The William Devin Howell Case

Handyman Suspected in 8 Connecticut Deaths

William Devin Howell
William Devin Howell. Mug Shot

On January 30, 2007, William Devin Howell pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of 33-year-old Nilsa Arizmendi who was last seen in Howell's van, although her body was not found.

While serving a 15-year sentence for Arizmendi's death, police in New Britain, Connecticut began finding human remains of seven individuals on a 15-acre wooded parcel behind a strip mall - three in 2007 and four more in April 2015.

Howell was named a suspect in the serial killings after the 2015 discoveries.

Here is the latest development in the case of William Devin Howell:

Howell Hearing Delayed Until December

October 28, 2015 - The attorney for suspected serial killer William Devin Howell requested a received a delay of a probable cause hearing until December 10. Attorney William Paetzold told the judge that he needed more time to review police files before he can advise his client.

Paetzold said he expected a "voluminous" amount of discovery material to be turned over to him by prosecutors, which he will need to review before deciding whether or not his client should waive the probably cause hearing.

Judge Joan Alexander granted Paetzold a continuance until December. Howell was not in the courtroom, but watched the brief hearing via video from jail.

Howell Indicted for Six Murders

Sept. 18, 2015 - A man long suspected in the deaths of seven people whose remains were found in the woods behind a Connecticut strip mall has now been officially charged in six of their murders.

William Devin Howell is already serving time for the manslaughter of one of the victims.

Howell was charged with capital felony murder and felony murder in the deaths of the other six victims, all of whom were connected to drug use and vanished in 2003 when Howell was working in the area mowing lawns and doing odd jobs.

The first three victims were found in 2007 behind the New Britain strip mall. There were Diane Cusack, 53, of New Britain; Joyvaline Martinez, 24, of East Hartford; and Mary Jane Menard, 40, of New Britain.

A search with cadaver dogs in April turned up four other victims: 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 in Arizmendi's death after her blood was found in his van after it was searched in North Carolina in 2004.

If convicted, Howell will not face the death penalty because Connecticut has abolished capital punishment.

Suspected Serial Killer Eyed in Florida Death

Aug. 16, 2015 - A man serving a sentence for manslaughter who is suspected of being a serial killer in Connecticut has now been named as a person of interest in the case of a Florida woman who was killed in 1991.

William Devin Howell, suspected in the deaths of seven people whose remains were found behind a strip mall in Connecticut, is also being investigated in the death of 21-year-old April Stone whose body was found Jan. 16, 1991 in Seminole County, Florida.

Florida officials admit they have no direct evidence linking Howell to Stone's death, except for the fact that he was in the area at the time of her death.

"I don't think there is much there to link him other than he was in the area," Seminole County detective Robert Jaynes told reporters. "There is some evidence we can process that we can try to match to Mr. Howell and that's it."

Howell's Former Home Searched

June 25, 2015 - The investigation into the deaths of seven people found behind a Connecticut strip mall has led to the search of a home in Virginia where the main suspect used to live. Investigators last week began searching a residence in Hampton, Virginia where key suspect William Devin Howell once lived.

Using a FBI police dog, searchers went to the home - about 500 miles south of the New Britain, Connecticut strip mall where the seven bodies were found - to search for possible clues in the case.

Howell, who is currently serving 15 years for the deaths of one of the people found in the woods behind the strip mall, has not been charged with any additional crimes in connection with the deaths of Marilyn Gonzalez, 26; Diane Cusack, 53; Joyvaline Martinez, 24; Mary Jane Menard, 40; Melanie Ruth Camilini, 29; and Danny Lee Whistnant, 44.

Another Murder Victim Identified

June 8, 2015 - Another murder victim found in the woods behind a strip mall in Connecticut has been identified as a mother of two who vanished 12 years ago. Authorities said the remains of the latest victim to be identified belong to Marilyn Mendez Gonzalez of Waterbury.

The 26-year-old Gonzalez disappeared from her home on May 15, 2003. She was the mother of two young girls. Police said if she was alive today, she would be a grandmother.

Gonzales is the second victim who vanish from Waterbury. Melanie Camilini, who lived in Seymour, disappeared while in Waterbury.

The deaths have all been linked to William Devin Howell, police said, but no charges have been filed.

Convict May Be Serial Killer

May 11, 2015 - A man who is serving 15 years in prison for the murder of a Connecticut woman whose blood was found in his van, along with the blood of an unidentified person, is suspected in the deaths of seven people whose remains were found behind a New Britain strip mall.

William Devin Howell has been named as the suspect in the investigation into the slayings of three people whose bodies were found in 2007 and another four whose remains were discovered last month with the help of a specially trained FBI cadaver dog.

Although Howell has yet to be charged with any of the murders, or even officially named as a suspect by authorities, several local media outlets have reported that the 45-year-old is the main suspect in the case.

Police have not said, however, how Howell was linked to the seven murders.

Arrested in North Carolina

On April 22, 2004, Howell was arrested in North Carolina on an unrelated charge and his van was seized pursuant to a search warrant issued in Connecticut. DNA evidence found in the van was linked to Arizmendi, who was last seen getting into Howell's van to purchase drugs in July 2003.

On May 13, 2005, Howell was arrested in Hampton, Virginia on a fugitive warrant and returned to Connecticut where he was charged with first-degree murder in Arizmendi's death.

On January 30, 2007, Howell accepted a plea deal and entered an Alford plea on the lesser charge of manslaughter.

In an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit guilt but agrees that prosecutors have enough evidence to convict. Howell was sentenced to 15 years.

Skeletal Remains Found

That same year, a hunter found skeletal remains in the wooded area behind a strip mall in New Britain. It took the state forensic lab years to do so, but the three victims were identified as Diane Cusack, 53; Joyvaline Martinez, 23; and Jane Menard, 40.

Each of the victims were last seen alive in 2003. They were all known to have substance abuse problems and they all frequented the same downtown area in New Britain, police said.

Cusack was never reported missing because she had been out of touch with her family for several years. Martinez was reported missing when she failed to show up for her own birthday party at her mother's home where she was living. Menard, a substance abuse counselor, was reported missing in October 2003, as was Martinez.

Howell Worked in the Area

During the same 2003 time frame, Howell was working as a handyman and cut lawns for homes and businesses in Wethersfield, Hartford, New Britain, and West Hartford.

After the hunter found the initial remains, police returned to the 15-acre wooded area behind the strip mall at 593 Hartford Road each year to search, but this year a dog from the FBI was used and was able to locate the remains of four more individuals on April 28.

One of the victims has been identified as Melanie Ruth Camilini, a 29-year-old mother of two, who also disappeared in 2003. The other three remains have yet to be identified.

One of the remaining victims is believed to be a man who lived and dressed as a woman, media sources said.

Authorities have not said if they suspect that Arizmendi is one of the victims recently found in the swampy, wooded area about 13 miles from Hartford.