Thursday, June 24, 1999

Suspect in killings is disguise master

The Associated Press

        HOUSTON — The railroad drifter wanted in connection with eight killings is a master of disguise, changing names and Social Security numbers and using glasses and facial hair to hide his identity over the years, investigators say.

        They are puzzled as to what may have driven Rafael Resendez-Ramirez from burglary to a multistate killing spree.

        “It's almost as if he woke up some day and snapped,” said West University Police Sgt. Ken Macha, who is investigating one of the killings. “There's no clear progression of violence.”

        The ex-convict, thought to be 38, is wanted in connection with five killings in Texas, two in Illinois and one in Kentucky.

        On Wednesday, the FBI said Mr. Resendez-Ramirez was in Louisville as recently as Friday.

        All of the slayings took place near railroad tracks, and most victims were bludgeoned. Finger prints have tied Mr. Resendez-Ramirez to some of the killings.

        Investigators are not sure of the motive for the killings, though items were stolen in several cases.

        Authorities said they're not even sure Resendez-Ramirez is his real name. His description on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List includes 30 aliases.

        “He's a master of disguise,” said Luisa Aquino, an INS spokeswoman in Houston.

        Mr. Resendez-Ramirez has been arrested as many as 10 times from coast to coast. But most of his history involves burglary and trying to illegally obtain or use American identification.

        The FBI said he is a native of Puebla, Mexico, 5-foot-7 and about 150 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He has scars on his right ring finger, left wrist and forehead, a snake tattoo on his left arm. Sometimes he has worn a mustache; other times he's clean-shaven. Sometimes he wears glasses; sometimes he doesn't.

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