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Holly Dunn is the lone survivor of notorious serial killer Ángel Maturino Reséndiz, also known as the “Railroad Killer.”
On Aug. 28, 1997, during her junior year at the University of Kentucky, Holly Dunn and her boyfriend, Chris Maier, were attacked by the Railroad Killer as they walked along railroad tracks after a party.
The ‘Railroad Killer’
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The mugshot of serial killer Raphael Resendez-Ramirez, who was on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list. (Paul S. Howell/Getty Images)
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Harris County Sheriff Lt. J. Holden (L) escorts Angel Maturino Resendez, a Mexican drifter suspected of murdering at least eight people, from District Court 14 July 1999 in Houston, TX after meeting his attorney Allen Turner, (R). Texas authorities said they expected to file murder charges against the man known as Rafael Resendez-Ramirez pending the outcome of DNA testing. The suspect, who has used many aliases in the past, told the court 14 July that his real name was Angel Maturino Resendez. (DAVID J. PHILLIP/AFP via Getty Images)
Reséndiz was a Mexican serial killer and rapist who also went by the alias Rafael Resendez-Ramirez. Active in the 1990s, Reséndiz’s crime spree spanned multiple U.S. states, such as Texas, Kentucky and Illinois, and he was known for using the railways for transportation.
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He roamed the country by freight train and landed himself on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.
Reséndiz assaulted and killed Maier, but Dunn miraculously survived the attack despite being raped and severely beaten. “Holly faced a shattered jaw, enduring a month with her mouth wired shut, along with a fractured eye socket and numerous cuts to her face and head,” reads the Holly K. Dunn website.
When Reséndiz was arrested, Dunn was the star witness in his trial. On May 17, 1999, following 10 hours of deliberation, the jury found Angel Maturino Reséndiz guilty of first-degree, premeditated murder. Despite last-day appeals from his legal team, the Railroad Killer received a death sentence and was executed in 2006.
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Before his execution, Reséndiz said aloud, “I deserve what I am getting” and “Lord, forgive me. Lord, forgive me” before acknowledging his family watching through a window.
“I want to ask if it is in your heart to forgive me,” he said to the relatives of victims in another room. “You don’t have to. I know I allowed the devil to rule my life.”
“I thank God for having patience for me. I don’t deserve to cause you pain. You did not deserve this. I deserve what I am getting,” Reséndiz said.
Shortly before his execution on June 27, 2006, Reséndiz confessed to additional murders beyond the known nine at the time of the trial. Authorities linked him to at least 15 homicides across six states: Texas, Kentucky, Georgia, Illinois, Florida, and California.
Holly Dunn’s journey to healing
Holly Dunn, a survivor of a brutal assault by the notorious serial killer Ángel Maturino Reséndiz, dedicated her life to advocating for victims of sexual assault. (Holly K. Dunn website)
After surviving the brutal attack by the Railroad Killer, Dunn faced the daunting task of healing both physically and emotionally.
Instead of succumbing to the trauma, she became a vocal advocate for victims of violent crimes, sharing her story to raise awareness and support others who faced similar traumas. “As the victim of a violent attack, Holly knows the importance of staying safe and being aware at all times. She feels her personal story can help create awareness of potential dangers around us,” according to information on Holly K. Dunn’s website.
Through her advocacy work, she empowered survivors to find their voices and seek justice. She sheds light on the often-overlooked struggles faced by survivors and champions their right to healing and justice.
Holly Dunn’s legacy
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Through her advocacy work, Dunn empowered survivors to find their voices, seek justice, and shed light on the often-overlooked struggles faced by victims of sexual violence. (Holly K. Dunn website)
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Holly Dunn on a book tour for her memoir, ‘Sole Survivor’ in 2017. (Holly K. Dunn website)
Dunn’s story has made a significant impact on the true-crime genre and public awareness. Dunn’s experience has been featured in various true-crime documentaries, interviews and media coverage.
In her powerful memoir, “Sole Survivor,” Dunn shares a tale of resilience and recovery from a harrowing true crime. Detailing her survival of a brutal assault, she takes readers on a journey through justice, finding purpose, and dedicating herself to aiding victims of sexual assault and violent crimes. She also established Holly’s House, which is a secure and supportive haven for victims of sexual violence in Evansville, Indiana, her hometown.
Following the attack, Dunn went on to achieve a number of degrees in her life. “Dunn is a 2000 graduate of the University of Kentucky with a degree in Business Administration. She also earned a Masters of Business Administration degree in 2006 from the University of Southern Indiana and an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities from Oakland City University in 2007,” the Holly K. Dunn website reads.
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Dunn’s journey from a victim of the Railroad Killer to a survivor and advocate is a tale that captures the human spirit’s triumph over darkness. By sharing her harrowing experience, she became a prominent figure in discussions about criminal justice, victim advocacy and the psychological impact of trauma.
“Holly Dunn is a very gifted and articulate woman who has the strength to take what happened to her and transform it into something amazing!” says Carol Jordan, Director of the University of Kentucky Center for Research on Violence Against Women.