PHOENIX – Two daughters of the man accused of killing his ex-wife and children on Christmas Day shared their stories of the father they said was abusive before abandoning them in Missouri.
The two women, Ebony Shuniece Ross and Shalonda Ross, said they were able to move past their monstrous experience thanks to counseling and therapy. Though he ran from his past and perhaps suppressed an evil inside him, Anthony Milan Ross's daughters said it was clear his mental and behavioral issues came back to haunt him.
“He kept us a secret — a dark, dirty secret,” Ebony Ross said.
The sisters revealed how their family — a wife and four daughters — was abandoned in Missouri back in 2003. Court documents show their mother, Nicol Ross, filed for divorce in Saint Louis five years later after “her earnest, diligent attempts to locate him” were “unsuccessful.”
Anthony Milan would go on to marry Iris Sutherland in 2009.
Lushanya Echeverria was Sutherland's roommate and friend in Phoenix. The story from Ebony and Shalonda coincides with what Echeverria said Sutherland told her roommate about Milan Ross's hidden past.
“Between four and seven years into their marriage, Iris discovered that Milan had a previous marriage, that he had abandoned, to be with Iris and Iris felt the breach was that she didn't have a choice,” Echeverria said.
Iris got out, divorcing Ross in September with joint custody of their children. A talk with the women who Milan Ross kept a secret may have pushed Iris to fight for sole custody of Nigel and Anora.
Those women were devastated to discover the man who fathered them was accused of murdering Iris, their 11-year-old son, Nigel, and 9-month-old daughter, Anora, on Christmas Day.
“My heart is broken for Ms. Iris's family,” Shalonda said, describing the “punching, choking, slapping,” she said she suffered at the hands of her father.
The eldest, Shalonda, told 12 News Friday, she still had nightmares of the days she was abused and forced to stay home from school until the bruises were gone.
Milan Ross credits his vegan plant-based diet for his dramatic weight-loss, but his second oldest child, Ebony Ross, said her dad's use of food to inspire strangers to live healthier lives was a reminder of the torture they suffered as children.
“He would withhold food from us,” Ebony said, describing a year-long punishment they remembered where the sisters said their bathroom breaks, time outside their room and food were limited.
She said their dad would “blow the smell of the of the chili cheese sauce in our face, we would only get butter and sugar rice for that entire year.”
The women said Friday, silence is what gives abusers power and though they couldn't share their story with Iris, they hoped to reach victims of domestic violence who still had a chance.
“Please don't think it can never be you because you will wake up one day and you'll feel like you're in a nightmare,” Shalonda warned.
Both women said they were more than willing to share their truths on the stand if Anthony Milan Ross went to trial for the Christmas Day murders of his ex-wife Iris, their son Nigel and daughter Anora.