PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia authorities have confirmed a third death is linked to the so-called “Kensington strangler.” News of the confirmation broke after authorities announced a large reward as they race the clock to catch the serial murderer.
A task force is hunting the unidentified killer who has been linked by DNA to three murders and three other assaults.
“This is very, very important that we find this person before he has an opportunity to kill again or to rape again,” Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey told reporters on Tuesday.
Mayor Michael Nutter also urged anyone with information on the killer to come forward.
Authorities spoke Tuesday afternoon just feet from where one of the victims was found dead in Kensington (right).
For weeks now, police have been looking for a man who sexually assaulted and strangled Nicole Piacentini, 35, and Elaine Goldberg, 21, in November. Police say DNA evidence tied the two murders to one individual. DNA test results received Tuesday evening linked that same man to Casey Mahoney, 27, who was murdered just last week. The “strangler” is also believed to have sexually assaulted three other women who survived.
Authorities say they are working to get this criminal off the street and referencing a recent incident, urged the residents of Kensington not to resort to vigilante justice.
Monday police had to rescue a man after crowds gathered outside his home when his name, picture and address were posted on a Facebook page, claiming he was the strangler. Police said that man has been cleared of any connection to the case and say they will prosecute anyone who engages in vigilante justice (see related story).
“We will not tolerate anyone taking vigilante action against this individual,” said Ramsey.
A $30,000 reward has been issued for information leading to an arrest and conviction. An additional $7,000 was contributed by the Fraternal Order of Police and City Councilman Frank DiCicco and will be paid out immediately after an arrest with a DNA match. Authorities said if an arrest is made, that money could be available to the tipster by Christmas.
Anyone with information is urged to contact 215-686-TIPS (8477).
Reported by Tony Hanson and Mark Abrams, KYW Newsradio; Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3.