New Britain suspected serial killer identified by sources - WFSB 3 Connecticut

New Britain suspected serial killer identified by sources

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William Devin Howell. (DOC/WFSB photos) William Devin Howell. (DOC/WFSB photos)
William Devin Howell. (DOC photo) William Devin Howell. (DOC photo)
Police posted 'no trespassing' signs behind the plaza on Hartford Road. (WFSB photo) Police posted 'no trespassing' signs behind the plaza on Hartford Road. (WFSB photo)

Sources close to a serial murder investigation in New Britain have identified the suspected killer.

They said he's 45-year-old William Devin Howell, a man already behind bars on unrelated manslaughter charges. He's currently serving a 15-year sentence.

Police revealed yesterday that the same suspect was believed to be behind the murders of seven people whose bodies were found behind a shopping plaza on Hartford Road.

According to the state Division of Criminal Justice, Howell was convicted of one count of first-degree manslaughter in 2007.

The DCJ said he pleaded guilty in New Britain under the Alford Doctrine for the homicide of 33-year-old Nilsa Arizmendi, who was last seen in Wethersfield in 2003. She was seen getting into his van.

Arizmendi's body was never recovered.

Howell was arrested in 2005 in Virginia and charged in connection with the case, according the DCJ. He is serving 15 years in prison.

SLIDESHOW: Crime scene photos of serial killer case

State police analyzed blood found in Howell's van and determined it belonged to Arizmendi.

Blood belonging to another person was also found in the van. However, investigators have been unable to figure out to whom it belongs.At the time of the victim's disappearance in 2003, Howell had been in Connecticut doing odd jobs like mowing grass at homes and businesses in Hartford, Wethersfield, West Hartford and New Britain.

In addition to the unidentified blood, the state police Cold Case Unit said it is trying to identify two women who were seen on video recovered from inside Howell's van.

There were six video tapes found in the van, and police said they were of Howell, with unknown women, engaging in sexual acts. Arizmendi was not on the tapes.

A video recorder and equipment were also found in the van.

Police said Howell has a lengthy criminal history along the east coast, including burglary, and he has shown violence against women.

A previous girlfriend of Howell's said he ripped the telephone from the wall once to prevent her from calling police, restraining her from running away from him, and punched her in the left eye, the back of the head, and in the stomach.

Howell is not eligible for parole until February 2018.

More information about Howell's manslaughter case can be found on the DCJ's website here.

People in Howell's old neighborhood said they remember seeing him with his girlfriend, identified as 48-year-old Dorothy Holcomb at her home years ago in New Britain.

Neighbors said the house, in New Britain, was knocked down years ago due to asbestos and was replaced with a church parking lot.

"They weren't friendly, I never had a conversation with them," said neighbor Anna McBride.

Details about how Howell has been connected to the seven bodies found in New Britain have not been released.

Human remains were first discovered behind the plaza in 2007.

Three sets were identified as Diane Cusack, Mary Jane Menard and Joyvaline Martinez. All three disappeared in 2003.

A fourth set, which was unearthed last month, was identified on Monday as Melanie Caminili of Seymour.

Investigators continue to work to identify the three remaining bodies discovered behind the plaza in a wooded area.

"We need to identify three additional individuals and we are working hard to do that," said Brian Preleski, New Britain state's attorney.

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