Robert Howard: Convicted rapist, child-killer and self-named 'Wolfhill Werewolf' 'linked with up to six missing women'
Robert Howard died in prison on Friday afternoon
A child-killer and rapist who was suspected over the unsolved disappearance of an Irish schoolgirl has died in prison.
It is believed Robert Howard could be connected to the disappearance of up to six women, including two high-profile cases in Ireland.
Robert Howard was last seen with Arlene Arkinson (15), from Castlederg, Co Tyrone, before she vanished after a night out at a disco across the border in Co Donegal in August 1994.
Howard was the prime suspect in the case but was later acquitted of her murder. The trial jury was unaware of his history of sex attacks and his conviction for strangling London teenager Hannah Williams in 2001.
It is believed Howard's history of sex attacks and suspected murders stretches over 40 years, since he was first convicted of burglary at the age of 13. The 71-year-old called himself the 'Wolfhill Werewolf'.
At the age of 19, Howard was convicted in the UK of trying to have sex with a six0year-old girl after he entered her room pretending to be a doctor. He was sentenced to nine days in a UK institution.
In 1973, he was convicted of robbing and repeatedly raping a 58-year-old woman in her Cork home during a terrifying five-hour ordeal.
In 1991, Howard kidnapped a 22-year-old woman and held her hostage for three weeks in Co Tyrone. The woman was repeatedly raped and abused throughout her ordeal. During the trial of Arlene, police became aware of the incident which occurred six years earlier but the victim was too traumatised to testify.
It is also reported that Howard kidnapped a 16-year-old girl and kept her in his flat in Co Tyrone for three days in 1993. The girl is understood to have known Arlene, who vanished a year later.
Again, this victim could not give evidence and Howard received a suspended sentence.
He was finally jailed for life in 2003 for the murder of London teen Hannah Williams (14) in 2001.
He was in jail in Co Durham, England, and was due to give evidence at the re-ordered inquest into Arlene's death before his death in jail.
Despite 92 searches and a long-running missing persons investigation, Arlene's body has never been recovered.
It is understood Howard travelled between Ireland and the UK throughout his life after leaving Mountjoy Prison for the rape of the 58-year-old Cork woman in 1981. He lived in Monaghan, Letterkenny, Wexford and areas in Dublin including Coolock, Ranelagh and Clondalkin.
Police in both the UK and Ireland believe Howard could be linked with the disappearance of up to six women, including high-profile cases in Ireland.
He was not recorded on the Sex Offenders Register in Ireland because his convictions occurred before the list was drawn up as part of the Sex Offenders Act 2001.
Howard is believed to have died from natural causes.