Ángel Maturino Reséndiz
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|Ángel Maturino Reséndiz|
|FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive|
|Charges||Serial murder, sexual assault|
|Alias||Rafael Resendez-Ramirez, Ángel Reyes Reséndiz|
|Born||Ángel Leoncio Reyes Recendis|
August 1, 1959
Izúcar de Matamoros, Puebla, Mexico
|Died||June 27, 2006 (aged 46)|
|Cause of death||Execution by lethal injection|
|Height||5 ft 4 in (163 cm)|
|Weight||186 lb (84 kg)|
|Added||June 21, 1999|
|Executed||June 27, 2006(aged 46)|
Angel Maturino Reséndiz (August 1, 1959 – June 27, 2006), also known as The Railroad Killer/The Railway Killer/The Railcar Killer, was an itinerant serial killer suspected in as many as 23 murders across the United States and Mexico during the 1990s. Some also involved sexual assault. He became known as "The Railroad (or Railway) Killer" as most of his crimes were committed near railroads where he had jumped off the trains he was using to travel about the country.
On June 21, 1999, he briefly became the 457th fugitive listed by the FBI on its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list before surrendering to the Texas authorities on July 13, 1999. He was convicted of murder and was executed by lethal injection.
Reséndiz had many aliases but was chiefly known and sought after as Rafael Resendez-Ramirez. One of his aliases, Ángel Reyes Reséndiz, was very close to the name Ángel Leoncio Reyes Recendis listed on his birth certificate. He was born in Izúcar de Matamoros, Puebla, Mexico.
Murders and methodology
By illegally jumping on and off trains within and across Mexico, Canada and the United States, generally crossing borders illegally, Reséndiz was able to evade authorities for a considerable time. United States government records show that he had been deported to Mexico at least four times since first entering the U.S. in 1973.
Reséndiz killed at least 15 people with rocks, a pickaxe, and other blunt objects, mainly in their homes. After each murder, he would linger in the homes for a while, mainly to eat; he took sentimental items and laid out the victims' driver's licenses to learn about their lives. He stole jewelry and other items and gave them to his wife and mother, who lived in Rodeo, Durango, Mexico. Much of the jewelry was sold or melted down. Some of the items that were removed from the homes were returned by his wife and mother after his surrender. Money, however, was sometimes left at the scene. He raped some of his female victims; however, rape served as a secondary intent. Most of his victims were found covered with a blanket or otherwise obscured from immediate view.
|Number||Name||Sex||Age||Date of Murder||Location||Notes|
|1||Unidentified woman||F||Unknown||Unknown date in 1986||Bexar County, Texas||Shot four times with a .38-caliber weapon, with her body dumped in an abandoned farmhouse. Reséndiz stated that he met the woman at a homeless shelter. They took a motorcycle trip together, bringing a gun along to fire for target practice. Reséndiz said that he shot and killed the woman for disrespecting him.|
|2||Unidentified man||M||Unknown||Unknown date in 1986||Bexar County, Texas||Supposedly the boyfriend of the previous victim. Reséndiz said he shot and killed him and dumped his body in a creek somewhere between San Antonio and Uvalde. Reséndiz said that he killed the man because the man was involved in black magic. This man's body has never been found, and nothing is known about him except what Reséndiz told authorities. Reséndiz confessed to these first two murders in September 2001, in hopes that doing so would speed up his execution.|
|3||Michael White||M||22||July 19, 1991||San Antonio, Texas||Bludgeoned to death with a brick. His body was found in the front yard of an abandoned downtown house. Reséndiz also confessed to this murder in September 2001. During this confession, he drew a map of the crime scene and claimed that he killed White because he was homosexual.|
|4||Jesse Howell||M||19||March 23, 1997||Ocala, Florida||Bludgeoned to death with an air hose coupling and left beside the railroad tracks.|
|5||Wendy Von Huben||F||16||March 23, 1997||Ocola, Florida||Howell's fiance; raped, strangled, suffocated both manually and with duct tape, and buried in a shallow grave in Sumter County, Florida.|
|6||Unidentified man||M||Unknown||July 1997||Colton, California||A drifter beaten to death with a piece of plywood in a rail yard. Though not officially charged, Reséndiz is considered the prime suspect in this case.|
|7||Christopher Maier||M||21||August 29, 1997||Lexington, Kentucky||A University of Kentucky student walking along nearby railroad tracks with his girlfriend, 20-year-old Holly Dunn Pendleton, when the two were attacked by Reséndiz, who bludgeoned Maier to death with a 52-pound rock. Reséndiz raped and severely beat Pendleton, who nearly died. Pendleton, the only known survivor of an attack by Reséndiz, went on to appear on the Biography channel television programs I Survived..., 48 Hours: Live To Tell, and the ID channel series Dates From Hell (episode 8, "A Killer Night"); her story was also told in the UK newspaper The Guardian. Currently she helps other victims of rape, sexual assault, and crime. She also founded the organization "Holly's House" in her native Evansville, Indiana to benefit victims of rape, sexual assault, and crime, and works closely with RAINN.|
