The Associated Press reports that William Devin Howell,47, of Hampton, Virginia, has been sentenced to life in prison for the random murders of seven victims in 2003 by a Connecticut state judge. Howell reportedly drove a van he called the “murder mobile.”
Howell received six life sentences, to be served consecutively, on Friday this week. Victims’ families spoke at the hearing, explaining how the murders have devastated their lives. These sentences come after Howell pleaded guilty to the murder charges pressed against him in September of this year.
It is widely believed that Howell is the “most prolific serial killer in Connecticut history,” according to the AP. His seven victims topped the six women killed by serial killer Michael Ross, who was executed twelve years ago.
Although Connecticut abolished capital punishment in 2015, Howell cried in court telling the judge he deserved the death penalty.
All seven of Howell’s victims were found buried in the woods behind a strip mall in New Britain, Connecticut. The first three were found in 2007, and the other four were found in 2015.
Howell was working odd jobs in the area and mowing lawns in 2003 when all seven of his victims went missing. The bodies were identified as Mary Jane Menard, 40; Joyvaline Martinez, 24; Diane Cusack, 53; Melanie Ruth Camilini, 29; Marilyn Gonzalez, 26; Danny Lee Whistnant, 44; and Nilsa Arizmendi, 33.
Howell was first arrested in 2005 for the death of Arizmendi, and he pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges. Three of the victims were sexually assaulted. According to police records, one body remained in his “murder mobile” for two weeks while he slept next to it, calling it his “baby.”
He also reportedly told a fellow inmate that one of the bodies was wrapped up and kept in the van when it was too cold to bury it. Howell then proceeded to remove her fingertips, bottom jaw and dumped her body parts somewhere in Virginia, states the AP.
Blood matching one of the victims was found in Howell’s van. All of the victims were known drug users according to police.
*Photo credit Associated Press