Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Bruce Ross: Staring Death in the Face

Michael Ross

Daniel and Patricia Ross' marriage was beset with problems from the beginning. The troubles began while Patricia ("Pat") was in high school and became unexpectedly pregnant, which led to their forced union. According to a 1996 article by Martha Elliott in The Connecticut Law Tribune, "Pat wanted no part of the marriage or of being the wife of a chicken farmer in Brooklyn, Connecticut." Yet, at the time she had little choice.

Michael Ross was born on July 26, 1959. He would be the first of four children born to the hapless couple over the space of five years. Elliott claimed that during Michael's youth there was evidence that his mother, wrought with psychiatric problems, mentally and physically abused him. In fact, Pat purportedly became so psychologically unstable and volatile towards her children that she was admitted to a psychiatric institution on at least two separate occasions and Daniel eventually became the primary guardian of the children. Elliott further suggested that when Michael was eight, there was evidence that his teenaged uncle, who babysat him and formed a close bond with the boy, sexually abused Michael before committing suicide at the age of 14.

Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Cornell University's College of
Agriculture and Life Sciences

Despite the trauma Michael endured, he managed to excel in school. He had a special interest in animal science and dreamed of one day owning his own farm. In 1977, after graduating from Killingly High School, Michael went on to study agricultural economics at Cornell University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

While at school, Michael was socially active and joined several organizations, including the Alpha Zeta fraternity and the Future Farmers of America, Katherine Davis reported in the Cornell Daily Sun in October 2000. Moreover, he became involved in several relationships with some beautiful young co-eds, one to which he became engaged. However, Elliott claimed that the relationships always ended in failure and Michael's "dream of the perfect family began to be crowded by other fantasies — disturbing, violent, sexual fantasies."

It didn't take long for his fantasies to spiral out of control. During his second year at school Michael started to stalk young women. Eventually his violent sexual urges took on a new dimension when he began raping many of the women he stalked. Amazingly, he evaded capture for a couple years. However, in September 1981 shortly after his graduation he finally landed himself in jail for assaulting a young teenaged girl.

At the time of the incident, Michael was working as a management trainee for a Cargill, Inc. in North Carolina, Rebecca James reported in a Syracuse online article. During a business trip to Illinois, he kidnapped a 16-year-old girl, dragged her into the woods and gagged her before being interrupted by the police in mid-activity. Michael was arrested for unlawfully restraining the girl, was fined $500 and put on probation.

The police had no idea that the man they arrested and subsequently let go was responsible for not only assault but something much more sinister. That May, the body of Dzung Ngoc Tu, 25, was discovered in Fall Creek located at the bottom of a gorge in Ithaca, New York. Initially police believed that she committed suicide. Eventually, they realized that Dzung was actually the victim of a brutal rape and murder. Michael's violent fantasies had taken a deadly toll and Dzung would be considered his first known murder victim.