Monday, August 29, 2016

The Man In The Monster by Martha Elliott

In the early 1980's, Michael Ross stalked, raped and killed eight women in Connecticut.  In 2005, he was put to death by lethal injection, the last person to be executed in that state.  In between, for the last ten years of his life, journalist Martha Elliott interviewed him through weekly phone calls, letters and in person to determine what made this man do these horrible acts.

Ross was an intelligent person who graduated college and seemed ready to have a successful career.  Instead, his compulsions led him to stalk and kill women as his personal life imploded.  His childhood was a bleak one, with a mother who was a monster herself and emotionally abused him.  It left him unable to have a sustaining personal relationship and his mental illness led him into a compulsion to control and punish women he didn't know.

Ross was in jail for more than two decades.  He asked for the death penalty to be carried out, and Elliott was curious why he would do that.  Once in prison, he had received medication that controlled his mental compulsions and he felt free from the monster that he felt co-inhabited his body with the 'true' Michael.  He felt that his death was the only thing he could offer the families of his victims, but Elliott wondered if it also wasn't a suicide using the state as a vehicle.   She interviewed not only Ross but those victim families who would talk to her.  Over the years she found herself in a friendship with this tormented man who had brought pain to everyone he knew.

Ross is a journalist who worked on newspapers for many years.  She also ran a newspaper and taught at both the university and high school level.  She was curious as to what made a man into someone who could do such horrible things and after years of work, discovered the man in the monster.  This book is recommended for readers of true crime and those interested in the inner workings of the mind.

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