Shootings top 2017 New Britain crime stories

Published on Thursday, 28 December 2017 22:47
Written by LISA BACKUS


A guilty plea by the man considered the state’s most prolific serial killer and two men who fled after two separate bursts of domestic violence dominated headlines in 2017.

Violent robberies

A string of violent robberies late in the year also had an impact on residents and police.

Five officers were placed on desk duty following the shooting of three suspects believed to be involved in the robberies.

The state police are investigating.

One of the suspects died in the shootings, another two were wounded. The three are believed to have been terrorizing motorists by robbing them at gunpoint throughout the city. No one has been charged in the robberies as of Dec. 20.

William Devin Howell

William Devin Howell, the Virginia drifter charged in 2015 by New Britain police with the murders of six people whose remains were found behind a Hartford Road plaza in 2007 and 2015 admitted to the crimes in September.

The move shocked family members and court officials who expected Howell would take the case to trial.

The six victims, Diane Cusack, Mary Jane Menard, Joyvaline Martinez, Danny Lee Whistnant, Melanie Ruth Camilini and Marilyn Gonzalez, and a seventh woman, Nilsa Arizmendi, all disappeared in 2003.

Martinez was a beloved daughter, sister and aunt who enjoyed wrestling with her young nephews. Mary Jane Menard was a mother and substance abuse counselor who helped many people in the New Britain area. Diane Cusack was a sister and cousin.

The remains of the three women were found in 2007 after a man looking for a place to hunt found what appeared to be bones from a human skeleton behind the plaza. The discovery touched off an investigation that spanned more than a decade.

Howell was serving a 15-year prison sentence in Arizmendi’s disappearance when he was charged in the murders of the other six victims. During his sentencing in November, family members tearfully explained how the disappearance and the confirmation of the death of their loved ones had impacted their lives since 2003.

Howell was sentenced to 360 years in prison after apologizing to the court and saying he had no explanation as to why he committed the murders.

Jermaine Scott

Felon Jermaine Scott touched off a massive manhunt in late March after he allegedly shot his girlfriend and her two children during an early morning argument.

The shooting occurred in the couple’s home on Newington Avenue which abuts a local elementary school.

Police locked down the area with anxious parents walking their children to class with armed officers nearby.

The woman and her two children were seriously injured.

Scott fled, leading police to search several locations throughout the state as the weeks wore on. He was finally captured with the help of U.S. Marshals in September.

He had been on the lam for 166 days before he was caught. He is now facing attempted murder charges.

Patrick Miles

Just days after Scott allegedly shot his girlfriend, Patrick Miles killed his wife Yasheeka and then fled the state with their two-year-old daughter prompting an Amber Alert.

Miles dropped the child off at a relative’s house in New York. The relative saw the Amber Alert on Facebook and called police. Yasheeka Miles had left her husband and was trying to build a better life when she was killed, relatives said. Miles was found a few days later at a home in Springfield, Massachusetts. He has been charged with his wife’s murder.

Investigations continue

New Britain police also investigated the murder of a Hartford man who was shot when he stepped outside while attending a birthday party on Park Street in August and the murder of Willie Woodson on Tremont Street in September. No suspects have been arrested in those cases. Police did charge a Tremont Street man with murder in a stabbing death that occurred in November.

Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or m.

Posted in New Britain Herald, New Britain on Thursday, 28 December 2017 22:47. Updated: Thursday, 28 December 2017 22:50.