Connecticut investigators believe William Howell is the strip mall serial killer, and continue searching for links to a slew of other unsolved disappearances in and around the community of New Britain.
If they’re right, that’s good, since the 45-year-old is already in prison for the abduction and slaying of one area woman, last seen alive getting into the handyman’s van on the promise of a dope deal.
In fact, that vehicle, and its telltale blood spills and hair strands and fibers, is what possibly connects the career-criminal nomad to six additional bodies recently unearthed in the woods behind New Britain’s shopping center at 593 Hartford Road.
Like 33-year-old Nilsa Arizmendi, the missing Wethersfield Connecticut woman who Howell was eventually nabbed for killing, these other victims too were last seen in the commercial district the vagabond was known to prowl.
And all vanished within the same timeframe -- around 2003 -- to be found years later resting uneasy in shallow graves behind the retail complex when a hapless hunter accidentally stumbled into the serial killer’s dumping grounds.
By spring of 2015 all of the corpses discarded in the 15-acre wooded parcel were believed to have been excavated, although the identities of some victims would still be unknown for several more weeks.
Homicide detectives working the case today acknowledge there may be yet more gruesome secrets hidden in New Britain's taped-off grove, but, long ago, the killings themselves had suddenly stopped.
“I can’t even imagine how many people didn’t get hurt because Mr. Howell was convicted of manslaughter in 2005,” said Wethersfield’s chief of police James Cetran, when the last of the strip mall skeletons were finally identified this year.
However, if William Howell is the strip mall serial killer, the clock is ticking against his prosecutors now: Inmate Howell’s release is imminent since he plea bargained kidnapping and murder charges to mere manslaughter, in a rare deal that also allowed him to avoid admitting guilt.
Plus he’s been a “model” prisoner.