A former drifter charged with killing six people in Connecticut in 2003 and disposing of the bodies behind a New Britain strip mall pleaded guilty Friday to killing five women and one man.
William Devin Howell, a 47-year-old native of Hampton, Virginia, was already serving a 15-year prison sentence for manslaughter in the killing of a seventh victim, 33-year-old Nilsa Arizmendi of Wethersfield.
Howell will be sentenced on Nov. 17. He is expected to be sentenced to 360 years in prison, or six consecutive life sentences, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice. Of that time, 150 years is mandatory for state law.
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Arizmendi and the six other victims were found buried behind a strip mall.
The other victims were identified as: 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.
Howell sexually assaulted three of the women and kept one of the bodies in his van for two weeks, sleeping next to the body and calling the victim his "baby," according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Howell also told a cellmate "there was a monster inside of him that just came out" and described himself as a "sick ripper," according to the warrant.
Howell 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.
"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. Avoiding a trial also saves the taxpayers of the state nearly $1,000,000," Howell's attorneys, Jeffrey C. Kestenband and William H. Paetzold, said in a statement on Friday.