Conn. (WTNH) — After Netflix released its latest thriller series, ‘Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’, based on the gruesome true story of Jeffrey Dahmer, Americans are reminded of their fascination with serial killers.
Serial killers, sometimes referred to as serial murderers, are defined in many ways. Over the years an exact definition has not been pinpointed by any one criminal justice organization, as many law enforcement agencies note different requirements for someone to be categorized as a serial killer.
Most often the debate falls on how many people were killed by said person, and how frequently it occurred.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), one definition of a serial killer was confirmed in a federal law passed by Congress in 1998.
The law stated that “The term ‘serial killings’ means a series of three or more killings, not less than one of which was committed within the United States, having common characteristics such as to suggest the reasonable possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors.”
However, the FBI said that this definition is not always practical when applied to real-life situations. Law enforcement officers must look at more than just a body count, but motive and methodology as well.
Many of us are familiar with the most evil and infamous serial killers out there. Dahmer is one of them, as is Ted Bundy, Ed Kemper, or even an old-school villain like Jack the Ripper.
But did you know that Connecticut is home to serial killers as well?
It’s true. Connecticut has seen its fair share of murder, and even serial killings. Some you may remember, and others may surprise you.
News 8 has compiled a list of some of the most prolific serial murderers to ever disgrace the state.
WARNING: Some of the content below is graphic and contains acts of extreme violence.
William Devin Howell, aka “Sick Ripper” (Body count: 7)
William Devin Howell was born on February 11, 1970, and was convicted of killing seven women in Connecticut. Howell is easily one of the state’s most prolific killers, murdering and dismembering his victims, as well as videotaping himself raping them.
He’s also one of the most memorable, as his killing spree took place only 19 years ago.
Howell once described himself to a fellow inmate as a “sick ripper” who possessed a monster inside of him, which is where some media outlets picked up his moniker, the Sick Ripper.
All of Howell’s victims were kidnapped and killed in 2003, according to state police. Howell was first suspected of the murder of Nilsa Arizmendi, a 33-year-old sex worker, in April 2004. He spent months denying his involvement with the murder, despite police having found Arizmendi’s blood in the back of Howell’s van.
Howell was sentenced to 15 years in prison for manslaughter because of this, despite police not having found Arizmendi’s body. Just weeks after his conviction, however, the case took a monumental turn.
A hunter accidentally stumbled onto a graveyard behind the WestFarms shopping mall in West Hartford. Three bodies were found, belonging to 55-year-old Diane Cusack, 23-year-old Joyvaline Martinez, and 40-year-old Mary Jane Menard.
They were all later discovered to be Howell’s victims.
More remains were discovered on April 28, 2015, and they were identified as Arizmendi, 26-year-old Marilyn Gonzalez, 29-year-old Melanie Ruth Camilini, and 44-year-old Janice Roberts, a transgender woman who was referred to in the criminal case by her legal name, Danny Lee Whistnant.
The victims were discovered in two locations, including an area behind a shopping plaza on Hartford Road in New Britain, later referred to by Howell as his “garden.”
On November 17, 2017, Howell was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences after pleading guilty to the murders of Cusack, Martinez, Menard, Gonzalez, Camilini, and Roberts. To this day, he remains in prison at the Cheshire Correctional Institution.
Years later, author Anne K. Howard wrote the book His Garden: Conversations with a Serial Killer. It is an autobiographical and biographical true crime book written about Howell, which details confessions and recollections of his actions.
Michael Bruce Ross, aka “The Roadside Killer” (Body count: 8)
Michael Bruce Ross was born on July 26, 1959. An infamous killer in Connecticut, Ross claimed the lives of eight women between 1981 to 1984.
Because of those atrocities, Ross became the first person to be executed since 1960 and was the last person the state put to death before the death penalty was repealed.
Like many serial murderers, reports say that Ross had a problematic childhood. He was the firstborn child of four in Hartford, at the time one of the most dangerous cities in the state. Ross’ mother abandoned her children and was institutionalized after a period of time.
It’s also said that Ross experienced molestation at the hands of his uncle.
This report is unconfirmed, as the uncle committed suicide before he could be questioned by police. However, members of Ross’ family attest the abuse occurred.
Ross began targeting and killing young women in 1981. He would track these women while they were walking home alone, usually on empty roadways, or he would search for lone hitchhikers. This led to his nickname, The Roadside Killer.
He later described how he would carefully lure the young women to his car, before forcing them into a secure and remote location. Ross would bind and rape his victims, before choking them to death afterward.
Police finally caught Ross when investigating one of his crime scenes, and a witness recognized the vehicle he used. Officers followed this lead to interrogate everyone who had been in the car, and Ross was among them. He admitted to his crimes after a difficult interrogation.
Investigators said that Ross even showed them where he had buried some of his victim’s bodies. He was sentenced to death, and his execution was carried out on May 13, 2005.
Emanuel Lovell Webb, aka “The East End Killer” (Body count: 5)
*No photograph of Emanuel Lovell Webb could be found by News 8 resources.*
Emanuel Lovell Webb was born on April 9, 1966, in the state of Georgia.