|8||Leafie Mason||F||87||October 4, 1998||Hughes Springs, Texas||Beaten to death with an antique flat iron after entering her house through a window.|
|9||Fannie Whitney Byers||F||81||December 10, 1998||Carl, Georgia||Bludgeoned to death with a tire rim in her home, which was located near CSX Transportation railroad tracks. A Lexington couple was charged with Byers' murder, but according to authorities, Reséndiz admitted to an FBI agent that he killed her.|
|10||Claudia Benton||F||39||December 17, 1998||West University Place, Texas||A pediatric neurologist at the Baylor College of Medicine who was raped, stabbed, and bludgeoned repeatedly with a statue after Reséndiz entered her home near the Union Pacific railroad tracks. Police found Benton's Jeep Cherokee in San Antonio and found Reséndiz's fingerprints on the steering column. At the time of the murder, Reséndiz had a warrant for his arrest for burglary, but not yet for murder.|
|11||Norman J. Sirnic||M||46||May 2, 1999||Weimar, Texas||Bludgeoned to death with a sledgehammer in a parsonage of the United Church of Christ, where Norman Sirnic was a pastor. The building was located adjacent to the Union Pacific railroad. The Sirnics' red Mazda was found in San Antonio three weeks later, and fingerprints linked their case with Claudia Benton's murder.|
|12||Karen Sirnic||F||47||May 2, 1999||Weimar, Texas||Norman's wife|
|13||Noemi Dominguez||F||26||June 4, 1999||Houston, Texas||Bludgeoned to death with a pickaxe in her apartment. Dominguez was a schoolteacher at Houston Independent School District's Benjamin Franklin Elementary School. Seven days later, her white Honda Civic was discovered by state troopers on the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas.|
|14||Josephine Konvicka||F||73||June 4, 1999||Fayette County, Texas||Bludgeoned with the same pickaxe used to kill Dominguez in her farmhouse near Weimar, which is also where the Sirnics were murdered. Reséndiz tried to steal Konvicka's car but could not find the car keys.|
|15||George Morber, Sr.||M||80||June 15, 1999||Gorham, Illinois||Shot in the head with a shotgun. The house was located only 100 yards (90 m) away from a railroad track. Later police found Morber's red pickup truck in Cairo, Illinois, located 60 miles south of Gorham. In addition, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office found fingerprints in the Morbers' ransacked home, positively identifying Reséndiz as the killer.|
|16||Carolyn Frederick||F||52||June 15, 1999||Gorham, Illinois||Bludgeoned to death with the same shotgun used in the Morber killing.|
Reséndiz confessed to seven other killings as well, which he said took place in Mexico.
Arrest and trial
The police tracked down Reséndiz's sister, Manuela. She had seen her brother's FBI Most Wanted Poster and feared that her brother might kill someone else or be killed by the FBI, so she agreed to help the police. On July 12 1999, a Texas Ranger, Drew Carter, accompanied by Manuela and a spiritual guide, met up with Reséndiz on a bridge connecting El Paso, Texas with Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua. Reséndiz surrendered to Carter.
During a court appearance, Reséndiz accused Carter of lying under oath because Reséndiz's family was under the impression that he would be spared the death penalty; however, Reséndiz's ultimate fate would be decided by a jury, not Carter.
In 1999, former Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox, wary of the controversy miring the many confessions and recantations by Henry Lee Lucas, remarked of Reséndiz, "I hope they don't start pinning on him every crime that happens near a railroad track."
Reséndiz would be tried and sentenced to death for Benton's murder.
On June 21, 2006, a Houston judge ruled that Reséndiz was mentally competent to be executed. Upon hearing the judge's ruling, Reséndiz said, "I don't believe in death. I know the body is going to go to waste. But me, as a person, I'm eternal. I'm going to be alive forever." He also described himself as half-man and half-angel and told psychiatrists he could not be executed because he did not believe he could die.
Statements like the above led Dr. Pablo Stewart, a bilingual psychiatrist who evaluated Reséndiz on two occasions in 2006, to conclude that Reséndiz was not currently competent to be executed as "delusions had completely taken over [Reséndiz's] thought processes."
Despite an appeal pending with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Reséndiz's death warrant was signed for the murder of Claudia Benton. He was housed in the Polunsky Unit in West Livingston, Texas.
He was executed in the Huntsville Unit in Huntsville, Texas, on June 27, 2006, by lethal injection. In his final statement, Reséndiz said, "I want to ask if it is in your heart to forgive me. You don't have to. I know I allowed the Devil to rule my life. I just ask you to forgive me and ask the Lord to forgive me for allowing the devil to deceive me. I thank God for having patience in me. I don't deserve to cause you pain. You do not deserve this. I deserve what I am getting." Reséndiz was pronounced dead at 8:05 p.m. CDT (01:05 UTC) on June 27, 2006.
