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Items seized could aid railway killings probe

graphic  Map of crime trail

FBI wanted poster and information

CNN's Aram Roston reports on a Mexican border town's reaction to the search for the railway killings suspect (June 30)
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June 30, 1999
Web posted at: 10:59 a.m. EDT (1459 GMT)

In this story:

Union Pacific flooded with calls

Police: Suspect adept at slipping over border


HOUSTON (CNN) -- Investigators have taken jewelry and clothing from the Mexico home of suspected serial killer Rafael Resendez-Ramirez, and are trying to determine if the items are linked to eight slayings in three states.

Texas Ranger Sgt. Drew Carter said authorities were examining 100 pieces of jewelry, including rings, bracelets, earrings and watches, collected in Rodeo, Mexico, where Resendez- Ramirez has lived with his common-law wife, Julietta Dominguez, and their young daughter.

Also taken from the home during an interview last week with Dominguez were clothing worn by Resendez-Ramirez, his shoes, and a guitar.

Investigators are circulating photographs of the items to family members of the victims and police to see if they recognize something. Authorities said they don't believe Dominguez knew where the jewelry came from.

"We don't have a definite link to anything yet," Carter said. He said DNA testing was being done.

Resendez-Ramirez -- who is on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list -- is the focus of a U.S.-Mexico manhunt. The 38-year-old is a native of Mexico, but has spent two decades hopping freight trains around the United States. All the victims -- five in Texas, two in Illinois and one in Kentucky -- were killed in homes near railroad tracks.

He was charged with the murders in southern Illinois on June 15, and is wanted for questioning in the remaining six. Five of those killings have occurred in the past six months.

Investigators have been searching trains on a scale rarely seen in the United States this century.

"Our special agents haven't seen (such) a widespread investigation since the days of Jesse James," Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis told CNN.

Davis said hundreds of railroad police are patrolling Union Pacific's 36,000 miles of track across 23 states. About 2,000 trains a day -- each pulling an average of 72 rail cars -- travel along Union Pacific's tracks.

Virginia Recendis home
Virginia Recendis, the suspect's mother, lives in this home in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico  

Union Pacific flooded with calls

In recent weeks, following publicity on the hunt for Resendez-Ramirez, Union Pacific has "noticed a definite increase in calls coming in to us," Davis said.

"Usually we average about maybe a half dozen to a dozen (calls) a day from citizens or law enforcement agencies that have noticed trespassers. That's probably now up to at least eight times that amount," he said.

Resendez-Ramirez was born in Mexico on August 1, 1959, and was given the name Angel Leoncio Reyes Recendis, the FBI said Monday. He has used more than 30 aliases, four birth dates and four Social Security numbers, according to police.

He is also known by three identification numbers by the Immigration and Naturalization Service, which has had him in custody at least seven times.

Police: Suspect adept at slipping over border

Police in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, just across the border from Texas, said Resendez-Ramirez is adept at crossing back and forth over the boundary because he used to make his living by smuggling groups of undocumented Mexican immigrants into the United States.

The fugitive's mother, Virginia Recendis, lives in Juarez in a neighborhood called Patria.

Unlike the massive manhunt for Resendez-Ramirez in the United States, there are no wanted posters of him in sight in Ciudad Juarez or the state of Chihuahua, where the police say they have assigned only two agents to the case.

"There is a warrant out for his arrest. And if and when he is captured, he will be handed over to Interpol, which has the records for the extradition," said Alejandro Astudillo of the Chihuahua attorney general's office.

Some Ciudad Juarez residents say the allegations against Resendez-Ramirez pale in comparison with dozens of local murders that have gone unsolved for six years.

While many of the murders took place less than a mile from the home of Resendez-Ramirez's mother, local police say there is no evidence to link him to any of those cases. They say he has no criminal record in the town.

Correspondents Charles Zewe and Aram Roston contributed to this report.

Profiler: Suspected railway killer seems out of control
June 28, 1999
Mexican townspeople paint different picture of murder suspect
June 28, 1999
Calls swamp FBI after TV profile of railway murder suspect
June 27, 1999
Suspected killer's uncle: Wrong name used in manhunt
June 26, 1999
Immigration officials held railway killings suspect but let him go
June 25, 1999
How do serial killer suspects elude police?
June 24, 1999

Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • The FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives
The Serial Killer Info Site
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