A craven killer’s run from Tennessee cops came to a quick halt after rousting awake two neighbors, who happened to also be Marines.
“He barked up the wrong part of the neighborhood,” Josh Bush, 30, told The Daily Beast of the bizarre, predawn Monday wake-up knock by Ross Anderson. “He definitely wasn’t going to get away with anything here.”
Cleveland, Tennessee, authorities say Anderson gunned down his girlfriend, Rachael Johnson, 30, and her 5-year-old son Colton as well as the family dog on Dec. 7. Anderson had “left the screen door open” and there cops discovered the bodies of all three during a well-visit check on Johnson, who had failed to show up to work.
The couple were an item but not married, a police spokeswoman said, adding that Anderson was not Colton’s father.
Anderson apparently hopped in his pickup truck and skipped town to head due north two hours and landed in Murfreesboro, where he crossed paths with two no-mess Marines.
And before trying in desperation to steal shuteye at Bush’s house, Anderson had tried to tap Monty McQuaid’s house window.
“We think he was posted somewhere and noticed my mom drive by and that she was a female,” McQuaid told The Daily Beast.
His 63-year-old mother, Evelyn McQuaid, had finished her 3 p.m.-to-12:30 a.m. job and turned in about 2:30 a.m.
“After a couple hours in bed I heard a knocking,” she told us.
Her son, who had crashed on the couch to deal with some back aches, said the 4:20 a.m. intrusion sounded more like tapping on the glass: a possible test that sent their poodle Aubry barking up a storm, waking-up his 3-year-old child.
“He was knocking and knocking on the glass to the side of the front door,” he said.
McQuaid assumed it was his mom having a tough time entering the home with the porch light flicked off.
But it wasn’t his mom: it was Anderson clad in camouflage and acting erratic.
“I’m walking to the door and there was this guy standing there with his hands in his pockets,” McQuaid said.
Anderson managed to stutter out some words, McQuaid said.
“I think somebody told me I could stay here tonight. That this could be a safe place,” he allegedly told McQuaid, a Marine who now runs a keysmith business.
“Who told you that?” McQuaid asked, before closing the door. “What startled me was how close he was to the door.”
And the man wasn’t acting right.
“His eyes were buggy and he was talking all this weird shit.”
The door closed, McQuaid watched a defeated Anderson return to his truck and sit there “for a minute” before heading to his next-door neighbor’s house.
That’s when McQuaid told his wife to call 911. At around 4:40 a.m. responding cops had Anderson under arrest, authorities said.
Anderson started by knocking on Josh Bush’s home 20 minutes before that.
“I went to the door and he started walking back to his truck,” Bush said. “He asked me if I was somebody—I can’t remember the name and that he ‘heard it was a safe place’ and it was an emergency.
“He was just out of his mind saying the stars guided him here.”
Unlike the 250-pound McQuaid, Bush “had protection” on him and Anderson quickly retreated once he realized he had stirred up someone who wasn’t afraid or vulnerable.
“I stepped out onto my porch and asked him, ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘What do you need?’ and he tells me, ‘I don’t mean any harm’ and I told him: ‘It’s probably a good idea for you to get out of here,’” Bush remembers telling the alleged double murderer.
And by this point Anderson, who cops later found with two guns in his truck, knew he had to clear out.
“I didn’t even see him right in front of me,” Bush said of the quick chat the pair had. “I just kind of talked to him as he was still in his truck.”
Both men still can’t deny what could have been if either of them weren’t home.
In fact, McQuaid is certain that Anderson had nothing to lose than to off his mom and his 75-year-old dad so that he might “switch out his car.”
“I think he saw my mom driving home and waited two hours for her to fall asleep and didn’t realize anybody else was here,” McQuaid said.
His mother suspects the same.
“I feel like the guy followed me or something as I came home from work,” she said. “But I can’t recall a white truck behind me.”
Fortunately her hulking son was home with her as his house was being built.
“How different things could have been if somebody else answered the door,” he said. “We were less than two feet apart. I’m 250 pounds and a pretty big guy, and I had 6 to 8 inches towering over him.”
But Anderson was likely determining whether to strike or not, McQuaid suspects.
“He had his hands in his pockets and I was not holding a gun,” he said.
Now that he’s been face to face with an alleged killer, both he and his mom are going to protect themselves.
“The whole family is getting guns,” he said. “This changes me. He probably was thinking all he had to do was kill this guy and was deciding it on the spot… I’m glad I intimidated the guy to think twice but I don’t see how this guy comes into our house and it ends peacefully.”
In fact, the brush with a potential killer has changed McQuaid’s whole way of thinking.
“If you knock on my door you will be greeted with a 12 gauge,” McQuaid said, a departure from the family who had all along been gun-free. “I’m not worried about a terrorist coming to hurt me or my family. I’m worried about people who are mentally ill who have carry permits.”
His mother is also hoping to have some form of assurance from would-be intruders.
“I need to get something to defend myself,” Evelyn McQuaid said. “We’re kind of thinking about something but I never shot a gun before.”
Meantime, Anderson copped to the killing while he was being checked out at the Saint Thomas Rutherford Hospital.
“He was talking to a social worker there and apparently told them he killed his wife and son,” said Murfreesboro Police Department spokesman Sgt. Kyle Evans said.
According to the report filed by cops there, Anderson sang about his savage crimes: “Ross Anderson was at the ER and had just admitted to a social worker that he killed his girlfriend, her son, and their dog.”
The woman, who had just earned her master’s degree in science from Western Kentucky State University, was described as “a loving, hard working, single mother with strong faith and a funny sense of humor.”
Her son Colton “was a beautiful little boy who was passionate about trains, trucks and dogs,” according to the summary on the donation page. They are to be buried Friday.
It’s still unclear why Anderson, who faces two counts of first degree murder for what authorities have so far chalked up to a “domestic situation” decided to allegedly kill Johnson, her son, and their pet.