Police: Suspected 'Kensington Strangler' arrested

Philadelphia police have named 21-year-old Antonio Rodriguez as a person of interest in the three 'Kensington Strangler' murders.

January 19, 2011 7:16:15 AM PST
Police say they have the Kensington Strangler in custody.

His name is Antonio Rodriguez, and investigators say his DNA has been linked to genetic material found on three women strangled on the streets of Kensington.

He was apprehended just minutes after police held a news conference and publicly identified him LIVE on 6abc.

A source close to the investigation tells Action News that detectives are close to gathering a confession from Rodriguez.

A caravan of police vehicles sped into Police headquarters Monday night with Rodriguez and two other people who were with him when he was captured. Earlier in the day, police say DNA from a State Police database linked Rodriguez to the murders.

Philadelphia Police Captain James Clark announced during the press conference yesterday "This confirmation links Antonio Rodriguez to the sexual assaults and murders of Elaine Goldberg, Nicole Piacentini, and Casey Mahoney."

Minutes after announcing Rodriguez as a person of interest, detectives received a tip he was inside a home on the 3300 block of Mutter Street.

"Once inside, [officers] did find Mr. Rodriguez. He was taken into custody without incident," explained Capt. Clark.

For months, the people of Kensington have been on edge - worried for their safety and when he may strike again. Now, residents can let out a sigh of relief.

Kensington resident Stephanie Reyes tells Action News, "He did what he did and now he has to suffer the consequences."

Byron Elmer of Kensington says, "It's good and it's good for the community. I'm sorry it had to be someone from our neighborhood. But I'm glad he's caught and that's all that matters."

Friends and neighbors say Rodriguez grew up on the 3400 block of Mascher Street. He and his brother were adopted while they were just young kids.

Two of his friends, who don't want to be identified, say they were with Rodriguez yesterday, but they had no idea he was the man police say is responsible for terrorizing the city. They believe he was able to elude capture for so long because he does not resemble the original sketch provided to police.

"And it is again, the great work of the Philadelphia Police Department and other law enforcement agencies partnering together that bring us to this announcement this evening," said Mayor Michael Nutter. "It's a great job by the Philadelphia Police Department."

Rodriguez has no prior sexual offenses but does have prior arrests for drug related offenses and recently served time behind bars - that's how police were able to make a DNA match.

Formal murder charges are expected soon.

In the stranglings case, 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. Separately, the local Fraternal Order of Police and Councilman Frank DiCicco offered $7,000 for help simply leading to an arrest with a DNA match.

There was no immediate word on who, if anyone, would be able to collect the reward.