Authorities in central Connecticut have identified a suspected serial killer believed to be responsible for the deaths of at least seven women whose bodies were dumped behind a shopping center in a commercial area of New Britain.
The suspect is already in police custody on unrelated charges, according to the Hartford Courant. Police would not name the suspect or provide other details because they said it could jeopardize the case.
Sources identified the suspect to NBC Connecticut as William Devin Howell, a 45-year-old former Virginia man serving 15 years in prison in Connecticut on a 2007 manslaughter charge.
The victims all went missing around 2003.
Police and prosecutors has been investigating since 2007 and launched a task force in 2014. A $150,000 reward, the largest in the state’s history, was offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Suspect Is No Longer a ‘Threat’ to the Public
While police and prosecutors declined to publicly confirm the suspect’s identity as William Devin Howell, they said he is no longer a threat to the public.
“The ongoing investigation supports our strong belief that the person responsible for this is not able to continue this conduct at this time,” New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell said at the news conference. “Based upon the totality of information, we have no reason to believe there is any threat whatsoever to the general public at this time.”
Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane said it would be “unethical” to release the name now before the investigation is completed and any charges are filed.
This image from Google Maps shows the shopping center at 593 Hartford Road in New Britain. The wooded area behind the shopping center is where the remains were found.
2. Three of the Women Were Found in 2007 After They Disappeared in 2003
Police said three women who were reported missing in 2003 were found in 2007 in a wooded area behind a shopping center on Hartford Road, the state’s attorney’s office says.
Diane Cusack, born in April 1955, was identified in December 2010. Cusack, of New Britain, was last seen alive in summer 2003.
Joyvaline “Joy” Martinez was 24 when she was reported missing in October 2003. The East Hartford resident was identified in August 2013.
Diane Cusack, born April 1, 1955, was identified as one of the victims in December 2010. Ms. Cusack, who lived on Oak Street in New Britain, was last seen alive in the late summer/early fall of 2003.
Mary Jane Menard was identified as one of the victims in 2014. She was 40 when she was reported missing in October 2003.
3. Four More Victims Were Found Earlier This Year, Including a Mother of 2 Whose Birthday Is May 12
A FBI cadaver dog brought in by the task force found more remains in April 2015. Police brought in excavators and found four more bodies.
One of the victims was identified as Melanie Ruth Camilini, who had been missing since January 2003. The mother of two children was 29 when she disappeared.
Camilini’s 40th birthday would have been May 12, the same day police announced they had identified her as one of the victims. Her family left a birthday balloon near the site where she was found.
Police said they have searched the entire area and do not belief there are any other remains buried there.
4. The Case Is Not Connected to a Girl Who Was Found Dead in the Same Area in 1995
Police and prosecutors said there is no connection between the seven women found between 2007 and 2015 and the death of a teenaged girl whose body was found in the same area in 1995, according to The Associated Press.
The girl, Elizabeth Honsch, was found behind the strip mall in 1995. The body of her mother, Marisa Honsch, was found a week later in Massachusetts. They were both shot in the head. Police have arrested and charged Robert Honsch, Elizabeth’s father and Marisa’s husband, in their deaths. He has pleaded not guilty and awaits trial. According to the AP, he killed his wife and daughter and then moved to Ohio.
Honsch, now 70, was arrested in July. He had changed his name to Robert Tyree and was living in Wooster, Ohio with a new wife and their children.
5. The Suspect Would Be the Most Prolific Serial Killer in Connecticut Since the 1980s
If charged, the suspect would be the most prolific serial killer in Connecticut since Michael “The Roadside Strangler” Ross, who was executed in 2005 after confessing to eight murders. Ross killed eight women, ranging in ages from 14 to 25, in Connecticut and New York from 1981 to 1984.