May 14, 2015 / 9:38 PM / 2 years ago

Connecticut police say prisoner linked to bodies found behind mall

MILFORD, Conn. (Reuters) - A Connecticut prisoner who pleaded guilty to manslaughter a decade ago is now a suspect in the deaths of seven other people, including four whose bodies were found behind a shopping mall this week, police said on Thursday.

William Devin Howell, 45, who has been in prison since 2005 for killing Nilsa Arizmendi, 34, is now regarded as a suspect in the death of six other people whose bodies were discovered behind the New Britain shopping center, Police Chief James Cetran of Wethersfield said on Thursday.

Blood similar to the type found in Howell's van has been linked to the latest remains found in a wooded area behind the mall, where the bodies of three other women were first found by a hunter in 2007, police said.

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

"It wouldn't surprise me at all if he is linked to and arrested for the other cases because we found blood in the van back when he was arrested 12 years go that was never identified, but I am hoping and expect it will be now," said Cetran.

Officials in 2007 identified the first three victims as Diane Cusack, 53, of New Britain; Joyvaline Martinez, 23, of East Hartford; and Mary Jane Menard, 40, of New Britain.

The deaths were all ruled homicides.

Earlier this week, the remains of four others were identified, including Melanie Ruth Camilini, a mother of two last seen in Waterbury in 2003, and a man, identified Thursday by authorities as Danny Lee Whistnant, 44, who was also reported missing in New Britain in 2003. The bodies were found by police.

Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott

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