Friday, September 25, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: Howell’s Horrors

"Police say man charged in six killings called van ‘murder mobile’" by Dave Collins Associated Press  September 19, 2015

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — An East Coast drifter accused of being a serial killer told fellow prison inmates that he killed seven people in Connecticut in 2003, including one victim whose body he kept for two weeks in a van he called the ‘‘murder mobile,’’ according to an arrest warrant released Friday.

William Devin Howell, a 45-year-old native of Hampton, Va., also told a cellmate that ‘‘there was a monster inside of him that just came out’’ and described himself as a ‘‘sick ripper,’’ according to the warrant. He said if he was not caught, he was going to go cross-country and kill others, the document said.

The document was released after Howell was arraigned on multiple murder charges related to six of the killings in New Britain Superior Court. Many relatives of the victims attended the brief proceeding and several cried after Howell was brought into the courtroom in an orange prison jumpsuit, shackles on his arms and legs.

A judge set bail at $10 million for the nine murder charges, but Howell is already serving a 15-year sentence for manslaughter for killing one of the seven victims. He did speak or enter any pleas. The case was continued to Oct. 28.

The bodies of all seven victims were found in a wooded area behind a strip mall in New Britain, about 12 miles southwest of Hartford. Three bodies were found in 2007 and the remaining victims’ remains were found in April.

‘‘Let’s remember each of these victims and their families,’’ New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell said after the court hearing. ‘‘Each victim was loved and cherished. They were people from our communities and in no way deserved the violence that ended their lives.’’

If convicted of the killings, Howell would be one of the most prolific serial killers in Connecticut history.

Police said in the arrest warrant that Howell sexually assaulted three of the women he killed. The three women’s names were not disclosed in the warrant, which provides the first details of the killings that have been released to the public.

Howell told a cellmate that the first person he killed was a woman whom he said he raped in his van, the warrant said. The cellmate, who described his conversations with Howell to authorities, said Howell told him he strangled the woman, but ‘‘she wouldn’t die,’’ according to the warrant. So he hit her in the head with a hammer, the warrant said.

Howell told the inmate that he kept the woman’s body wrapped up in his van because it was too cold outside to bury her.

He also said he cut off the tips of her fingers and dismantled her bottom jaw, and later disposed of the body parts in Virginia, according to the warrant.

Howell told his cellmate that he slept next to the woman’s body in his van, calling her his ‘‘baby,’’ the warrant said.

All seven victims disappeared in 2003, when Howell was mowing lawns and working other odd jobs in central Connecticut.

The victims were identified as Diane Cusack, 53, of New Britain; Joyvaline Martinez, 24, of East Hartford; Mary Jane Menard, 40, of New Britain; Melanie Ruth Camilini, 29, of Seymour; Marilyn Gonzalez, 26, of Waterbury; Danny Lee Whistnant, 44, of New Britain; and Nilsa Arizmendi, 33, of Wethersfield.

Howell pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Arizmendi’s death in 2005 and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Authorities have said drug use was a main connection among most of the victims.

Howell called the burial site his ‘‘garden’’ and said all the victims should have known they were going to die because of the lifestyle they were living, the warrant said.