Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Kensington Strangler suspect in custody

Philadelphia police are expected to announce a significant break in the Kensington Strangler case at a news conference at 6 tonight.

Kensington Strangler suspect in custody

Just minutes after Philadelphia police announced that Antonio Rodriguez (inset) was wanted as a person of interest in the murder of three women in Kensington, he was found in this home at 3336 Mutter Street in Kensington. (Bob Moran / Staff)
Just minutes after Philadelphia police announced that Antonio Rodriguez (inset) was wanted as a person of interest in the murder of three women in Kensington, he was found in this home at 3336 Mutter Street in Kensington. (Bob Moran / Staff)

UPDATE, 6:45 p.m.: Police just announced that they have taken into custody Antonio Rodriguez, identified tonight as the Kensington Strangler. Rodriguez was picked up in a home on Mutter Street near Westmoreland in Kensington.

Police said they received a tip about his whereabouts just a few moments after a press conference announcing he was a suspect.

UPDATE, 6 p.m.: Homicide Capt. James Clark just announced that police have linked a 21-year-old man to the sexual assaults and murder of three women in Kensington through DNA evidence.

Clark identified the "strong person of interest" as Antonio Rodriguez, 22, whose last known address is 3400 North Mascher Street. He is described as 5-foot-9, 155 pounds, with a large scar from his left ear to the middle of his throat. He has the name Kiera tattoed on his left arm and "Scorpio" on his right arm.

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"Through DNA we linked the three murders and sexual assaults," Clark said. The DNA link came from the Pennsylvania State Police's convicted felon database, Clark said.

Clark asked anyone with information on his whereabouts to contact Homicide detectives at 215-686-3334, or 3335.

Clark said the man is homeless and frequenting abandoned houses in the Kensington area and that police don't believe anyone is helping the man out. He said Rodriguez speaks fluent Spanish and goes by the nickname of "Black" in the neighborhood.

"We need to catch this person and get him off the streets now," Mayor Nutter said in a statement. "We know who you are and we're for looking you. It's not if, it's when."

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Philadelphia police are expected to announce a significant break in the Kensington Strangler case at a news conference at 6 tonight.

Police sources said investigators have found a DNA match for the strangler through CODIS, a national database of criminal DNA profiles. It is not yet known if the suspect is in police custody. 

Thus far, DNA evidence has linked the notorious strangler to the murders and rapes of three women in Kensington since November. Police have said that the killer might have also sexually assaulted and choked three other women in the area in the last few months. A composite sketch of the man involved in those attacks depicted him as a thin hispanic or light-skinned black man with sideburns. Surveillance footage of one of the non-fatal attacks showed that the man also favored his left side as he walked.

A $37,000 reward was posted last month for information that leads to the arrest of the strangler.  

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Philly Confidential, which covers crime in Philadelphia and the suburbs, is written by Daily News staffers Dana DiFilippo, Stephanie Farr, Vinny Vella and Morgan Zalot.

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