48 Hours Live to Tell: The Railroad Killer

The lone survivor of a serial killer on a multi-state killing spree tells her story

The Railroad Killer 41:23

Last Updated Sep 9, 2011 8:28 PM EDT

Holly Dunn: I definitely feel like I have another opportunity at life. I wanna live it to the fullest.

I can't explain how this changes you. I'm a stronger person because of it. My whole life focus changed because of it. I'm a different person today because this happened. I knew that I had to heal physically first. And then I had to heal. I had to deal with Chris dying. I had to deal with myself almost dying. And then I had to deal with being raped.

Your brain works in amazing ways and it kind of sort of let me deal with each thing as I could.

In 1997, I met Jacob Pendleton at the outdoor store that I was working at. He was the first guy that I dated after the attack. And he just, like, reintroduced me to the world.

(Gets emotional) I don't think Jacob even knows like how much he helped me ... by just listening to me. There'd be days that I would literally cry to him. And, you know, be upset. And he would just listen to me. And, you know, really wouldn't judge me at all, which was great.

Heather Dunn Niemeier, Holly's sister: To see Holly happy, married is wonderful. She has led our family in how we have recovered from this and it could have gone a completely different way where our family was devastated by this, but instead, we are so happy for how she's led her life.

Holly Dunn: I started speaking about two years after the attack. To me it felt like part of my healing process to talk about it, and to cry about it and to be emotional, because for so long I had to kind of detach emotion from it...

When I was speaking, I didn't have to worry about that. I could work through my emotions and that really helped me in my healing process.

Being a survivor is one thing, but helping other survivors and knowing how to do that in a professional manner was another thing.

Holly's House is a child and adult advocacy center that provides a safe reporting location for victims of intimate crimes. It's a nonprofit center in Evansville, Ind. We opened on Sept. 2, 2008, and we have served over 300 victims since that time.

Holly's website
Learn more about Holly's House

Devon Anderson: Holly is a hero because she did not let what happened to her destroy her. But she did the opposite. She decided to make it her reason to live. Or her reason to help people.

Holly Dunn: It's important to me for victims to be supported. For them to know that they're not alone. That they're not going through what - what has happened to them alone. I get support through victims that come through Holly's House. I feel like through helping others they're helping me.

Det. Craig Sorrell, Lexington Police Dept.: This case for me has become one that I have looked back on many times. I keep a little bit of a reminder on my desk. A rock from our crime scene and a railroad spike that I got from down in Texas. ...Not so much as a reminder of the largest case I worked, but more a reminder that if you stick with a case and follow up on everything that you can be successful. So be determined. Don't give up.

I've stayed in touch with the victim, Holly, since it began. She's really just an amazing person individually. She is the model of survivor.

Holly Dunn: I remember Chris in a lot of ways. I like to keep things around me that remind me of him. I'm lucky enough to have my amazing husband and have Chris be a part of our lives.

I think to get over my survivor's guilt that I had, I had to know that I lived my life not just for me and not just for Chris. I'm living my life for all of Resendiz's victims, for all of them... And that I have to - or I want to - be the best person I can be and live the best life I can, because they didn't get that chance and I did. So I want to live for them. I want them to be remembered. ... and what I would want for them is to be proud of, you know, me.

By the time of his execution, Resendiz was linked to at least 15 murders in six states.

Authorities learned he killed a teenage couple in Florida just months before he attacked Chris and Holly.