Resendiz leads searchers to more remains Man convicted in Houston murder admits killing Florida teens in 1997

Sunday, July 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OXFORD, Fla. – Convicted serial killer Angel Maturino Resendiz led authorities Saturday to the skeletal remains of a teenage girl, a day after admitting to authorities that he killed her and her traveling companion three years ago.

Mr. Resendiz, 39, told Marion County sheriff's detectives during an interview in Texas that he killed a 19-year-old man, Jesse Howell, with a railroad air brake coupling and that he strangled Wendy Von Huben, 16, about eight hours later.

Mr. Howell's body was found on March 23, 1997, on tracks running through Belleview – a central Florida town about halfway between Tampa and Jacksonville.

On Saturday, a search team following Mr. Resendiz's directions found skeletal remains wrapped in a blanket and camouflage jacket about 15 miles to the south.

DNA taken from Wendy's family will be compared to the remains to help identify the body, Major Patti Lumpkin said.

Mr. Resendiz told Major Lumpkin and Detective Jeff Owens that the two teenagers were the first of 11 people he has admitted to killing in Florida, Texas, Illinois and Kentucky. Most of the killings took place on or near railroad tracks.

Mr. Resendiz was sentenced to death in Texas two months ago for the 1998 murder of a Houston-area physician.

The Mexican drifter became the prime suspect in the Florida slayings early this year after Detective Owens sent him a letter inquiring about Mr. Howell's death and Wendy's disappearance. In a return letter, Mr. Resendiz said he killed a man and teenage girl and gave investigators information about the slayings.

Mr. Resendiz told investigators he believed the couple were anti-Christians, Major Lumpkin said.

He said he met Mr. Howell and Wendy on March 21, 1997, the day of Mr. Howell's killing, at a switching station near Jacksonville. The couple decided to catch a ride with Mr. Resendiz in a grain car to find work picking oranges.

Mr. Resendiz said that he and Mr. Howell left the car when the train stopped at a switching station and that he killed him with a broken air brake coupling, a 3-foot-long rubber hose with brass fittings on each end. He said he returned to the car, and after several miles, ordered Wendy out. Then, he said, he strangled the teen, wrapped her in a blanket and clothes and covered her body with leaves.