NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WAVY) – Though police have not released a name, multiple sources say a Hampton man is suspected as the New Britain serial killer.
WTNH and the Associated Press report William Devin Howell, 45, is the man investigators suspect in the murder of at least seven people, whose remains were found behind a Connecticut shopping center.
According to the Hampton Police Division, Howell lived in Hampton on and off for a number of years, until his arrest in 2005. A cousin still in the area told 10 On Your Side Howell grew up in Hampton and attended Bethel High School.
Remains of three women were first discovered in a wooded area behind the Connecticut strip mall by a hunter in 2007. Investigators have returned to the site annually, and a cadaver-sniffing FBI dog located four new victims there last month.
“This is certainly the burial site,” New Britain police Chief James Wardwell said during a Monday press conference. Police said they believe one person committed all seven murders and that they had a suspect, but did not release a name.
“There is no longer danger to public,” said Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Cane. “The person responsible does not pose any threat to the public at this time.”
Howell is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for the homicide of Nilsa Arizmendi, who was last seen alive in 2003 in Howell’s van in Connecticut, according to the State of Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice. In 2005, Howell was arrested in Hampton as a fugitive from justice in this case and charged with first-degree murder. Two years later, he entered an Alford plea and was ultimately convicted of manslaughter in the first degree.
Arizmendi’s body has not been recovered, but her blood was found in Howell’s van.
The van was seized in Bertie County, N.C. in April 2004, after Howell was arrested there for an unrelated matter. Investigators say they found a substantial amount of blood from a second person in the van, but have not been able to identify that victim. Also in the van, investigators found a videotape on which two women were recorded — detectives have not been able to identify them.
Sgt. Jason Price, spokesperson for Hampton police, told WAVY.com HPD has not been contacted by Connecticut police or the FBI for the new cases against Howell.
WAVY.com spoke to Howell’s cousin, who still lives in Hampton Roads. She hasn’t spoken to Howell since she was a teenager and did not know about his possible connection to the human remains found recently.
The cousin told WAVY News’ Liz Palka Howell does not have much family left in the area. She said she believes Howell had a girlfriend with connections to Connecticut, which is why he was living there in the early 2000s. She added, the girlfriend is not one of the victims in the New Britain case.
In the summer of 2003, police say Howell had been in Connecticut, doing odd jobs and cutting grass at homes and businesses in Wethersfield, Hartford, New Britain and West Hartford.
So far, investigators have identified four of the seven murder victims found behind the Connecticut strip mall — they are all woman who went missing in 2003 in Connecticut. Diane Cusack, Joyline Martinez, and Mary Jane Menard were identified in 2007, and police identified Melanie Ruth Camilini as a fourth victim on Monday.
Investigators are still working to identify the remaining three victims. The Cold Case Unit at the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney is still trying to identify the two women on the video tape and the second person whose blood was found in Howell’s van.
If you have information about these cases, please contact the Cold Case Unit at the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney at 860-258-5800.
WTNH and the Associated Press contributed to this report.