Suspected Connecticut serial killer identified

BRIDGEPORT – Law enforcement sources confirm that a former Wethersfield landscaper, currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for the death of a young woman in 2003, is suspected of being the serial killer responsible for the death of at least eight women — including Melanie Camilini of Seymour — whose remains have been found in New Britain.

William Devin Howell, 45, is currently in Garner Correctional Center serving a sentence for first-degree manslaughter in the death of 33-year-old Nilsa Arizmendi who was last seen alive on July 25, 2003, in Wethersfield.

Sources said The Greater New Britain Serial Task Force, set up after the discovery of the remains of three missing women were found behind a New Britain shopping center, has evidence linking Howell not only to the death of those three women but to four others, including Melanie Camilini of Seymour, whose remains were found at the same New Britain location in April.

Howell was arrested on May 13, 2005, in Hampton, Virginia, and charged as a fugitive from justice in the death of Nilsa Arizmendi, who was last seen alive in his van in Wethersfield.

Arizmendi was reported missing to the Wethersfield Police Department by her sister on July 31, 2003. Her body has not been recovered.

Howell is serving his sentence at the Garner Correctional Facility in Newtown, and is scheduled for release in 2019.

DNA analysis conducted by the Connecticut State Police Forensic Laboratory determined that blood evidence found in Howell’s van was from the 33-year-old victim. The van was seized in North Carolina on April 22, 2004, pursuant to a search warrant issued in Connecticut. Howell had been arrested in North Carolina in an unrelated matter.

State authorities are seeking the public’s assistance to determine the source of additional blood found in the van. Additional evidence recovered from the van indicated that a substantial amount of blood from a second, unidentified individual was present.

According to the Cold Case site created by the state Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, Howell had been doing odd jobs at homes and businesses in Wethersfield, Hartford , New Britain and West Hartford at the time of Arizmendi’s disappearance.

The Cold Case Unit is attempting to identify two women who were recorded on a videotape recovered from Howell’s van. If you have information on the identity of either or both of these women or additional information about this case, please contact the Cold Case Unit at the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney at 860-258-5800. Or follow this link to email the Cold Case Unit or call the Tip Line at 860-548-0606. All calls will be kept confidential.

Read the Connecticut Post story on the discovery of the women’s remains in New Britain here.

 Howell grew up in Harwinton, in northwest Connecticut, according to a database search. He had a number of motor vehicle violations dating from 2001, and was charged with failure to appear in court and violation of probation in 2004.

Frank Juliano