Cops: Woman choked in Kensington at site of prior assault; new sketch released

A woman walks last night on Kensington Avenue, near the site of the latest strangling.
A woman walks last night on Kensington Avenue, near the site of the latest strangling.
Posted: December 07, 2010

NOTHER WOMAN may have become a victim of the Kensington Strangler yesterday morning, but this time the fiend used more than just his hands - he used a brick and scissors too, police said.

The 33-year-old victim was walking on Kensington Avenue about 2:10 a.m. when she was approached by a man who walked with her for a bit before pulling her in an alley on Sergeant Street near Kensington Avenue, police said.

There, he choked her, punched her and hit her in the head with a brick, according to police. He also tried to stab her with scissors, but she was able to wrestle them away from him and he fled, police said.

The woman told police her attacker resembled a sketch given by a woman who said she had been sexually assaulted and choked unconscious at an abandoned property on Cumberland Street near Jasper in early October.

That woman came forward after police found Nicole Piacentini's strangled body at the same spot on Nov. 13. Piacentini's murder followed that of Elaine Goldberg, who was found strangled on Nov. 3 in a vacant lot on Ruth Street near Hart Lane in Kensington. Those slayings have been linked by DNA to the same person, police said.

Once the sketch was released, another woman came forward to say that a man who looked similar to the sketch sexually assaulted and choked her into unconsciousness on Oct. 31 on Sergeant Street near Kensington Avenue - the same location where yesterday's victim was assaulted.

In total, two women have been strangled and three now claim they were choked and assaulted in Kensington since early October. One other strangulation victim, Allison Edwards, 22, was discovered on Friday in nearby Juniata Park, and two other women claim they survived chokings and assaults in Juniata Park and North Philadelphia in November.

Lt. Ray Evers, police spokesman, said yesterday's victim remembered the sketch and said her attacker looked like the mystery suspect, dubbed by the media and on the streets as the Kensington Strangler.

Police released an updated sketch yesterday that has only a few small changes from the original, including the lack of a patch of hair on the man's chin and the addition of sideburns.

Evers said the victim provided the description for the sketch.

The most recent victim described her attacker as a black man between 20 and 24 years old and between 5 feet 7 and 5 feet 11. He was slender, between 160 and 170 pounds, and he had unshaven hair on the side of his face, police said.

He wore a dark, puffy coat, a dark sweatshirt, blue jeans and iPod earbuds. Police said he told the victim his name was Anthony.

Previously in news conferences, police have said that some of the victims have described their attacker as a Hispanic or black man.

Last night in Kensington, police cruisers periodically swung down Kensington Avenue - long a haven for prostitutes and drug users - while undercover cops scoured the side streets and darkened alleys.

Despite the rash of murders and violent attacks on women, prostitutes - especially young ones - can't stay away, said one woman who didn't want to be named.

"They can't help themselves," she said. "I'm not a crack addict, but I'm out here because I need money."

The woman said she didn't think there was much of an added police presence in the area. "How many [cop cars] have you seen?" she asked. "I think we need more cops out here."

Even if there were a cadre of uniformed cops working the avenue, the woman said, some prostitutes would hesitate from asking for help or passing along tips. "They don't want to go to jail," she said.

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