Texas Hunts for Rail-Side Killer

HOUSTON -- Investigators searched for clues yesterday to the whereabouts of a Mexican drifter alleged to be a serial killer with a taste for riding the rails.

Police in the United States and Mexico were looking for Rafael Resendez Ramirez, who has been linked to six deaths in Texas and one in Kentucky, all brutal beatings that took place near railroad tracks.

"Right now he is the most wanted man in Texas," said Texas Department of Public Safety Director Dudley Thomas.

Resendez, believed to be in his thirties and a native of Puebla, Mexico, is thought to be crisscrossing Texas by hopping eastbound freight trains, then heading back west toward the Mexican border in cars stolen from victims of his alleged killings.

On Saturday, police in the border city of Del Rio, Tex., found a 1993 Honda that belonged to Noemi Dominguez, a 26-year-old schoolteacher beaten to death in her rail-side Houston home June 5.

Resendez first came to the attention of police in December, when a Houston woman was found beaten and stabbed to death in her home near a railroad track. Her stolen car was discovered later in San Antonio, 200 miles west. On it was a fingerprint belonging to Resendez.

In May and early June, three people, including a pastor and his wife, were found bludgeoned to death in Weimar, Tex., which sits beside the main railroad track between Houston and San Antonio. Resendez's fingerprint was found in the home of one of the victims, 73-year-old Josephine Konvicka, police said.

That was followed by Dominguez's slaying. Police now also believe Resendez may have killed a university student in Kentucky who was fatally beaten while walking along a railroad track with his girlfriend in August 1997 and a Luling, Tex., man who was clubbed to death in his home in November.


HICKMAN, Ky. -- A car ran off a bridge and landed upside-down in a creek Saturday, killing the driver, Maurice Tucker, 56, and all four of his passengers.

MIAMI -- Tropical Storm Arlene, the first of the season, built to 60 mph winds before slowing to 50 mph as it spun over the Atlantic 400 miles east-southeast of Bermuda. The storm poses no immediate threat to land but could menace Bermuda or curve away from it, forecasters said.

PONTIAC, Mich. -- The allure of a car and other prizes proved enough to win more than 70 curious fugitives free lodging in Oakland County's jail. Some of the county's most elusive criminals, including probation violators and other felons, received notices that a set of free Silverdome tickets, a television and possibly a car were waiting at the stadium as part of a random drawing Saturday -- but they had to be present to win. When they arrived, they were arrested.

LAKE FOREST, Calif. -- Sheriff's deputy Brad Riches was shot repeatedly with an assault rifle outside a convenience store early Saturday, and authorities arrested Maurice Gerald Steskal, 39, for the crime a few hours later. Steskal had an AK-47 under his arm when he bought a pack of cigarettes at the store before walking out and allegedly shooting Riches, who police said was killed before being able to draw his gun.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- A firecracker buff playing with a homemade pipe bomb started a wildfire in northeast Florida last year that raged for a week, destroying 20 homes and damaging 18 others, authorities said. Kevin Byrd Hill, 47, was charged Friday with igniting the fire that raked neighboring Flagler County's Seminole Woods subdivision, the first blaze during a catastrophic fire season. Prosecutors and Hill said the fire was an accident.