Both women were taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center just a short walk from the scene, where they died Monday afternoon. Both had been stabbed multiple times in the upper body. Their names had not been released Monday night.
Authorities said Atlantic City Police Officer Jacob Abbruscato was patrolling the area shortly after 10 a.m. when he came upon Pelzer and the women. Abbruscato pulled his service weapon and ordered Pelzer to drop her weapon, which she did. Charges against her were being upgraded to murder, Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel said in a statement Monday.
Initial reports said witnesses described the stabbings as an attempted robbery. Authorities said it was unclear how long Pelzer had been in Atlantic City or where she was staying. Authorities did not say where Pelzer lived, but records show her as once living in Wynnefield. Family members could not be reached.
It’s the latest attack against a visitor in a resort town struggling to shed its dangerous image. Monday’s murder victims were the seventh and eighth of the year in the city of 40,000, according to The Press of Atlantic City.
Monday’s murders happened on the two-year anniversary of the abduction and murder of tourist Martin Caballero. He was kidnapped from the parking garage of the Trump Taj Mahal. Craig Arno, who was convicted, grew up in Overbrook Park. His accomplice, Jessica Kisby, pleaded guilty.
In May 2010, Ray Kot, a manager at the Trump Taj Mahal, was shot dead inside the casino by a customer. In January 2009, an elderly man was beaten and robbed in the Taj’s garage and an elderly couple was robbed and beaten at Caesars a month later.
Monday’s double homicide is another blow to Atlantic City’s reputation as a tourist destination. Revenue at the city’s casinos has declined steadily since casinos in Pennsylvania opened in 2006. In an effort to reverse the slide, New Jersey created an Atlantic City Tourism District last year as a way to improve the area around the casinos and boardwalk.
A new ad campaign, “Do A.C.,” was launched last month and the opening of the $2.4 billion Revel resort has been hyped. Beyoncé will perform three shows this weekend for its grand opening.
Monday’s double homicide may not be far from the minds of the casino’s new visitors, but one official tried to offer perspective.
“This was a random and bizarre act of violence,” Tom Gilbert, commander of the tourism district, told The Press of Atlantic City. “The Atlantic City Police Department and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office will continue to partner and identify all of the facts of what took place and why it took place.” n
Contact Jason Nark at 215-854-5916 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonnark