NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (AP) — An East Coast drifter already behind bars for killing one woman will be charged Friday with the serial slayings of six other people, whose bodies were found behind a strip mall, police said.
William Devin Howell, 45, who grew up in Hampton, Virginia, will be charged with multiple counts of capital felony, murder and felony murder at a 2 p.m. appearance in New Britain Superior Court, authorities said.
All seven victims disappeared in 2003, when Howell was mowing lawns and working other odd jobs in central Connecticut.
A hunter came upon the remains of the first three victims in 2007 behind the strip mall in New Britain, 12 miles southwest of Hartford. The bodies were identified as those of Diane Cusack, 53, of New Britain; Joyvaline Martinez, 24, of East Hartford; and Mary Jane Menard, 40, of New Britain.
The remains of the other four victims were found in April when authorities returned to the site several times with an FBI dog trained to smell cadavers. They were identified as 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 was convicted of manslaughter in 2005 for killing Arizmendi, despite her body not having been found. He is serving a 15-year sentence in her death.
New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell announced Friday morning that authorities had obtained arrest warrants for Howell for the other six killings. Wardwell said three of the victims were sexually assaulted. He declined to comment further.
The Associated Press has not been able to determine whether Howell has a lawyer who can comment on the allegations. The capital felony charges used to carry the possibility of the death penalty, but the state no longer has capital punishment.
Howell had two children in Hampton and was in and out of jail for crimes that were often related to drugs. By the time the 5-foot-9, 220-pound man with a tattoo on one bicep arrived in Connecticut, his record included criminal convictions for larceny and burglary in Virginia, as well as arrests in Georgia and New Jersey.
Howell's van was found in North Carolina in 2004. Authorities said tests on blood found in the van showed a match with Arizmendi, and he was charged in her death after being arrested in North Carolina. Also in the van, police said, were videotapes of Howell having sex with women.
Authorities have said drug use was a main connection among most of the victims.