Angel Maturino Reséndiz, aka "The Railway Killer" (August 1, 1960 – June 27, 2006), was an itinerant Mexican serial killer responsible for as many as thirty murders across the United States and Mexico during the 1990s. Some also involved sexual assault. He became known as "The 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. He was 39 years old.
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 given on his birth certificate from Izúcar de Matamoros, Puebla, Mexico.
By jumping on and off trains both within and across Mexico, Canada and the United States, generally crossing borders illegally, Reséndiz was able to evade the authorities for a considerable time. He also had no fixed addresses.
Reséndiz killed as many as 15 people with rocks 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 in 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 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. In 1986, an unidentified homeless woman was shot four times with a .38-caliber weapon. 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. Resendiz stated that soon after killing the homeless woman, he shot and killed her boyfriend - a Cuban - 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. On July 19, 1991, the body of Michael White, 33, was found in the front yard of an abandoned downtown house. Reséndiz also confessed to this murder in September 2001. He 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. He was bludgeoned to death with a brick.
4 and 5. March 23, 1997, Ocala, Florida, Jesse Howell, 19 years old. He was bludgeoned to death with an air hose coupling and left beside the tracks. His fiancee Wendy Von Huben, 16 years old, was raped, strangled, suffocated with his hands and duct tape and buried in a shallow grave in Sumter County, Florida.
6. In July 1997, an unidentified transient was beaten to death with a piece of plywood in a rail yard located in the City of Colton, California. Colton Police detective Jack Morenberg worked non-stop to prove Reséndiz committed the crime but due to a lack of resources he was unable to do so. Reséndiz is still considered the prime suspect in this case.
7. August 29, 1997, Lexington, Kentucky, Christopher Maier, 21 years old. He was a University of Kentucky student walking along nearby railroad tracks with his girlfriend, Holly, when the two were attacked by Reséndiz, who bludgeoned Maier to death with a 52 pound rock. Reséndiz raped and severely beat Maier's girlfriend, who nearly died as a result. Holly Dunn Pendleton, the only known survivor, went to appear on the Biography channel television program "I Survived," and "48 Hours: Left for Dead"; and has had her story 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. She was hammered to death with an antique flat iron by Reséndiz, who entered through a window. Fifty yards outside her door was the Kansas City-Southern Rail line.
9. 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 after he entered her home, which is near the Union Pacific railroad tracks. Police found her Jeep Cherokee in San Antonio and found Reséndiz's fingerprints on the steering column. After the murder, Reséndiz had a warrant for his arrest for burglary, but not yet for murder. She was bludgeoned to death with a statue.
10 and 11. 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 also found in San Antonio three weeks later, and fingerprints link their case with the Claudia Benton case.
12. 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 pickax 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.
13. June 4, 1999, Fayette County, Texas, Josephine Konvicka, 73 years old. Konvicka was killed by the blow of the same pickaxe used to kill Noemi Dominguez on the head while she lay sleeping. Her farmhouse is not far from Weimar. Reséndiz attempted to steal the car but was unable to take it away since he could not find the car keys.
14 and 15. June 15, 1999, Gorham, Illinois, George Morber Senior, 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 a tire iron. Their house was located only 100 yards (90 m) away from a railroad line. Later, an onlooker saw a man matching Reséndiz's description driving Carolyn Frederick's red pickup truck in Cairo, Illinois, which is located 60 miles south of Gorham.
16. Reséndiz is suspected in the death of Fannie Whitney Byers, 81, who was found Dec. 10, 1998, bludgeoned to death in her Carl, Georgia home located near CSX Transportation railroad tracks with a tire rim. A Lexington couple was charged in this Barrow County murder, but Reséndiz admitted to an FBI agent that he killed Byers, according to authorities.
He confessed to seven other killings as well, which he said took place in Mexico.
Allan B. Polunsky Unit houses the State of Texas death row for men.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. (Manuela was originally reluctant to cooperate, but Carter convinced her otherwise.) 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 the 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 that "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 had the death warrant 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.
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."