jury could reasonably have found the following facts. On June 13, 1984, the defendant accosted seventeen-year-old Wendy B. as she was walking along Route 12 in Lisbon. After a short conversation, he pulled Wendy B. over a stone wall, forcing her to go with him into a wooded area that led to an open field. There he sexually assaulted her, forced her to turn over on her stomach, and then strangled her.
On Thanksgiving Day, 1983, the defendant accosted nineteen-year-old Robyn S. on the grounds of Uncas on Thames State Hospital in Norwich. He forcefully pulled Robyn S. into a wooded area and ordered her to remove her clothing. He then sexually assaulted her and, after ordering her to turn over on her stomach, strangled her. Before leaving, he covered her body with leaves.
On Easter Sunday, 1984, the defendant picked up fourteen-year-old April B. and fourteen-year-old Leslie S., who were hitchhiking to Jewett City on Route 138. Once the girls had entered his car, he drove them easterly on Route 165 and, over their protests, past their intended destination. When April B. tried to force the defendant to stop the car by threatening him with a knife, he disarmed her and continued to transport the girls against their will, through eastern Connecticut, to Beach Pond in Rhode Island. At Beach Pond, he parked his car and bound both girls hand and foot. He then untied April B.'s feet and forced her to walk a short distance from his car, where he assaulted her sexually, turned her over on her stomach and strangled her. Returning to the car, the defendant killed Leslie S. without sexually assaulting her. He then placed the bodies of both girls in his car and drove back to Preston, Connecticut, where he deposited their bodies in a culvert.
At his trial, the defendant did not deny having committed the sexual assaults, the kidnappings, and the murders described above. His defense was insanity, a defense that the jury rejected...."
Since conviction, Ross has flip-flopped between wanting to be put to death and wanting to live, and was on suicide watch for a time. Currently, he is in the unsavory position of being on death row while wanting to live. If he hadn't lobbied so hard for death in the past, he probably would have been instead sentenced to life behind bars.
Ross is the most terrifying kind of killer. The brutality of his crimes is unmistakable, and he does not deny committing them. In fact, he is quite aware of what he has done and expresses real sorrow for his crimes. In researching Ross, I discovered a very intelligent and well-spoken individual. He is a devout Christian, and his eloquence in describing his plight on death row puts Mumia Abu-Jamal to shame. Yet, he is also a real-life monster, capable of acts of extreme violence which could not be committed by any sane man.
Ross's case blurs the line of responsiblity for one's actions. Every psychologist who has examined him, including the prosecution's own doctors, has found that Ross suffers from severe sexual sadism, a real mental disorder. Equally clear is that Ross would not have committed his brutal crimes without his ailment. However, on the surface, Ross is a man who knows the difference between right and wrong, a man who does have control over his actions. The dilemma is that Ross is driven to rape and kill like a drug addict is driven to a fix. How many of us would be able to control our urges if we were in Ross's place? At what price would this control come? Is the amount of will needed to suppress these urges above what we can reasonably expect from someone with Ross's disorder? There are no good answers to these questions; the system is not designed for people like Ross. His kind end up in asylums and on death rows around the country, caged animals halfway between beast and man, where they can be locked away and forgotten until they pass away.
But we don't forget. The Bundys, the Mansons, the Dahmers of the world - these people fascinate us, just as any other "freak" does. The social and legal structures of the world were created on the assumption that human minds work similarly, that we all have analogous (or at least remotely alike) concepts of right and wrong. These people operate on a completely different level, and the bottom line is that there is no place for them, except banished from normal society.
I sense that Ross would like to impart some wisdom to the world before he is cast off of it; he writes to the outside world fairly often. At the very least, he wants others to understand what it is like to be a monster. I've decided to node some of Ross's writings. I can't expect you to respect the man (I don't), but get over the fact that he's a murderer and try to take his words seriously. Whatever your feelings on the death penalty, his words will hopefully give you another perspective on the American legal system and what it means to a serial killer.