Egg Man serial killer suffered Death Row syndrome before touch-and-go execution

A twisted serial killer was executed on this day 18 years ago but almost wasn't due to a little-known condition called Death Row syndrome.

Michael Bruce Ross, known as 'The Egg Man', grew up on his family's chicken farm in Connecticut, US.

His reign of terror lasted from 1981 to 1984, during which time he murdered eight girls and women aged between 14 and 25 in Connecticut and New York State.

READ MORE: 'Killer Clown' John Wayne Gacy's monster final meal and chilling last three words

He was also alleged to have raped but not killed two other women, Vivian Dobson and Candace Ferris.

Ross would kidnap his victims and take them to remote wooded areas before assaulting them. He'd then make them turn face-down before strangling them.

When he was eventually snared he confessed to all eight murders, although he was only convicted of four. In July 1987 he was sentenced to death.

Ross became a devout Catholic after his arrest and fought against his death sentence until the last year of his life.

Then, he waived his right to appeal and was reportedly keen to see it carried out as to not cause the victims' families any more harm.

He was meant to be put to death by lethal injection in January 2005 but stays of execution were granted given concerns he was not mentally competent to waive that right.

Given his sudden change of heart after 17 years of campaigning, his lawyer claimed Ross was suffering from Death Row syndrome.

The psychological phenomenon sees prisoners on Death Row, who often spend long periods of time in isolation, become mentally unhinged.

Ross attempted to take his own life three times on Death Row and wrote about the impact of sitting alone and contemplating his awful crimes 23 hours a day.

He even admitted he was seeking execution because of "a desire to end my own pain".

"The conditions of confinement are so oppressive, the helplessness endured in the rollercoaster of hope and despair so wrenching and exhausting, that ultimately the inmate can no longer bear it, and then it is only in dropping his appeals that he has any sense of control over his fate," Dr Stuart Grassian wrote when describing the condition.

Ultimately, the courts decided Ross was competent and he was put to death on May 13, 2005.

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