A serial killer who authorities say gruesomely murdered seven people in Connecticut, some of whom he raped and dismembered in a van he called the “Murder Mobile,” will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars.
William Devin Howell, 47, pleaded guilty Friday to six of the killings, the Associated Press reports.
Howell was previously convicted of manslaughter in one of the deaths, for which he is already serving a 15-year prison sentence.
Authorities discovered the seven bodies buried in the woods behind a strip mall, an area he called his “garden.” Three of the bodies were uncovered in 2007, while the remaining bodies were found in 2015.
Howell’s guilty plea means the case can avoid a trial and could save the public nearly $1 million, his lawyers said.
“By pleading guilty today, William Howell wanted to spare the victims’ families further emotional pain through a lengthy and drawn out trial that would have taken several weeks, if not months,” attorneys Jeffrey Kestenband and William Paetzold wrote in a statement.
Prosecutor Brian Preleski thanked local, state and federal law enforcement officials who investigated the slayings. He expressed “our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of these innocent victims.”
The victims, who disappeared in 2003, were Joyvaline Martinez, 24; Marilyn Gonzalez, 26; Melanie Ruth Camilini, 29; Nilsa Arizmendi, 33; Mary Jane Menard, 40; Danny Lee Whistnant, 44; and Diane Cusack, 53.
Police arrested Howell in 2005 in Hampton, Virginia, on charges of killing Arizmendi. He later pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Howell raped three of the women and stored one of the bodies for two weeks in the van, where he slept next to it and called the victim his “baby,” court records state.
In conversations with a fellow jail inmate, he also said a monster was inside of him and he called himself a “sick ripper” and referred to the van as the “Murder Mobile,” the documents show.
He further told the cellmate that the first woman he killed was someone he had raped in the van. He strangled her and then struck her in the head with a hammer.
Howell said he kept the woman’s body in the van for a time because it was too cold to bury her. He claimed that he cut off her fingertips, ripped apart her jaw and then threw out the body parts in Virginia.
Investigators found blood in the van that matched one of the victims and videos of Howell raping the women.
Howell met the women primarily through drug use and said they should’ve known they would die given their lifestyles.
With Friday’s guilty pleas, Howell has become the most prolific serial killer in state history, not including mass shootings, according to the AP.
He will be sentenced in November and faces 360 years in prison.
Feature photo: New Britain Police