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Famed Conn. Serial Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison

The Hampton, Virginia, native is believed to be the most prolific serial killer in Connecticut history -- not counting mass shootings

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    A drifter who killed seven people in Connecticut in 2003 has been sentenced to six consecutive life sentences. (Published Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017)

    A drifter who killed seven people in Connecticut in 2003 has been sentenced to six consecutive life sentences. 

    A state judge in New Britain handed down a 360-year prison sentence for William Devin Howell, who pleaded guilty to six murder charges in September. He's also serving a 15-year prison sentence for manslaughter in the seventh victim's death. 

    The Hampton, Virginia, native is believed to be the most prolific serial killer in Connecticut history -- not counting mass shootings. The bodies of six women and a man were found buried behind a strip mall in New Britain between 2007 and 2015. 

    Howell was serving a 15-year prison sentence for manslaughter of 33-year-old Nilsa Arizmendi of Wethersfield when he pleaded guilty to killing Joyvaline Martinez, 24, of East Hartford; Diane Cusack, 53, of New Britain; Mary Jane Menard, 40, of New Britain; Melanie Ruth Camilini, 29, of Seymour; Marilyn Gonzalez, 26, of Waterbury; and Danny Lee Whistnant, 44, of New Britain.  

    Family members wrote letters that were read aloud in court about their loved ones and the impact Howell had by taking their lives.

    "I will never find peace or forgiveness in my heart for a demon like him. I hope he suffers slowly and rots in hell for the rest of his life," wrote Sandra Martinez, the sister of Joyvaline Martinez.

    "You used your size and your force to rip away lives that did not belong to you," said April Rich, sister of Danny Lee Whistnant.

    Howell spoke for a few minutes apologizing repeatedly for the pain he’s caused, stating if he could take it all back he would, announcing his acts were monstrous and that he believes in the death penalty and feels that should be the sentence.

    This sentence means He will die in prison. He is not eligible for parole or any risk reduction earned credits.

    Police said Howell called his van the "murder mobile" and told a prison cellmate there was a monster inside him. Authorities said three victims were sexually assaulted. 

    He was working odd jobs and cuts grass at homes and businesses in Wethersfield, Hartford, New Britain and West Hartford at the time of the killings.