Railway killer sought by FBI

ACROSS AMERICA, FBI agents are searching rail cars, and residents who live by the railway lines are nervously fingering their guns. A killer who is alleged to have murdered at least eight people is on the loose, and the railway is his chosen mode of transport.

Rafael Resendez-Ramirez is a drifter, one of thousands who ride the rails. The police suspect that he is responsible for at least eight murders in Texas, Kentucky and Illinois, each of which took place near the rail lines. On Monday the FBI put him on their Ten Most Wanted List, in the company of Osama bin Laden, the wealthy Saudi whom America accuses of last year's African embassy bombings, drug smugglers, murderers and other villains.

The FBI has taken more than a thousand calls from people who claimed to have information on his whereabouts, but has failed to turn up any solid leads. Operation Stop Train has so far turned up nothing beyond several illegal aliens.

The last murder linked to the suspect was in southern Illinois, where George Morber and his daughter, Carolyn Frederick, were murdered in their mobile home next to the Union Pacific rail line. "He's demonstrated he can use almost any kind of object to take a human life in a very violent manner," said Don K Clark, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Houston office and leader of a task force looking for the alleged killer.There is no apparent pattern to the killings and the motive remains unclear. "I wish I could tell you," said Mr Clark.

Resendez-Ramirez, 38, comes from Puebla in Mexico. He has criminal records in California, Florida and New Mexico on weapons and burglary charges. The first murder of which he was suspected was in 1997, but the pace has picked up. Seven people have been killed in the last seven months, and the FBI fears that unless he is found, Resendez-Ramirez will kill again.

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