Railway Killer suspect gives himself up to Texas Rangers

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A MEXICAN whose alleged killing spree in the US earned him the name of the Railway Killer turned himself in yesterday, after his family apparently persuaded him to surrender. He is believed to have been involved in at least eight killings, and perhaps dozens more.

Rafael Resendez-Ramirez walked across the border from Mexico at El Paso and surrendered to the Texas Rangers, accompanied by his brother. The Rangers had been in negotiations with his sister in New Mexico, her pastor and another relative in Mexico. The FBI had been in contact with his wife in Mexico, and she had made a public plea for him to turn himself in. The negotiations did not involve any guarantees on the death penalty, and Mr Resendez-Ramirez, if convicted, faces execution.

Over the past two years he is alleged to have killed eight people in Texas, Kentucky and Illinois, each close to a railroad line. Another killing in Hughes Springs, Texas, last October has also been linked to him, and police in Mexico believe he may be responsible for at least eight killings of young women in the border town of Juarez. There are other deaths from Florida to New Mexico that are being investigated. The motivation for the killings remains a mystery, as does much else about the suspect.

His real name is Angel Leoncio Reyes Recendis, according to his birth certificate, and he is 39. Resendez-Ramirez was just one of dozens of aliases he adopted, and it was the name the FBI used when it deemed him one of America's 10 most wanted fugitives. Once it had printed the posters, it stuck with it.

Mr Resendez Ramirez had been elevated to the level of a criminal genius by the US law enforcement authorities, because of his ability to slip in and out of the country at will and his use of many other names.

He had eluded an intense operation run by the Federal Bureau of Investigations that involved thousands of people. It also emerged that the Border Patrol had apprehended Mr Resendez-Ramirez after the killings began and let him go, because the guards were unaware of charges against him. Two days later a woman was killed near Houston.

The Railway Killer focused his attentions mainly on white middle-class people living in small rural communities.

He raided houses late at night, killing the residents with whatever weapons were at hand. Sometimes he sexually assaulted the victims and sometimes stole property. Jewellery from one of the victims was found at a house used by Mr Resendez-Ramirez in Rodeo, Mexico. And fingerprint evidence also tied him to the murders.

Mr Resendez-Ramirez was a drifter who rode the rails around America, working as a day-labourer. He had been repeatedly jailed in the US, for minor crimes and for assault and possession of weapons.

The fact that Mr Resendez-Ramirez is Mexican, and has been able to cross the border at will despite his criminal record, has helped nationalist politicians to make the case against illegal immigrants.

Pat Buchanan, a Republican and candidate for President, said: "Here's a character that's gone back and forth across the American border, illegally, for 23 years."