Deadly American Beauty – Book Review
by: John Glatt
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Copyright: 2004, ISBN: 0312984197
Cover: Photo AP/Wide World Photos
reviewed by: Lynard Barnes. November 28, 2004
Summary: Not Much Depth, Not Much of Interest.
Kristin Rossum was convicted of killing her husband by poisoning him with fentanyl. The rationale for the murder was Rossum’s addiction to methamphetamine. It was the rationale but not the reason. At the time, November 6, 2000, she was involved in an extramarital affair with her boss at the San Diego Medical Examiner’s Office and she wanted out of the marriage to husband, Greg De Villers.
There is nothing new gained from reading John Glatt’s book. His emphasis upon Rossum’s desire to please her parents on the one hand and her own assessment that she was a failure comes through loud and clear. The emphasis is legitimate, though it appears that the focus of Rossum’s life leapt past issues of mere self-esteem to the more fundamental issues of character and integrity. She developed neither. At round 14, she tried crystal methamphetamine. She became addicted. Any farther character development ceased from that point on.
Unlike Jerry Bledsoe’s DEATH SENTENCE (reviewed August 2003), which is an excellent recounting of the life of another woman, Velma Barfield, who murdered by poison, John Glatt’s work is confined to the narrow scope of circumstances leading up to the murder to Rossum’s husband. But center-stage, indeed the stage upon which those circumstances played out was the methamphetamine addiction. Like Velma Barfield’s addiction to a host of proscription drugs, Rossum’s addition to methamphetamine was undoubtedly the foundation upon which her decision to kill her husband was based. Methamphetamine erased from her any constraints by which to make rationale, albeit self-centered and self-delusional decisions. Without the methamphetamine re-wiring the circuits of her brain, Rossum would have simply been one of those unpleasant, superficial people “in search of themselves”. The methamphetamine allowed her to believe she had found herself moment by moment.
The portrait Glatt draws of Rossum’s husband, Greg De Villers, is sketchy. De Villers apparently rescued Rossum from one of her stints of methamphetamine immersions some five years before they got married. The relationship continued from that point on. He may or may not have become possessive of her by the time they married in June 1999. Rossum is reported to have testified that the way you get rid of a husband is that you leave him, you do not commit murder. Her actions prior to the murder indicate that she was in fact planning to leave her husband. Then the murder occurred.
This is one of those rare instances in which the book would have been much more interesting if the life of the victim were chronicled rather than that of the murderer. The fact that Greg De Villers was blind to the desperation and eventual murderous intent of the woman he said he loved speaks volumes about him, not her. But he’s dead and she’s an American beauty. We can live with that. No choice really.