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|
Ángel Leoncio Reyes Recendis|
August 1, 1959
Izúcar de Matamoros, Puebla, Mexico
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), aka The Railroad Killer/The Railway Killer/The Railcar Killer, was an itinerant Mexican 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 Mexican birth certificate. He was born in Izúcar de Matamoros, Puebla, Mexico. Reséndiz was in the United States illegally.
Murders and methodology
By illegally jumping on and off trains both within and across Mexico, Canada and the United States, generally crossing borders illegally, Reséndiz was able to evade authorities for a considerable time. He also had no fixed address. While in Las Cruces, New Mexico area he would often use the Maturino name to get help from unsuspecting friends of the Maturino family. Unaware of his criminal background, the friendly people would help him with food and money. It was not until he was captured that the southern New Mexico Maturino family realized he was a crook and vicious criminal. They were furious with the FBI that the man in question was their relative and requested to use his true last name, Reséndiz. Maturino educators in California were taken by surprise when they were quoted news articles saying in school settings, "One of your relatives, Maturino, the railroad killer was captured." It was later known that he had taken the identity of scholars who had graduated from USC and other universities and used their achievements as his own. US government records show that he had been deported to Mexico at least four times since first entering the US in 1973.
Reséndiz killed at least 15 people with rocks, a pick axe, 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 things and laid out the victims' driver's licenses to learn a bit about the lives he had taken. He stole jewelry and other items and gave them to his wife and mother 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/capture. Money, however, was sometimes left at the scene. He raped some of his female victims; rape served as a secondary intent. Most of his victims were found covered with a blanket or otherwise obscured from immediate view.
1. 1986, Bexar County, Texas, an unidentified woman. The woman was shot four times with a .38-caliber weapon, and her body was 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. 1986, Bexar County, Texas, an unidentified man. Reséndiz stated that soon after killing the homeless woman, he shot and killed her boyfriend and dumped his body in a creek somewhere between San Antonio and Uvalde. Reséndiz said that he killed the man because he 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. July 19, 1991, San Antonio, Texas, Michael White, 22 years old. Police found White's body in the front yard of an abandoned downtown house. Reséndiz also confessed to this murder in September 2001, and drew a map of the crime scene and said that he killed White because he was homosexual. Police concluded in April 2006 that Reséndiz did in fact kill White, who was bludgeoned to death with a brick.
4 and 5. March 23, 1997, Ocala, Florida, Jesse Howell, 19 years old. Howell was bludgeoned to death with an air hose coupling and left beside the railroad tracks. His fiancee Wendy Von Huben, 16 years old, was raped, strangled, suffocated manually and with duct tape, and buried in a shallow grave in Sumter County, Florida.
6. July 1997, Colton, California, an unidentified man. The still-unidentified transient was beaten to death with a piece of plywood in a rail yard. Reséndiz is considered the prime suspect in this case.
7. August 29, 1997, Lexington, Kentucky, Christopher Maier, 21 years old. Maier was a University of Kentucky student walking along nearby railroad tracks with his girlfriend, 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" and "48 Hours: Live To Tell" and the ID channel series "Dates From Hell" (episode 8, "A Killer Night"), and her story was told in the UK newspaper The Guardian. Currently she helps other victims of rape, sexual assault, and crime. She also founded "Holly's House" in her native Evansville, Indiana to benefit those victims of rape, sexual assault, and crime as well as working closely with RAINN.
8. October 4, 1998, Hughes Springs, Texas, Leafie Mason, 81 years old. Mason was beaten to death with an antique flat iron by Reséndiz, who entered through a window. The Kansas City-Southern Rail line was fifty yards (45 m) outside her door.
9. December 10, 1998, Carl, Georgia, Fannie Whitney Byers, 81 years old. Reséndiz is suspected in the death of Byers, who was found bludgeoned to death with a tire rim in her home, which was located near CSX Transportation railroad tracks. A Lexington couple was charged in this Barrow County murder, but Reséndiz admitted to an FBI agent that he killed Byers, according to authorities.
10. December 17, 1998, West University Place, Texas, Claudia Benton, 39 years old. Benton, a pediatric neurologist at the Baylor College of Medicine, 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 and 12. May 2, 1999, Weimar, Texas, Norman J. Sirnic, 46 years old, and Karen Sirnic, 47 years old. The Sirnics were bludgeoned to death by 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 the Claudia Benton murder.
13. June 4, 1999, Houston, Texas, Noemi Dominguez, 26 years old. Dominguez, a schoolteacher at Houston Independent School District's Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, was bludgeoned to death with a pickaxe in her apartment near the rail tracks. Seven days later, her white Honda Civic was discovered by state troopers on the International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas.
14. June 4, 1999, Fayette County, Texas, Josephine Konvicka, 73 years old. Konvicka was killed while sleeping in her farmhouse near Weimar (where the Sirnics were murdered) by a blow to the head from the same pickaxe used to kill Noemi Dominguez. Reséndiz attempted to steal Konvicka's car but could not find the car keys.
15 and 16. June 15, 1999, Gorham, Illinois, George Morber, Sr., 80 years old, and Carolyn Frederick, 52 years old. Reséndiz shot George Morber in the head with a shotgun and then clubbed Carolyn Frederick to death with the same shotgun. Their house was located only 100 yards (90 m) away from a railroad track. Later police found Morber's red pickup truck in Cairo, Illinois, which is 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.
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 feared that her brother might kill someone else or be killed by the FBI, so she agreed to help the police. 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 his (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 couldn't be executed because he didn't believe he could die.
Statements like the above have led specialists to conclude that Reséndiz was not competent to be executed. In the words of a bilingual psychiatrist who evaluated Reséndiz on two occasions in 2006, "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 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.
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- 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
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