Currently imprisoned in Pocahontas State Correctional Centre, Virginia, Monte Ralph Rissell, better known as Montie, committed a series of crimes starting from a very young age of 14. His story was portrayed in Netflix’s crime drama Mindhunter by Sam Strike, Season 1, ep 4, 2017. The article talks about the crimes of Montie, the mentality of serial killers, and the situations which make them- according to the investigators.
Days in Virginia from August 1976 to May 1977 were all cold and fearsome as these were the days when Montie gave way to 5 murders.
The onset of crimes-
It all started in 1973 where Monte Ralph Rissell committed his first rape at the young age of 14. Theft and other small crimes became common for him as he grew. He stole $100 worth of items from an apartment by breaking into it. Later he stole $27 from a community pool. A month after this incident, he stole a car. He even threatened a woman in an elevator in an attempt to rob her. Still trespassing, he robbed and raped women living in his complex in North Armistead Street, Alexandria, Virginia. He was even given treatment in a psychiatric hospital in Florida. All the probation and imprisonment didn’t make any difference as he grew to be an expert in breaking himself free from it. He continued to commit five rapes later. His school had already given him a suspension of 5 years. He then dropped out of his school at 17.
In the year 1976 August, Monte Ralph Rissell’s girlfriend broke up with him over a letter. Frustrated, Rissell went to meet his ex, where he saw her with her new boyfriend. He didn’t confront them but drove back home, sulking and drinking beer. At about midnight, he found a 26-year-old prostitute Aura Marina Gabor returning to her apartment in the same complex as Rissell’s. He threatened to rob Gabor with a knife, but she offered to compensate her life by having sex instead. When he saw Gabor enjoying her time by ‘faking orgasms,’ he was enraged even more thus ended her life by strangling her and drowning her in the creek nearby. He didn’t know that Gabor was a prostitute.
March 6, 1977, 22-year old Ursula Miltenberger’s body was found near a housing colony in Burke. Her hand and feet were still bound, and marks and injuries proving that she was stabbed many times and struck with a blunt object to death. The police and the detective of the case found Rissell’s fingerprints on Miltenberger’s car. Rissell said that after abducting Miltenberger, the victim inundated him with many questions; out of aggression, he stabbed her instead of raping her as planned before.
Monte Ralph Rissell’s third victim was a divorced mother and an African American 27-year-old woman Gladys Bradley. She also lived in the same complex as Rissell. With a knife in his hands, Rissell waited outside her apartment, abducted her, and raped her several times before dragging her feet and drowning her in the nearby creek in Alexandria. Her body was found on April 30, 1977, by the police. By now, Rissell had started to enjoy his crimes without having a fear of being caught.
An aspiring journalist, 24-year-old Jeanette McClelland, had her last shift till 3 am at Bru-El Graphics company in Springfield on May 5, 1977. After that, she was being stalked by Rissell. She was returning to her apartment, which was near the complex where Rissell lived. She was then abducted, raped, and stabbed more than 24 times to death ruthlessly. Her body was found in a ditch near Shirley Highway.
Like Bradley, Aletha Bryd was a divorced African American mother, but she was quite older, unlike other victims. The 35-year-old’s body was found in a decomposed manner near the woods of Fairfax County, western Alexandria, on May 17. She was reported to be missing from April 10, 1977. She was stabbed 14 times (some sources say that she was stabbed 100 times).
After a day of finding Bryd’s body, Rissell was caught in a roadblock. The police found many pieces of stuff of Bryd in Rissell’s car. Rissell was a mere 18-years-old when he was found guilty of abducting, raping, and killing; thus, he was given five consecutive life sentences in 1978. Rissell was eligible for parole since 1992, but it was denied as the victims’ families raised an uproar against it in Northern Virginia. From then on, Rissell’s request for parole is denied every year, and now in his 60s, Rissell is confined at Pocahontas State Correctional Center in Virginia.
Some facts about Rissell-
- He had a flawed childhood- Many serial killers have this common issue when they grow up. Monte Ralph Rissell was the youngest in the family, along with two elder siblings. His parents ended their marriage when he was 7-years-old. His mother married again but divorced the second time when Rissell was 12-years-old. He did not have any adult supervision during his teens.
- He would have been a lawyer- Rissell hated his step-dad. Despite that, he said in his interview with the FBI that he might have become a lawyer if he had grown with him. He has an amazing IQ of 120, but his choices made him use it all in the wrong instances.
- He let a victim home alive- The woman told Rissell that her father had cancer and that she had to take care of him. Rissell related her situation as his elder brother also had cancer; thus had empathy for her and let her go.
While analyzing his behavior, the investigators Ressler and John Douglas said that Monte Ralph Rissell showed no signs of remorse for all his crimes, he did not see his victims as humans, he did not personalize with them, he faced a trigger event which initiated the killer within him- his breakup with his girlfriend and his crimes were a result of insane sex drive which a teenager could no longer hold back.
A family plays such an important role in shaping an individual’s future. The environment that he was raised in portrayed women in a dark character. After going through Montie’s case, one can conclude that the picture might have been different if Montie had a different perspective towards women.