July 12, 2013
The execution of Vaughn Ross is scheduled to occur at 6 pm CDT, on July 18, 2013, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas. Forty-one-year-old Vaughn is convicted of murdering 18-year-old Viola Ross McVade (no releation), and 53-year-old Douglas Birdsall, a Texas Tech University Associate Dean of Libraries on January 31, 2001, in Lubbock County, Texas. Vaughn has spent the past 11 years on Texas’ death row.
On January 30, 2001, Vaughn Ross was at his apartment with his girlfriend, Liza McVade, sister to Viola McVade. That night Liza and Viola talked on the phone several times. During one of the conversations, Viola gave the phone to Clarence Garner, Liza’s former boyfriend. Ross became upset, angry, and jealous when he heard Liza talking to Clarence. Shortly thereafter, Liza called Viola to come pick her up.
While Viola was talking to her sister, she was informed that Douglas Birdsall was looking for a young, black, female prostitute. Viola delayed picking up her sister to take Douglas to a girl who would be interested.
Viola took Douglas to his home and attempted to call Liza. Ross answered the phone and told Viola to not call again. He also refused to take Liza and her 4-year-old son home or let her call someone for a ride. According to Liza, Ross then began to put on latex gloves and told her to leave “because if I do something, I don’t want you around.” Liza used a neighbor’s home phone to attempt to get a ride. When she was unsuccessful, she and her son walked to her father’s house. The neighbor reported that 15 to 20 minutes after Liza used his phone, he heard gunshots.
The following day, the bodies of Viola and Douglas were found in Douglas’ car, which was in a ravine. Both had multiple gunshot wounds, including a fatal shot to the head. Following up on reports of gunfire from the night before, the police investigated to determine if there was a connection. In an alley behind Ross’ apartment, glass shards and two pools of blood were found. DNA testing matched one of the pools of blood to Douglas. Inside of Douglas’ car, police found the tip of a latex glove. Blood on the exterior matched Douglas, and DNA found on the inside matched Ross.
Ross was interviewed by the police on January 31 and again on February 2. In the January interview, Ross admitted to arguing with Viola. In the February interview, Ross admitted to threatening Viola. He also confessed to wearing latex gloves that night because he was going to use bleach to mop his kitchen floor.
With Ross’ permission, police searched his apartment, finding two latex gloves and a sweatshirt with a small bloodstain on it, which DNA testing identified as Douglas’ blood. Ross’ DNA was on the inside of the sweatshirt. While in jail talking to his mother, Ross said he “might have” committed the murders.
Ross was convicted and in October 2002, and given the death penalty. During his sentencing hearing, several friends and family members testified on Vaughn Ross’ behalf. The friends testified that Vaughn was a church-going man. While a grad student at Texas Tech, Vaughn would drink socially, however he did not use drugs. Vaughn had one previous encounter with the law in Missouri in 1997, in which he stabbed his girlfriend at the time and stole a motor vehicle. Vaughn had pled guilty and completed his probation and court-mandated anger management class. A police officer who testified against him noted that Vaughn showed no remorse for that crime.
Prior to his arrest and incarceration, Vaughn, originally from Saint Louis, Missouri, did clerical work and worked in architecture design. Vaughn received a full education, graduating from high school. At the time of the murder, Vaughn was enrolled in Texas Tech University to study architecture.
Please pray for peace for the families of Douglas Birdsall and Viola Ross. Please pray for strength for the family of Vaughn Ross. Please pray that Vaughn may come to have peace through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not found one already.