Police investigate second Kensington strangling

For the second time in less than two weeks, police are investigating the death of a woman who was strangled in Kensington.

There is no indication that the killings are connected, Philadelphia Lt. Ray Evers said Monday.

Elaine Goldberg, 21 and on a path that included quitting drugs and entering nursing school, was found dead.

"At this time, there is no direct evidence linking the two," he said. "There are some similarities, but that could be a coincidence."

The body of Nicole Piacentini, 35, was found Saturday afternoon behind an abandoned building on the 1900 block of East Cumberland Street. Piacentini's body was partially clothed, police said.

Piacentini, who lived in Port Richmond, was found less than a mile from the vacant lot where 21-year-old Elaine Goldberg was found Nov. 3. Goldberg, too, was found partially clothed and had been strangled. No arrests have been made in that case.

Investigators are reviewing evidence taken from both scenes. Evers would not comment on whether police had collected DNA evidence.

Officials responding to a call for a hospital case found Piacentini's body in the rear of the building on East Cumberland Street about 4 p.m. Saturday, police said. Police have not said who made the call.

Goldberg, who had lived with her family in the Northeast, was found in a trash-strewn lot on the 2800 block of Ruth Street, near an abandoned warehouse and less than a mile from where Piacentini was found.

A nursing student at Gwynned-Mercy College in Montgomery County, Goldberg had recently turned her life around after a bout with drug addiction, according to her family. Relatives said she was thrilled to be clean and sober and had rededicated her life to her education.

Piacentini had several brushes with the law, records show. She was found guilty of prostitution in 2007, and has been arrested on charges of drug possession.

The area where both women were found is near a stretch of Kensington Avenue that is known as a corridor for drug dealing and prostitution, according to police. In October and November 2009, several prostitutes reported being raped and beaten by a man who took them to abandoned areas. In March, police charged Quincy Williams, 38, in several of those attacks, citing DNA evidence. Williams is still in custody, records show.

Anyone with information in either strangulation case is asked to call the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334.

Contact staff writer Allison Steele at (215) 854-2641 or asteele@phillynews.com.