Claudia Benton's husband George was present at the execution and said Reséndiz was "evil contained in human form, a creature without a soul, no conscience, no sense of remorse, no regard for the sanctity of human life."
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The Reséndiz case was featured in four criminal documentaries:
- Crime Stories on the Discovery Channel
- Infamous Murders, "Death in the Country", on The History Channel
- Murder She Solved: True Crime, "Episode 13: Railway Killer", on Oprah Winfrey Network (Canadian TV channel)
- The FBI Files, "Tracks of a Killer", on the Biography Channel (2003)
Reséndiz was the focus of the December 11, 2010, episode of 48 Hours Mystery (CBS), "Live to Tell: The Railroad Killer", in which Holly Dunn shared the story of her attack and the murder of Christopher Maier. That incident was also shown on the television show Dates from Hell.
One episode of Criminal Minds, "Catching Out", featured a serial killer named Armando Ruis Salinas, who appears to have been based on Reséndiz. Like Reséndiz, he was a Hispanic drifter who traveled by railroad and killed most of his victims by bludgeoning them.
Reséndiz was the subject of a series of 16 podcasts released between October 2018 and February 2019 by British journalist Alex Hannaford and produced by Peter Sale of AudioBoom entitled Dead Man Talking. Hannaford interviewed Reséndiz on tape in 2003 when Reséndiz said he had committed many more murders than those mentioned in his trial and that innocent people were in jail for his crimes.
- "Case Details". Hcdistrictclerk.com. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
- Items seized could aid railway killings probe, CNN.org. January 30, 1999; accessed January 21, 2018. web|url=http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/notorious/resendez/track_1.html%7Ctitle=Angel Maturino Resendiz: The Railroad Killer — Terror Near the Tracks — Crime Library|accessdate=December 23, 2014|deadurl=yes|archiveurl=https://web.archive.org/web/20150103131128/http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/notorious/resendez/track_1.html%7Carchivedate=January 3, 2015}}
- "Infamous 'Railroad Killer' faces execution for multiple slayings - Lubbock Online - Lubbock Avalanche-Journal". Lubbockonline.com. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
- "The Rafael Resendez-Ramirez Case: A Review of the INS's Actions and the Operation of Its IDENT Automated Fingerprint Identification System". US Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General. Retrieved November 19, 2014.
- ""'Railroad Killer' faces execution"". Archived from the original on June 30, 2006. Retrieved June 30, 2006. Cite uses deprecated parameter
|deadurl=(help)CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). CNN. Tuesday June 27, 2006.
- "Case File 76UFTX". The Doe Network. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
- "Angel Maturino Resendiz #1028". Clarkprosecutor.org. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
- "The end of the line". Ocala.com. Archived from the original on July 27, 2006. Retrieved December 23, 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "Judge says killer sane enough for execution". Onlineathens.com. Archived from the original on December 13, 2017. Retrieved January 21, 2018. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "FOXNews.com - 'Railroad Killer'Still Pains Ill. Town". Foxnews.com. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
- BABINECK, MARK. "Resendiz gets death - Lubbock Online - Lubbock Avalanche-Journal". Lubbockonline.com. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
- "Watchdog group questions worth of the Heartland Flyer". Ble.org. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
- "Resendiz, Angel Maturino Archived September 27, 2011, at the Wayback Machine." Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
- Angel Maturino Resendiz Archived September 29, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
- Railroad Killer, CNN[dead link]
- "US 'railroad killer' put to death." BBC. Wednesday June 28, 2006. Retrieved on May 20, 2010.
- Aguiar, Lourdes (September 2, 2017). "Live to Tell: The Railroad Killer". CBS News, Forty Eight Hours. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
- Hannaford, Alex (October 2, 2018). "Dead Man Talking: The Tape and 15 other episodes". AudioBoom. Retrieved February 25, 2019.
- The Rafael Resendez-Ramirez Case: A Review of the INS's Actions and the Operation of Its IDENT Automated Fingerprint Identification System (March 20, 2000) - U.S. Department of Justice
- Texas Department of Criminal Justice profile of Angel Maturino Resendiz - Angel Maturino Resendiz's last words.
- Geringer, Joseph. "ANGEL MATURINO RESENDEZ: THE RAILROAD KILLER". Crime Library. Archived from the original on July 31, 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter
|dead-url=(help); Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
|publisher=(help) - Alternate link
- "In letter, railroad killer ties self to Florida slayings". Associated Press. June 9, 2000. Archived from the original on December 29, 2004. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- PolkOnline article about Reséndiz's admissions
- Railroad Killer returns to Houston
- Execution date set for man known as 'railroad killer'
- 'Railroad Killer' Suspected In San Antonio Cold Murder Case
- 'Railroad Killer' faces execution
- Article by the International Justice Project re Reséndiz's mental health