December 2, 2004

Execution Set for Cornell Alum

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Before dawn on Jan. 26, convicted serial killer and rapist Michael Bruce Ross ’81 is scheduled to be executed by lethal injection. His death will mark the first state execution in the Northeast since 1963 and the first in Connecticut since 1960.

The Cornell graduate has been convicted of murdering seven women, ranging from 14 to 26 years of age. He has confessed to eight murders, two of which occurred while he was a student at Cornell. The others took place in Connecticut, where he held jobs ranging from working at an egg farm to selling insurance door-to-door.

Ross was convicted of the Connecticut killings in 1987 and sentenced to death. The state supreme court subsequently overturned the penalty in 1994, only to re-sentence him to death in May 2000.

In 2001, he was sentenced to up to 25 years in prison for one of the killings he committed while a student at Cornell.

Another killing occurred at the University in May ’81, the month Ross graduated. At the time, investigators were unable to determine whether the student’s death was an accident, a homicide or a suicide. Friends of the student, Dzung Ngoc Tu, said that she had been depressed.

Two other rapes at Cornell have been linked to Ross, although no charges have been brought. Ross has confessed to about two dozen rapes.

District Attorney George Dentes has said he sees no real point in prosecuting Ross for Tu’s murder, given his current death sentence.

Ross claims to have been driven to rape and kill by a disorder called “sexual sadism,” a diagnosis debated by psychiatrists but which the jury eventually dismissed.

Ross currently says that he has turned his life around with the help of medication and follows God. For a time, he published a monthly newsletter with his reflections and prayers.

Ross has declined further appeals of his case, though he opposes the death penalty, in order to save the his victims’ families further anguish, he has said.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell (R-Conn.) has said she is in favor of the death penalty and is not expected to give Ross a reprieve.

While studying agricultural economics at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Ross was a member of several organizations, including the Future Farmers of America and the Alpha Zeta fraternity.

The fraternity has said that it revoked his membership in the early ’80s, when Ross was first connected to the murders.

Archived article by Michael Morisy
Sun Senior Writer