More than 940 people have been executed since the United States reinstated capital punishment in 1976. Not one was in New England. That is scheduled to change Jan. 26, the date set by Connecticut Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford for the execution of serial killer Michael Ross, reports the Associated Press. Ross admits killing eight women in eastern Connecticut and New York in the early 1980s, and raping most of his victims. He has been in prison for 20 years – 17 on Connecticut’s death row – for four of those murders.
After two sentencing hearings and numerous appeals, including two decided by the state Supreme Court, Ross has decided not to pursue any others. He said he wants to avoid inflicting more pain on his victims’ families. Of the six New England states, only Connecticut and New Hampshire have the death penalty. Connecticut’s last execution was in 1960. New Hampshire has nobody on death row and has not executed anyone since 1939. Rhode Island has not put anyone to death since 1845; in Maine, 1885; in Massachusetts, 1947, and Vermont, 1954. Death penalty opponents worry the Ross execution will start a domino effect in the region.