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Sole Survivor of the Infamous Railroad Killer in Northern Michigan sharing her story

The only survivor of the railroad killer who was linked to at least 20 murders in four states is in Northern Michigan.

Holly K Dunn was attacked 26 years ago when she was a college student. Her boyfriend was killed in the brutal attack, but she survived.

Years later, she discovered her attack was linked to several others and she was the only victim to survive the attacker who was named the railroad killer because of the location where many of the attacks occurred.


Holly K. Dunn said the terrifying and brutal attack happened while she was a student at the University of Kentucky back in 1997.

She and her boyfriend were walking on the railroad tracks a few blocks away from a party they had been at.

“A man approached us, and he ended up tying us up and gagging us. He ended up killing my boyfriend with a 52 lb. rock. And then he came over to me and he raped, beat and stabbed me and tried to kill me.,” said Dunn.

Dunn said the injuries she sustained left her recovering in the hospital for five days with her jaw set to fix it.


“I had a broken eye socket, a broken jaw. I had numerous cuts on my face from the board that he hit me with scratches on my face, and I think I put my hand up to block it because my hand was swollen. And then I have five or six spots in the back of my head that had to be stapled shut,” said Dunn.

She said the killer left her for dead, but she eventually got up and went for help.

“I don’t remember getting up to walk to a house to get help. I just remember I kept saying, ‘my friend’s still out there, my friend’s still out there’, meaning my boyfriend, who I think I knew at the time that he had passed away, but I wanted to make sure they got him help if he needed it,” said Dunn.

Dunn said it wasn’t until two years later that she discovered that her attack was linked to other attacks in Texas, Kentucky, Illinois and Florida.


“They gathered DNA, and they actually matched the DNA from other cases and really the railroad tracks, which is why he got the name, the railroad killer. The railroad tracks were the key to the crimes that were being committed because they were all near railroad tracks,” said Dunn.

Dunn was the only survivor.

“As more and more cases started to come to light, it just got to be a little overwhelming. It is hard being the only known survivor. I had a lot of survivor’s guilt. I had a lot of feeling that there was a lot of people not in this world anymore and they don’t get to live their life like I do,” said Dunn.

Dunn even had the courage to face her attacker in court during the penalty phase of another victim’s trial.


“That day was truly one of the hardest days of my life. I mean, it was almost as much as the night of the attack. It was absolutely one of the hardest things to be on the stand and to talk about this horrible thing.

The railroad killer has since been executed. Dunn said since then she’s been healing by sharing her story, becoming a motivational speaker, writing the book, ‘Sole Survivor’ and even becoming a founder of her own center for adults and child victims of intimate crimes, called Holly’s House.

“I’m putting this out into the world that you did not destroy me. You know, you caused this one terrible day in my life. But I am writing the rest of the story,” said Dunn.

Dunn spoke at the Vogue Theatre in Manistee Friday evening and will be speaking Saturday at noon at the Ludington Area Center for the Arts. Both events are free to the public.

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