In a strange twist, both Ressler and Douglas conducted extensive interviews with one Monte (some sources write “Montie”) Rissell.
Rissell’s name is not as infamous as Gacy, Bundy, or Dahmer. However, Rissell, a serial rapist-turned-serial killer, provided both Ressler and Douglas with a fountain of information regarding the mindsets of serial offenders, especially sexual predators.
Between 1976 and 1977, Rissell terrorized the young women of Northern Virginia. Handsome and intelligent, Rissell fits the archetype of the truly dangerous hunter—a man dedicated to turning his fantasy world into reality.
Top 1: Highly Intelligent Killer
When Ressler and Douglas began researching Rissell and conducting interviews with him, both were shocked to learn that his IQ had been scored at over 120.
This means that Rissell is one of the more intelligent serial killers in history. Besides this, Douglas notes in Mindhunter that Rissell never showed any remorse for his crimes.
However, both Ressler and Douglas learned a lot about serial killer behavior from Rissell. For instance, both investigators noted that Rissell usually killed after a triggering event or “stressor.”
For example, Rissell raped and murdered Gabor following a bad breakup with his girlfriend. Rissell’s crimes also showed a high level of depersonalization, as the killer began thinking of his victims as something other than fully human.
However, Douglas noted that sometimes, this depersonalization did not work. For instance, Rissell let one of his victims go after she told him that her father had cancer. Rissell must have felt some empathy, considering that his older brother had cancer at the time.
Top 2: Prison And Parole Denial
In 1995, Rissell went up for parole for the first time. Initially, at his 1977 trial, Rissell had been convicted and received four consecutive life sentences for his crimes.
The news of Rissell’s parole hearing kicked off a minor firestorm in Northern Virginia. The families of his victims protested the fact that the coldhearted killer might once again enjoy freedom.
The cries of the protestors proved loud enough that Rissell’s parole was denied in 1995. Since then, Rissell has been put up for parole every year, and every year he has been rejected.
The reasons for refusal include: “History of violence—indicates serious risk to the community”; “Serious nature and circumstances of offense”; “Release at this time would diminish seriousness of crime”; and “Prior failure(s) and/or convictions while under community supervision, therefore, unlikely to comply with conditions of release.”
Top 3: One Day Later
Monte Rissell’s murder spree ended one day after Aletha Byrd’s body was discovered. Rissell, who was already under police surveillance at the time due to his past convictions, was caught in a roadblock.
When police searched Rissell’s car, they found Byrd’s wallet and other personal possessions.
The case against Rissell had been building since at least March 8, 1977. At that time, two police officers—Alexandria police officer Detective John W. Turner and an unnamed Fairfax County investigator—began looking into the similarities between the Miltenberger and Gabor murders.
Turner noticed that both Gabor and Miltenberger had been murdered not far from their cars, and this pattern reappeared following the discovery of Gladys Bradley’s body.
Turner, who had known Rissell since the 1973 rape and robbery case, drew a triangle on a map that connected Gabor’s car, Bradley’s car, and Rissell’s apartment.
Rissell’s fingerprints were later matched to prints found on Miltenberger’s car, which further sealed the killer’s fate. Ultimately, on May 18, 1977, Rissell admitted to kidnapping, raping, and killing all five women. Rissell was just 18 at the time of his confession.
Top 4: The Murder Of Aletha Byrd
Rissell’s last murder occurred sometime between April 10 and May 17, 1977. Byrd was much older than Rissell’s other victims, being 34 (some sources say 35) at the time of her death.
Like Bradley, Byrd was African American, divorced, and a mother. Byrd had a steady job at a Woodward & Lothrop store located in Tysons Corner, Virginia. On April 2, 1977, Byrd began a well-deserved vacation.
Eight days later, Byrd was reported missing to the police. Byrd would not be found again until May 17. On that date, investigators discovered her body in a wooded area in Fairfax County.
She had been stabbed 14 times. Still, like so many of the other victims, Byrd lived at the Holmes Run Park apartment complex.
Top 5: The Murder Of Jeanette McClelland
Jeanette McClelland, 24 years old, was in a good mood in May 1977. She had recently completed craftsman’s training as graphics design proofreader.
This was all part of McClelland’s greater plan of becoming a journalist. Unfortunately, McClelland’s dream ended on May 5, 1977.
On that day, McClelland’s body was found not far from a housing complex along Virginia’s Shirley Highway. McClelland, like Bradley and some of the others, lived at the Holmes Run Park apartment complex on North Morgan Street.
Investigators learned early on that Jeanette’s killer had stabbed her some 24 times. She had also been raped before death.
McClelland was white and unmarried, and for the majority of her life, she had lived with her parents in Springfield, Virginia.
McClelland was last seen alive working at the Bru-El Graphics company in Springfield, where her shift lasted from 7:00 PM to 3:00 AM. Rissell likely saw McClelland near the apartment complex and soon began stalking her.