NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (WTNH) — Nuclear DNA is how investigators were able to identify six of the seven human remains found behind a New Britain shopping plaza. DNA collection is something the Forensics Department at the University of New Haven specializes in.
“I would like to think that UNH provided a very helpful service to the task force,” said Peter Massey, a forensics instructor.
The Forensics Department owns a ground-penetrating radar, which costs roughly $20,000. It works like a metal-detector, sensing objects buried beneath the ground by sending out radar waves that generate a computerized pattern on a monitor. The University of New Haven owns the device and trains with it regularly. The Greater New Britain Serial Killer Task Force called them to help search the wooded area where the remains were found.
“Those people out in the field have the toughest job, to ID evidence, properly collect it, properly package it, properly document it,” Massey said.
DNA evidence is also how police were able to convict William Devin Howell on manslaughter charges for the death of Nilsa Arizmendi. Her blood was found inside Howell’s van, so even without a body, he was convicted after her abduction in Wethersfield.
“I can’t even imagine how many people didn’t get hurt because Mr. Howell was convicted of manslaughter in 2005,” said Wethersfield Police Chief James Cetran, as he praised the efforts of his detective who worked the case against Howell.
Several law enforcement sources close to the investigation have confirmed that Howell is a suspect in all the murders. However, they have not said if or when murder charges will be filed.