Stranglehold of fear grows: Kensington assault this a.m. may be linked to others

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Police reissued this sketch of a suspect based on a description by a woman who survived an attempted strangling. Meanwhile, Elaine Goldberg, top right, was fatally strangled, as was Christine Piacentini, lower right.

Police issued an updated sketch of a sexual assault suspect this afternoon and said that man, who is believed to be responsible for at least two prior assaults in Kensington involving choking, may be behind one that happened early this morning.

This morning's assault, which occurred on Sergeant Street near Kensington Avenue - the exact same location as one that occurred on Oct. 31 - happened around 2:10 a.m. when a 33-year-old woman was pulled into an alley by her hair, police said. Once in the alley, the man strangled her, punched her and hit her in the head with a brick, according to police. He also tried to stab her with a pair of scissors, but she was able to wrestle them away from him, police said.

The sketch was provided to police by one of several women who have have previously given similar descriptions of an attacker that choked and sexually assaulted them in the Kensington area. Today's victim also offered a similar description of her attacker, according to police. She said he was a black man between 20 and 24 and between 5 feet 7 and 5 feet 11. She described him as slender, between 160 and 170 pounds with facial hair and an iPod.

Though at first, they appear identical, the earlier sketch and the one released by police today have slight differences. In the newest sketch, the suspect does not have a patch of hair on his chin and his eyebrows and a mole on his cheek are less pronounced. He also has sideburns.

Lt. Ray Evers, police spokesman, said today’s victim said her attacker looked like the previous sketch. He declined to look into whether the sketch artist used the old sketch as a basis or started from scratch.

Police are also investigating whether the same man may be behind two strangulation deaths that have occurred recently in the Kensington area and were linked by DNA. On Friday, a third strangulation victim, Allison Edwards, 22, was found in Juniata Park and police are investigating whether her death is connected to the others as well.

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