October 30, 2010: Elaine Goldberg, a nursing student went missing in the rough neighborhood of Kensington in Philadelphia. As the days passed, her family grew more and more concerned. Only recently did the 21- year old finish up rehab. She had just recently celebrated 30 days of sobriety. Her father Joe Goldberg became increasingly worried. He began looking for her in the neighborhood.
On Wednesday, November 3, police received a call about a suspicious death in Kensington. A body was found in an empty lot, surrounded by drug paraphernalia. Because of the drug devices, and the reputation of the area, police initially thought it might have been an overdose. But then they noticed that the body’s hips had been propped upwards, posed after death. It was that detail that prompted police to start investigating the case as a murder. The medical examiner determined that the woman died from strangulation and DNA was found in her body, presumably from her killer.
On November 13, another suspicious death was reported in Kensington. The body was found at the doorway of a vacant row-house, near human feces, used needles, garbage and condoms. The partially clothed woman was also posed with her hips up high, just like Elaine. The medical examiner determined that she also died from strangulation. Now, police knew they were dealing with a serial rapist and a serial murderer—and because of the posing of the bodies, they knew the killer likely wanted to send a message that these killings were his work.
The second body was identified as 35-year-old Nicole Piacentini, a mother of four. The Daily Beast reported that “she was an Avenue veteran with a history of drug and prostitution charges.” Her body contained DNA evidence, like Elaine’s.
Police set up a task force, according to NBC Philadelphia, and undercover officers began posing as sex workers in hopes of catching the killer.
The “Kensington Strangler” began making front page news. Dr. Clarence Watson, a forensic criminal psychiatrist told an ABC affiliate, "It could be a person who has frustrated interactions with females, hostility towards females. They're feeling out of control in their lives and now they need to regain some sense of control, regain some sense of self-esteem or repair their ego in some way & they go out and act."
Listen to the full story of the Kensington Strangler on Martinis & Murder.
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