Sources: 'Kensington Strangler' suspect has confessed

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

January 18, 2011 3:31:02 PM PST
Police sources tell Action News that the man suspected of being the 'Kensington Strangler' has confessed to the killings.

Action News spoke with Joseph Goldberg, whose daughter Elaine was killed by the strangler two and a half months ago.

"I was quite happy yesterday when I learned he was arrested," Joseph said.

He says the arrest of Antonio Rodriguez ends just part of his family's agony.

"It's not going to bring my daughter back, but it's been really intolerable to know the person that killed my daughter was running around free and doing whatever he wants t do, so it's a relief," Joseph said.

Rodriguez, 22, was arrested on Monday night on an unrelated warrant just minutes after police announced at a news conference that he was a "strong person of interest" in the stranglings.

On Tuesday, sources told Action News that Rodriguez has confessed to the murders of Elaine Goldberg, Nicole Piacentini, and Casey Mahoney. Police said Rodriguez's DNA has been linked to genetic material found on the three women who were strangled in Kensington.

Rodriguez is also suspected in four other assault cases. Police sources say two of those victims have positively identified Rodriguez from his mug shot.

Police previously said that Rodriguez has mentioned a fourth killing. However, Action News has learned that it was a misunderstanding between Rodriguez and the detective questioning him, and no fourth death was actually mentioned.

Rodriguez will be formally charged with the murders on Wednesday .

The bodies of the three women were found between early November and mid-December in vacant lots within a 10-block radius. The victims, all in their 20s, had struggled with drug addiction.

The attacks took place in a stretch of Kensington known for open prostitution and drugs, although an influx of artists and young homebuyers has made parts of the neighborhood a bit trendier in recent years.

Captain James Clark said it appeared Rodriguez was wandering around Kensington alone.

"Right now, the information we're getting is he's homeless, he's wandering in the area, he's frequenting abandoned houses, sort of just walking around in the Kensington area, so right now we do not believe anyone is helping him out," Clark said.

Joseph Goldberg isn't sure what he wants to happen to Rodriguez now, other than a lifetime of suffering behind bars, suffering for the pain he has allegedly inflicted on three victims and their families.

"My daughter was in a lot of ways my best friend and I really miss her badly," Joseph said.

Backlogs delayed DNA tests in case

Pennsylvania State Police told the Associated Press that a case backlog and needed computer upgrades both delayed DNA tests that eventually linked Rodriguez to the stranglings.

The arrest on an unrelated bench warrant came hours after police announced a DNA match.

Major Kenneth F. Hill, director of the state police's Bureau of Forensic Services, was quoted in the AP report saying tests were delayed by a backlog in the system and the need for computer upgrades in the testing database.

A Philadelphia police spokesman says Rodriguez had been jailed between June 5 and August 19 on a narcotics charge.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.