By Paul Kurtz
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CBS) — Bail has been set at $1½ million for the Philadelphia woman accused of stabbing two Canadian tourists to death yesterday in broad daylight in Atlantic City.
Antoinette Pelzer, 44, made her first appearance in court on Tuesday. She reportedly used a 12-inch butcher knife in the attack on the two Toronto women, ages 47 and 80 (see related story). Charges against Pelzer, of West Huntington Park in Philadelphia, include two counts of murder, as well as unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for unlawful purpose and robbery.
The incident happened in the casino district less than a week before Memorial Day weekend, and just after tourism officials launched a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign called “Do AC.”
The ad campaign touts all the fun that the new state-run tourism district has to offer. Of course, murder is not part of the package, and officials now find themselves attempting to downplay what happened.
“It’s a very, very bizarre, unusual incident that I truly believe was an aberration,” says Tom Gilbert, the tourism district’s public safety commander, “and I don’t believe it had any nexus specifically to Atlantic City or the tourism district.”
Gilbert declined to comment on the specifics of the case, which is being handled by Atlantic City police and the county prosecutor’s office.
Meanwhile, how are Canadians reacting to the crime?
KYW’s Pat Loeb (right) reports that in Toronto, a city of five million, crime is as much a fact of life as in any big city.
And yes, Toronto Star editor Scott Colby says, such incidents makes news there but don’t necessarily shock.
“It’s not unusual that people from Toronto have mishaps in other cities,” he notes.
Indeed, the brutal stabbings share space on the front page today with the death of a Toronto woman on a Mt. Everest expedition, and it was pushed off the Canadian Broadcasting web site by the story a man surviving a plunge over Niagara Falls.
Colby says the Atlantic City stabbings will no doubt get more play once reporters there talk to relatives of the victims and can tell a more complete story. But, he agrees with Tom Gilbert, it’s not likely to reflect on Atlantic City.
“It was like a schizophrenic woman and a daylight robbery; this thing’s so bizarre, that kind of thing can happen anywhere,” Colby says.