Railroad killer survivor, UK alumna visits UK to talk about hope in tragedy

Shelby Helton

The sole survivor of the “infamous railroad killer” returned to her alma mater on Thursday to talk about hope and inspiration.

Holly K. Dunn, one of the victims and the only known survivor of the Railroad Killer, Angel Maturino Resendiz, spoke at Gatton Kincaid Auditorium about her book, “Sole Survivor: The Inspiring True Story of Coming Face to Face with the Infamous Railroad Killer.”

After undergoing the tragedy of being attacked by the nicknamed Railroad Killer, Dunn graduated from UK in 2000 and started helping sexual assault victims and victims of intimate crimes.

Dunn started Holly’s House in 2008, a nonprofit local sexual abuse and domestic violence advocacy center in her hometown of Evansville, Indiana.

In August of 1997, Dunn and her boyfriend, Chris Maeir, attended a party on UK’s campus. But she said it was “kind of lame and boring” and wanted to take a break, so she decided to take a walk with her Maeir among the railroad tracks.

They were down at the railroad tracks and were talking and drinking a little, then they decided to head back to the party. But when they passed a small electrical box, a man appeared and started asking for money—Dunn said he was pretending to be a homeless man. Dunn recalled that they told the man that they didn’t have any money and that they were poor college kids.  

Then everything went sour, Dunn said. The man, Resendiz, had a weapon on Maeir the entire time. Dunn said she couldn’t remember if it was an ice pick, a screwdriver or a knife. Resendiz went through Chris’s backpack and even tied him up with it, then proceeded to tie Dunn’s hand up with her belt. Then he tried to gag Dunn, but she stuck her tongue out so it didn’t work. During this time, the attacker kept going from the tracks to the grass, where Dunn and Maeir were.

Dunn said that she and Maeir kept exchanging looks with each other and whispering, trying to strategize how to get out of it and get away from this man.

“I remember looking at Chris and saying, Okay should I run, can you get untied? But Chris was so tied up in the backpack and couldn’t get untied. So, he just told me ‘If you can get yourself untied, get away and run away,’” Dunn said.

Then Resendiz came over and killed Maeir, Dunn said. She said her survival mode then kicked in and she fought Resendiz as much as she could. She said that she tried to remember every detail about the man while he was attacking her– any scars, any tattoos, anything to help her identify him later if she made it through. And she did.

“He knocked me unconscious after hitting me multiple times. I woke up, and I realized he was gone. So I got up and realized that my mouth wouldn’t close right and that I was really, really, hurt. And then I walked about 200 yards,” Dunn recalled.

A UK senior at the time, Chad Goetz, saw Dunn walking and noticed that she was covered in blood from head to toe. He didn’t know what happened and where she came from, but he knew that she was going to die if she didn’t get help.

Dunn’s injuries were so severe she was in the hospital for several days. She suffered a broken eye socket, a broken jaw and cuts to her head and face. She couldn’t attend Maeir’s funeral, which she said upset her. She said she wanted to help the police catch the man that did this to them.

Dunn told the police every detail she could about Resendiz, and eventually they caught him in 1999 in Texas. Dunn testified against Resendiz at his trial. During Resendiz’s murder spree, he killed over 15 people in the United States and 7 others in Mexico. He was executed on June 27, 2006, in Huntsville, Texas by lethal injection.

Dunn’s book about her experience was published this year. It is available on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

Her website can be visited here.