The Summer of ’99: Remembering the Terror of The Railroad Killer [Video]
I remember the Summer of '99 vividly. I was working in the News Department here at WBKR/WOMI and there was no bigger, or more terrifying news story, than that of Rafael Resendez-Ramirez, who was better known by the nickname "The Railroad Killer." Resendez-Ramirez was among the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives and was the subject of a nationwide manhunt that weaved in and out of Texas, Illinois and Kentucky. And rumors were swirling that he was spotted in Owensboro.
Kentuckians were made all too aware of Rafael Resendez-Ramirez two years before. It was August 29th, 1997 that The Railroad Killer claimed a victim in Kentucky. Christopher Maier was a student at the University of Kentucky. One night, he and his girlfriend, Holly Dunn of Evansville, Indiana, went for a walk along the train tracks near campus in Lexington. It was there they came face to face with a serial killer. Maier was beaten to death with a 52-pound rock. His girlfriend Holly was attacked too. She was raped, severely beaten and left for dead. Miraculously, somehow, she survived. But leads in the case wouldn't lead to capture and Rafael Resendez-Ramirez would continue his reign of railroad terror, claiming additional victims (both in Texas) in the Fall of '98.
But it was the Summer of '99 that he became more prolific in his kills and authorities started to close in on his tracks. The FBI launched a major manhunt and officially added Resendez-Ramirez to its Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List on June 21st of that year. From May 2nd of 1999 to June 15th, Resendez-Ramirez claimed six more victims- 4 in Texas, 2 in Illinois. While he suddenly appeared to be on an accelerated hunt, authorities were as well and were combing leads in multiple states. Among those states, Illinois and Kentucky.
In fact, reports suggested that Resendez-Ramirez was spotted at homeless shelter in Louisville, Kentucky that June. It was around this time that rumors surfaced that he had also been spotted at a shelter in Owensboro. Tensions were brewing and rail communities were advised to be on constant, high alert. And they were. We were. There were updates to this case every single day- new alleged sightings, new leads in the case, but, thankfully, no additional victims.
The FBI finally tracked down Resendez-Ramirez through cooperation with his sister. He surrendered to authorities near El Paso, Texas. On June 27th, 2006, Rafael Resendez-Ramirez . . . who was actually Angel Maturino Resendiz . . . was executed by lethal injection in Huntsville, Texas. He was linked to 16 murders in the U.S. and confessed to seven additional murders in Mexico. His reign of railroad terror claimed victims in Texas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Kentucky.
The only known survivor of The Railroad Killer, Holly Dunn Pendleton, opened Holly's House in Evansville, Indiana and remains committed to helping victims of rape, sexual assault and crime. Her amazing, yet harrowing account of her encounter with evil is featured in this documentary.