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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Serial Killer Suspect's Suicidal Thoughts are Nothing New

Today The Hartford Courant reported that serial killer suspect William Devin Howell wrote to the newspaper on September 20, 2016, stating that he was suicidal in his current status as an inmate at Bridgeport Correctional. This is old news, to me.

In letters dating back to July 2015, Howell has repeatedly told me about his depression and despair. In our first phone call, on December 21, 2015, Howell ended by saying that he just wanted to close his eyes and never wake up again. The call was being recorded, and shortly thereafter, Howell was transferred from MacDougall-Walker CI in Suffield and put on suicide watch at Garner CI. Over the holidays, Howell was kept in solitary confinement wearing a Ferguson Gown, also known as a Turtle Suit. The nylon material of the garment cannot be tied into a noose for self-hanging. He wrote letters to me on a daily basis, using the ink cartridge of a pen. The outer plastic had been removed by the Department of Corrections (DOC) to prevent Howell from breaking it into a jagged instrument that could be used to slit his wrists.

Howell was transferred back to the protective custody unit at MacDougall-Walker CI about two weeks later. He was grateful to return to a cell with electricity, where he could have recreation time with other prisoners in that unit, and make food from the commissary in his hot pot. When I visited him, he voiced his depression but was careful to say that he had no plans to attempt suicide. He was, of course, aware that our calls were recorded by DOC, and he did not want to get sent back to the suicide watch unit at Garner. It was also important to him to have the proper lighting and a chair and desk in his cell in order to review legal documents provided to him by counsel.

Everything changed last month when Howell was transferred from Walker to Bridgeport CC. When I visited him a few weeks ago, I was dealing with a very different man than the one I met with a few times at Walker. In the past, he would get a bit get teary during our face to face discussions, but during the recent visit, the tears were flowing steadily down his face and he talked about committing suicide at every turn. The week before, Howell was on suicide watch at Bridgeport CC and though his desire to kill himself did not diminish, he was eventually released from suicide watch and put back in the protective custody cell.

There were a few things that kept Howell sane at Walker: a small television, a hot pot to cook with, proper lighting in his cell, a chair, a bed that was off the floor (not just a mattress on cement), and air conditioning. Bridgeport, in contrast, provides him with none of these amenities. Last week, Howell wrote to inform me that he had tried to kill himself by hanging but the attempt failed and he was left with only a sore neck. He was not placed in suicide watch after that failed attempt.

The readership comments to today's article in the Hartford Courant reflect the overall public sentiment towards Howell. If he is guilty of the crimes that he has been charged with committing, then that sentiment is warranted. That said, he remains innocent until proven guilty, and so has a right to a fair trial without killing himself beforehand. The Constitution says as much.

I will personally be very surprised if Howell can survive another two to three years until a trial takes place and verdicts are rendered. If anything keeps him alive, it will be the fact that it is surprisingly difficult to succeed in killing oneself in the present-day prison system. Petit home invasion murderer Joshua Komisarjevsky recently learned that lesson when he attempted to hang himself in a Pennsylvania prison. It is not easy to do when you have to use a bed frame or chair and willfully pull your body away until the choking process is complete.

What Howell did not tell the Courant in his September 20th letter is that his options for a transfer to another prison are slim. There are only three protective custody units in Connecticut. Howell was in the PC Unit at Walker but was transferred to the PC Unit at Bridgeport due to issues involving another prisoner. It appears that authorities may have been questioning the other prisoner about Howell. He cannot go to the protective custody unit at Cheshire CI, because the State's lead witness, inmate Jonathan Mills, is in that unit. The only place left for Howell to go is Northern CI, which does not have a protective custody unit, but has a special needs unit.

When someone is in prison, likely for life, little things mean everything: that extra bag of chips, or a favorite TV show to look forward to, or a bed that is raised from the ground and a cell temperature that is tolerable for sleeping. At Bridgeport CC, Howell has none of these things. It is ironic that the Supreme Court of Connecticut recently eliminated the death penalty, because Howell has repeatedly told me that he would be glad to die and have this nightmare over with. For those who think that the death penalty is the ultimate punishment, I beg to differ. Howell is living in his own personal hell right now.    

See The Hartford Courant's article, Who is Devin Howell. My upcoming book will share so much about this suspect, based on my ongoing written and face to face interviews with him. This novel/blog is a work in progress that contains substance and insight not contained within ordinary press reports.

3 comments:

  1. Devin killed 7 people, thank god he didn't kill my mom. He can suffer alittle or a lot lol the death penalty would be letting him off easy.

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  2. Juliana: I would like to speak with you further about Devin and your dealings with him in the past. Please send me your contact info in an email, if you are willing to do so: rosensteinandhoward@gmail.com. Thank you, and I am sorry that you had any connection to this matter in the first place.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think this trash needs to rot and should be glad he was not hunted down before being locked up. Motha* ***** lucky hes locked up.

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