NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — Authorities investigating a possible serial killer said Monday that the remains of at least four more people have been found behind a strip mall where the partial skeletons of three women were discovered in 2007.
Police in New Britain also said they believe one person killed all seven victims. They did not release the suspect's name but said without elaborating that the person is not a danger to the public.
If that serial killing theory proves true, the case would rival that of Connecticut's most notorious serial killer, Michael Ross, who admitted slaying eight women and girls in Connecticut and New York in the 1980s and was put to death in 2005 in New England's first execution in decades.
One of the newly discovered victims has been identified as Melanie Ruth Camilini, a mother of two from Seymour, who was last seen in Waterbury in 2003. Authorities said they are still attempting to identify the others.
New Britain police Chief James Wardwell said on Monday that testing on the remains found behind the shopping center on April 28 showed they belonged to four new victims. Investigators have returned to the site annually, but a specially trained FBI dog helped locate the new victims.
The wooded area where the bodies were found is about 12 miles southwest of Hartford. The partial remains of Diane Cusack, Joyvaline Martinez and Mary Jane Menard were discovered by a hunter eight years ago in woods behind the strip mall.
The state has been offering a $150,000 reward, $50,000 in each cold case, for information leading to a conviction.
Wardwell has said Cusack, Martinez and Menard had substance abuse problems. All three women were last seen in the late summer or early fall of 2003 and were known to frequent the same downtown New Britain neighborhood.
Cusack, of New Britain, had been out of contact with her family for years and was never reported missing, police said.
Martinez was last seen in October 2003. Her family has said she was unemployed and was living with her mother, and relatives became concerned when she didn't show up for her birthday party.
Menard, of New Britain, was a substance abuse counselor who had a daughter serving oversees in the military when she disappeared that October, police said.
In a strange coincidence, the body of a teenage girl, Elizabeth Honsch, was found behind the strip mall in 1995. A week later, the body of her mother, Marcia Honsch, was found near an entrance to Tolland State Forest in western Massachusetts. Each had been shot in the head.
Police have said they don't believe those two killings are related to the cases of Cusack, Martinez and Menard.
Marcia Honsch's husband and Elizabeth Honsch's father, Robert Honsch, was charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty and awaits trial. Authorities say he killed his family and then started a new life and a new family.