Nearly eight years after the first three victims of New Britain’s serial killer were first located, partial remains have been found of at least four more victims behind a strip mall. As families remember the victims, a task force has already zeroed in on a single suspect who is already behind bars in a Connecticut prison.
If the suspicions of the investigative team are correct, linking all the victims to the one suspect, this would make him the most prolific serial killer since Connecticut’s infamous Michael Ross. Ross was executed in 2005 after being convicted of killing four young ladies and admitting to the murder of four others. Police Chief James Wardwell and Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane said the general public is not in any danger from the suspected serial killer. Wardwell added:
The ongoing investigation supports our strong belief that the person responsible for this is not able to continue this conduct at this time. Based upon the totality of information, we have no reason to believe there is any threat whatsoever to the general public at this time.
Investigators have searched behind 593 Hartford Road for the victims. A resident found partial remains south of Westfarms Mall, near Route 9. In 2010, the body of Diane Cusack was located; three years later the body of Joyvaline Martinez, another victim, was identified. Last year, the body of Mary Jane Menard was identified as the third victim. The Chief Medical Examiner’s Office is still working to identify the remaining victims. Their remains were all skeletal in nature after being hidden for at least a decade.
William Devin Howell is the man suspected of killing at least seven victims and burying their bodies behind the shopping center. The 45-year-old man is already jailed on separate charges of manslaughter which took place in 2003. Howell was sentenced to 15 years at the Garner Correctional Institution for the murder of 33-year-old Nilsa Arizmendi.
According to court documents, the victim’s sister reported her missing on July 31, 2003, a week after she had last seen her. Nilsa’s boyfriend said he had not seen her since July 25 when she got into Howell’s van to get drugs. Her body was never found.
A search of Howell’s van revealed a blood-stained cushion. Not only was Arizmendi’s blood found, but blood of another, unidentified person as well. Videotape found by police contained footage of two other women whose fates and identities are yet unknown. The Cold Case Unit is still seeking to identify the two unidentified women.
Howell was arrested on May 13, 2005, in Hampton, Virginia, and charged as a fugitive for Arizmendi’s murder. On May 16, 2005, Howell was charged and went to trial. In a 2007 deal with prosecutors in New Britain Superior Court under the Alford Doctrine, he plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
The recent discoveries were made with the assistance of a FBI cadaver-sniffing dog. The dog alerted investigators to an area late last month. A ground-penetrating radar was used to locate the victims’ remains. Due to the dense area, an access road was built in order to accommodate the heavy machinery necessary for the slow and methodical excavation. To date, a total of seven discoveries have been made in what might be the most prolific serial killing since the hideous acts of Connecticut’s infamous serial killer Michael Ross.
by Cherese Jackson (Virginia)
Cold Cases – Arrest
Top Image Courtesy of Snohomish County
Inside Image Courtesy of Doug Kerr
Featured Image Courtesy of Florida Fish and Wild Life