Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Bruce Ross: Staring Death in the Face

A Deadly Year

Robin Stravinsky, victim
Robin Stravinsky, victim

In August 1982, Michael finally appeared in an Ohio court for assaulting the pregnant policewoman. During the proceedings, he plead guilty to the charges, was fined $1,000 and served four months in jail before being let out on probation. According to James, "the probation report suggested he make better use of his free time, perhaps by taking classes, starting a jogging program or learning to fly," hoping the activities might discourage his violent behavior. The recommendation was shocking and pointless. It isn't difficult to understand that such activity would do little if nothing to deter a violent serial rapist.

April Brunais, victim
April Brunais, victim

Once out on probation, Michael went back to Connecticut and began working as a door-to-door insurance salesman. He was able to secure the job after lying about his criminal record during the application process.  It is likely that he spotted his next victim while canvassing potential clients.

On November 19, 1983, Robin Stavinsky, 19, disappeared while hitchhiking in Norwich, Connecticut. Newton reported that joggers found her remains a week later near a local hospital. She had been raped and strangled.

At the time of the discovery, investigators working the case were able to link Stavinsky's murder with that of Tammy Williams and Deborah Taylor's because of the marked similarities between the cases. Most of the victims were of similar stature, had been sodomized, found face down and strangled. It was becoming increasingly clear to the police that a serial murderer was in their midst, yet at the time they had few clues as to the identity of the killer. Working with the evidence taken from the crime scenes, they worked frantically to put a face to the serial murderer.

Leslie Shelley, victim
Leslie Shelley, victim

Then on Easter Sunday 1984, Michael committed his first double murder. Fourteen-year old friends April Brunais and Leslie Shelley from Griswold, Connecticut were walking home from the movies on route to a friend's house when Michel kidnapped them. When the girls' bodies were later found it was clear that they both had been brutally raped and murdered in a similar manner as Michael's previous victims.

Two months later, Michael claimed his eighth murder victim. On June 13, 1984, 17-year-old Lisbon, Connecticut resident Wendy Baribeault was abducted in broad light. Witnesses claimed that they last saw Wendy alive walking down State Highway 12 allegedly on her way to a convenience store. Her remains were found several days later.

Like Michael's other victims, Wendy had been raped and strangled. However, unlike the previous murder cases, there were witnesses who said they "noticed a thin white man with glasses driving a blue, late-model Toyota" following her the day she disappeared, James reported. It turned out to be the break investigators were hoping for.

 

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