Upon first glance, Webb seemed as ordinary a man there can be. Born and raised in Georgia, Webb only moved to Bridgeport in 1987 after graduating high school, where he would live with his sister until 1993.
He lived for many years as a Bridgeport resident, where he worked as a security guard in Fairfield. He held a steady girlfriend during this time, even having two children with her.
In 1993, Webb moved back to Georgia, where his remaining time living in freedom was short-lived.
He was arrested in Georgia, in July 1994 for the murder of 37-year-old Evelyn Charity, who was sexually assaulted and strangled.
Webb pleaded guilty to the lesser charges of involuntary manslaughter, robbery, and theft of a motor vehicle. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
In late 2001, he was released on parole.
However, Webb violated this parole. This crucial mistake on his part would lead Bridgeport investigators to the ruthless killer who terrorized the local community in the early 90s.
When this happened, a cold case unit with the Bridgeport police accessed Webb’s DNA and used it to test against the crime scenes of four women who were killed between 1991 and 1994.
The DNA sample was a hit, and police said it connected Webb to all four crime scenes. At the time, they also believed he could have been responsible for up to six other killings in the city.
Webb was charged in 2006 with the April 19, 1993, death of 34-year-old Elizabeth “Maxine” Gandy.
He was then linked to the deaths of 39-year-old Sharon Cunningham, 37-year-old Minnie Sutton, and 29-year-old Sheila Etheridge, all from Bridgeport.
Webb’s victims during his three-year rampage were all found in abandoned buildings and lots on Bridgeport’s East End, where Webb resided. Because of this, police dubbed Webb “The East End Killer.”
Police said that Webb would strangle his victims to death after disfiguring them, raping them, and abusing them.
His presence spread terror throughout Bridgeport and surrounding communities during the early to mid-90s.
In May 2008, Webb pled no contest to the murder of three of the victims. This meant that he didn’t contest the charges, but the state would make a finding of guilty. A month later, he was sentenced to 60 years in prison for three of the four Connecticut murders, with Etheridge’s case being dropped at the last minute.
Webb is still serving out his sentence to this day.
Joseph Taborsky, aka “Mad Dog” (Body count: 6)
Joseph Taborsky was born on March 23, 1924, and went on a killing spree in Connecticut in the 1950s that sent residents of that time into a certified panic.
To this day, Taborsky remains an anomaly in the Connecticut justice system. He is the only convict to be sentenced to death in the state twice.
Taborsky’s crime spree began in 1950, he would go on to claim the lives of six victims, and he would assault multiple others. Unlike other serial killers on this list, Taborsky’s motivations were money.
During a string of armed robberies, he would rob his victims, beat them, and oftentimes fatally shoot them. A few of his victims survived their gunshot wounds or pistol whippings, according to police.
Due to the violent nature of these crimes, they were dubbed “The Mad Dog Killings,” earning Taborsky the nickname “Mad Dog.” His crimes sent the state into such a panic, police reported that people were fearful to leave their homes.
In 1957, package stores changed their hours, closing at 8 p.m. instead of 11 p.m., as people were afraid to be out too late in the evenings.
Records indicate that his first victim was Louis Wolfson, an East Hartford liquor store owner, who was shot to death on March 23, 1950, Taborsky’s 26th birthday. This fatal shooting would be the case that landed Taborsky on death row, the first time around, anyway.
Taborsky was convicted by the state and sentenced to death for Wolfson’s murder, along with his brother Albert. Albert was found to be a co-conspirator, but testified against Taborsky in exchange for a life sentence.
However, not long into Albert’s sentence, he was institutionalized after developing a mental illness. Upon hearing this, Taborsky appealed his case, as the only witness to the murder was classified as insane by the state.
The court repealed Taborsky’s death row sentence, setting him free in October 1955.
Taborsky, of course, did not go on to turn over a new leaf. He began killing again in 1956.
His other victims included Edward Kurpewski and Daniel Janowski, who were both killed on December 15, 1956. Taborsky killed a man named Samuel Cohn on December 26, 1956, just 11 days later.
Bernard “Buster” Speyer and Ruth Speyer were both killed on January 5, 1957, and John M. Rosenthal was killed on January 26, 1957.
All of the previously mentioned victims died due to gunshot wounds after they were beaten and robbed.
What led Taborsky to death row for the second time was a fatal robbery he committed with a felon and newfound accomplice, Arthur “Meatball” Culombe.
While Taborsky was beating and robbing a pair of grandparents in a grocery store, he and Culombe discovered a 3-year-old girl hiding. Taborsky ordered Culombe to shoot the girl, but Culombe couldn’t go through with it.
He stashed her, fired a shot into the floor, and let Taborsky believe she was dead.
Because of this incident along with his cooperation with the police, Culombe was given a life sentence. Taborsky, however, received the death penalty. Again. Thus, Taborsky became the only Connecticut convict to be placed on death row twice.
In May 1960, at age 36, Taborsky was executed by an electric chair for the “Mad Dog Killings.” Before his execution, he fully confessed to the 1950 murder of Wolfson.
Taborsky was the last person executed in Connecticut until 2005 when Ross was executed.
According to some reports, Taborsky donated his body to the Yale School of Medicine, and his ashes were later buried in the garden of Christ Church Cathedral.