Montie Ralph Rissell, puffing on a cigarette and pondering his life from his Fairfax County jail cell, said yesterday he murdered five Northern Virginia women after taking the hallucinegenic drug LSD, which not only caused him to kill the women but afterwards wiped out his memory of the slaying.
Rissell made the assertion in an interview with The Washington Post after he was sentenced earlier yesterday to serve his fifth life sentence for killings.The murders occured over a nine-months period beginning Aug. 4, 1976.
The women, who either lived or worked in the western part of Alexandria near Interstate Rts. 395 (Shirley Highway), were eigher stabbed numerous times, drowned or strangled in wooded areas.
Rissell said that only on last May 18 did he remember killing the women when police showed him the wallet, comb and keys of one of the victims taken from his car. Then he said he confessed to the killings.
When he realized he had committed the murders, Rissell said, "I kind of went nuts as far as my own feelings went. I was constantly shaking. I couldn't hardly light a cigarette.
Rissell said when he was killing the women he didn't know what was going through his mind. "I know all the whens and the hows, but not the whys," Rissell said.
Fairfax County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan Jr. discounted Rissell's drug theory explanation of the killings as not believable.
"He was taken great pains to try to give explanations for his behavior that doesn't make it look as bad as it is." Horan said. Horan said if Rissell were under the influence of LSD he would not have been able to remember details of the murders that he gave police and he would have "forgotten what he was truly here for" when he abducted the women.
"I think he gets his kicks from killing," Horan continued. "It's all tied in with a bizarre sexual motivation. It doesn't have anything to do with LSD.
Rissell said that while in prison he will continue writing a book about his life that he started in jail. The book will start from his birth and continue through the five crimes, he said.
"It will be about my life in general. It's been rough, but I've only made it rough by my own actions," Rissell said.
The book will "talk about the system and some of the things it does to a person." Rissell said his experiences in mental institutions and in the courts for juvenile offenses ranging from his convictions charges of disturbing school at age 12 to rape at age 16, made him more frustrated with life and did not help him.
In the jail cubicle where Rissell smoked cigarette after cigarette for more than a hour, he said he is remorseful for the deaths of the women. He also discussed how he has hurt his mother and gave details of his disorganized family life.
He said he remembered at age 10, when his parents divorced each of his parents tried to make him choose which one to love.
While relating his experiences, Rissell sell at times sounded like one of his numerous psychiatrists. He said he has read psychology books to try to figure our why he is and that he would like to study psychology or sociology in prison.
The 18-year old, often laughing and sometimes hanging his head while reminiscing, said he began taking LSd because he was depressed. In his Rissell said he took drugs "to escape self-taught clinical way of speaking, from what I was fearing most - myself."
Rissell said he was most depressed by losing two good friends who moved away last year. He said he then wrecked his car. He said he was bored with school at the time and disliked being in institutions away from his family.