Philadelphia Police Hunt 'Kensington Strangler'

Police: One suspect may be behind several attacks in Philly neighborhood.

December 8, 2010, 2:39 PM

Dec. 8, 2010 — -- Philadelphia police are on the hunt for a suspect -- dubbed the "Kensington Strangler" by the local media -- who may be behind a slew of assaults in the area over the past several months, including at least two deaths.

"We have a predator who's out there," homicide division Capt. James Clark told ABC News' Philadelphia affiliate WPVI. "We know for a fact that he has sexually assaulted and killed two individuals. When the DNA comes back, we'll find out if he's done any more than this."

There have been several sexual assaults in the 14,000-person neighborhood of Kensington in the last two months -- three of which police believe are connected to the killings.

Police also are looking into whether additional assaults in the area might be linked.

The latest potential victim, a young woman, was discovered dead Tuesday night in an abandoned home, but it was unclear if her death was a homicide.

"There is some slight bruising around the neck area," Clark told reporters of the most recent death. "That's why the homicide unit picked it up and we are taking a look at it. However, we cannot definitively say if it's going to be a murder or if it's going to be by the same individual or not."

Two women told police they were choked into unconsciousness by a slender, soft-spoken attacker. Police released a sketch of the suspect after one of the attacks.

The killer's DNA has been put into a national crime database. So far, it has not come back with any matches to any other crimes, but it is still a work in progress, Clark told WPVI.

Other victims came forward, police said, but not until weeks after the attacks when it was not possible to perform DNA testing.

Police Commissioner: 'Not Saying It Is, Not Saying It Isn't' Single Attacker

Despite police plastering sketches of an attacker on fliers and the front page of local newspapers, Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said investigators also are looking into the possibility of more than one attacker.

"All of you know we have more than one criminal in the city of Philadelphia, so it is not a foregone conclusion that this is the same individual who has done all of these things," Ramsey told CBS Philly. "We don't know. We're not saying it is. We're not saying it isn't. But if someone is assaulted, it's imperative that they contact us immediately."

Clark cautioned residents to let the police do their jobs and not to assume that everyone is the assailant.

During a press conference, Clark assured residents that police also are looking into cold cases to find any connections. In the meantime, he said that "if someone is assaulted it is important that they contact us immediately."

That is important, Ramsey said, so police can process "any forensic evidence that we can recover, any additional information in terms of description we can get, and get out quickly."