Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Is Antonio Rodriguez The Kensington Strangler Or Just A Man Whose DNA Was In The Wrong Place At The Wrong Time?
The confidence in prison reform may be at an all time low. The gruesome killings by ex cons like Robert Williams and Maurice Clemmons add fuel to the fire of those claiming rehabilitation is a waste of time and money. If Antonio Rodriguez is proved to be the Kensington Strangler, then it might be time to bury the idea of reform once and for all. Rodriquez, 21, was recently released from prison. After his release, Rodriquez apparently wandered the streets and stayed in abandoned homes. On January 17, 2011, he was arrested after his DNA was linked to the sexual assaults and strangling deaths of three women. (Rodriguez was actually taken into custody on an unrelated bench warrant and is not yet charged with sexual assault or murder. However, Philadelphia police spokesman, James Clark, said Rodriguez was being sought as a "strong" person of interest in the Kensington murders.)
Police have yet to charge Rodriquez with any crime in the strangling cases. But the state police have apparently linked his DNA from their convicted felon database to the crimes. It is unknown why Rodriguez was in the state police database. Rodriguez is described as 5-foot-9, 155 pounds with a large scar running from his left ear to the middle of his throat. He has "Kiera" tattooed on his left arm and "Scorpio" on his right arm.
The assaults date back to early October of 2010. DNA was discovered while investigating the deaths of Elaine Goldberg, Nicole Piacentini, and Casey Mahoney. All three women were in their 20s. All three women had a history of drug use. The three women were all found between early November and mid-December in vacant lots within a 10-block radius.Three other women apparently survived sexual assaults in the area. However, none of the surviving victims have identified Rodriguez at this time. In the future, they will be asked to view Rodriuez's photo to see if they can identify him as their attacker.
The Kensington area is far from paradise. But an influx of new home buyers give cause for hope. In the mean time, the area has more than its fair share of prostitution and drugs. Unsolved murders are simply not part of the plan for the a neighborhood that is seeking restoration. Thus, residents welcome the apparent solving of the Kensington Strangler cases. "Catch the Kensington Strangler" posts have been popular on Facebook. On at least one occasion the posts led to a false identification. Unfortunately, the DNA evidence in this case may not be able to be confirmed by the poor quality surveillance photo of a possible suspect. Only time will tell if corroborating witnesses will support the charging of Rodriquez. In the interim, Mayor Michael Nutter offered a $30,000 reward sponsored by the city and Citizens Crime Commission for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator. The local Fraternal Order of Police and Councilman Frank DiCicco have offered an additional $7,000 for information leading to an arrest.
As always, Antonio Rodriguez is presumed innocent (and rehabilitation still possible) unless otherwise proven in a court of law. While research has proven that smoking can harm ones DNA, STUDY LINK, it is also possible that one's DNA could conceivably unjustly harm one's reputation.