Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Angel Maturino Resendiz: The Railroad Killer

Suspicious Angel

The manhunt for Resendiz involved more than the physical knocking on locked doors and pacing through dusty freight yards. As with any manhunt the FBI conducts, a lot of time is spent getting to know the type of man or woman for whom it is searching. This includes studying the culprit's criminal background, social history and psychoses.

Resendiz had a long record of criminal enterprises before the series of known murders began in 1997 "He probably started killing somewhere in his late 20s," remarks John Douglas, who as a former FBI agent, spent many hours pursuing other Resendezes (Resendiz was listed as Resendez-Ramirez on the wanted poster). "He may have killed people like himself initially — males, transients." Continuously being sent back to Mexico by U.S. deportation officers who found him in this country illegally, he "became angry at the population at large. What America represents here is this wealthy country where he keeps getting kicked out...(he) just can't make ends meet. Coupled with these feelings, these inadequacies, fueled by the fact that he's known to take alcohol, take drugs, lowers his inhibitions now to go out and kill."

Angel Resendiz (aka Rafael Resendez-Ramirez)
Angel Resendiz (aka
Rafael Resendez-

In the FBI's possession is a birth certificate listing Resendiz as having been born on August 1, 1960 in Izucar de Matomoros in the state of Puebla, Mexico. His mother, Virginia de Maturino, claims the real spelling of his surname is Recendis, not Resendiz, which he uses. She admits that her son spent his formative years not with her, but with another family that seemed to lack proper guidance. And homosexuals in Puebla may have sexually abused him, she says.

Virtually an orphan, Resendiz roamed the streets as a child, without a real family role model. The FBI has identified a sister in Albuquerque, New Mexico and other relatives both south and north of the border. Relatives in the U.S. have migrated as far north as the Great Lakes and as far east as Vermont.

Angel Resendiz first came to the attention of the U.S. Justice Department at age 16 when he was caught in Brownsville, TX, trying to cross the border from Mexico in 1976. "He was deported two months later," says the Dallas/Forth Worth Internet Service, "the first of...numerous run-ins with U.S. authorities." In 1988, he briefly lived in St. Louis where "he registered with a temporary agency and worked a half-day at a manufacturing company (and) voted in two elections under an assumed name".

Resendiz' criminal life in the United States, as well as his ability to escape long-term punishment here, reads like a bad novel. After his first deportation in August 1976, he returned to the U.S. a month later where INS agents located him in Sterling Heights, MI., and yet again in October, this time in McAllen, Texas. Then he quieted for a spell.

No one knows when he slipped back into this country, but in September of 1979, he was sentenced to a 20-year prison term for auto theft and assault in Miami, Florida. Luck on his side, he was paroled within six years and released onto Mexican soil.

But, the drifter drifted quite actively. Over the next decade, Resendiz was

  • apprehended and tried in Texas for falsely claiming citizenship, for which he did an 18-month prison stint (1986);
  • was arrested for possessing a concealed weapon in New Orleans, receiving an 18-month sentence, but paroled after a year (1988);
  • earned a 30-month sentence for attempting to defraud Social Security in St. Louis (1988);
  • pleaded guilty to burglary charges in New Mexico, a crime that gained him an 18-month prison term, though again he was paroled after a year (1992); and
  • was apprehended in a Santa Fe rail yard for trespassing and carrying a firearm (1995).

For the last infraction he was again deported. In fact, after every incarceration — and in between them — he was dumped across the border so many times that he resembled a boomerang.

Two years after the last recorded deportation, he materialized in Kentucky to kill Christopher Maier.


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