New Britain neighbors hired suspected serial killer before arres - WFSB 3 Connecticut


New Britain neighbors hired suspected serial killer before arrest

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William Devin Howell. (New Britain Police/WFSB) William Devin Howell. (New Britain Police/WFSB)

Authorities said William Devin Howell is being accused of killing as many as seven people in the state during a span of six months in 2003.

However, it was back in 2001 and 2002 where a few families in the Belvedere section of New Britain said they hired Howell to do handy work and landscape for them.

"The minute I saw his picture, I said that's our 'Devin,' who worked in the neighborhood for two years,” said Jan Wallace of New Britain.

It wasn’t until his mug shot was made public that Wallace realized she invited a suspected serial killer into her home at least a half dozen times.

“There were no red flags,” she said, adding that he was “very personable,” and told her he was divorced and sending money home for his children.

Howell was hired to mow the lawn, paint, and plant shrubs.

Wallace said he went by “Devin” and had a southern drawl, decent prices and did diligent work.

"He put a brochure on the door to hire him as a handy man and on top of being reasonably priced, which was very attractive, he was also very polite,” Wallace said.

She added that she’s normally cautious.

One year after Howell worked for her, police said he went on a violent crime spree, allegedly killing six women and one man.

Several were raped, some strangled, and police said all of them fought back until they couldn’t any longer.

"I was absolutely shocked, thought I was a good judge of character, so I thought if this could happen to me, it could happen to anyone or a senior citizen who’s not as aware as I was,” Wallace said. “I mean my goodness, my husband even thought he was great."

She said she even rode in the blue Ford van, the same authorities said Howell dubbed as his “murder mobile” where he carried out most of the crimes.

“I went to the Home Depot to get new shrubs, because he couldn't get the color I wanted, and there were no qualms about being in the van,” Wallace said.

She said she shared her personal story as a way to warn others.

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