Questions remain in Kensington Strangler case

PHILADELPHIA - December 8, 2010

Lionel Izarra found himself in a desperate struggle with the suspect Wednesday morning.

Police say two women who live on East Cornwall Street were approached by the man around 3:00 a.m. and he started groping them.

"He engages in conversation, indecently assaults one of the females right on the highway and follows them to the residence; as they're trying to seek safety inside of the residence, he barges in behind them," Philadelphia Police Captain John Darby.

The women were screaming for help and woke up their roommate Lionel.

"The girls were screaming my name, so I just ran down, and I saw him and that's when pretty much everything ended, I had him tackled down and waiting for the cops to get here," Izarra said.

Police are now questioning the man and have taken a DNA sample.

Lionel says he looks just like the police sketch of the suspect in one of the assault cases.

Hours earlier, police found a body at a house on the 2900 block of Rutledge Street.

The victim was on the couch, fully clothed.

"There is some slight bruising around the neck area that's why 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 and if it's going to be by the same individual or not," Philadelphia Police Captain James Clark said.

In an update, Wednesday evening, signs were pointing that this case is most likely not connected with the other strangling deaths, but police have not definitely said so one way or the other.

In all, police have 8 cases over the past three months; four deaths and four assaults that may be connected.

On November 3rd, Elaine Goldberg was found in a vacant lot of Ruth Street beaten, sexually assaulted, and strangled.

10 days later, Nicole Piacentini's body was found in the doorway of an abandoned row house on Cumberland Street. She was beaten, sexually assaulted, and strangled.

DNA has linked these two murders to one man, but he's not been matched in databases.

On December 3rd, the body of Allison Edwards was found in a Juniata Park apartment where she lived with several men. Police have a person of interest in this case and have all, but eliminated this fatal incident from the strangler file.

And as stated above, Tuesday night, police were alerted to the body of the 30-year-old woman inside a Kensington home in the 2900 block Rutledge Street. Drug paraphernalia was at her side. There were bruises on her neck. But again, police believe this case is likely not related to the DNA-related ones.

In three other incidents, women were able to escape the assaults. A composite sketch of a suspect was generated from their descriptions.

In all the three cases being investigated, there is no DNA to link the suspect to the murders.

The police are urging women in the area to be careful and are hoping to hear from more witnesses or possible victims.

"Any suspicious behavior should be reported to police, let the taskforce determine whether or not this is part of the pattern or not," Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said.

Action News profiled the case of one of the victims, 21-year-old Elaine Goldberg in a recent Crimefighters Report. There is a $3,000 reward being administered by the Citizens Crime Commission. If you have information, make that anonymous call to 215-546-TIPS.

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