Last week, the story of the "Kensington Strangler" â€” the person-at-large who may or not be responsible for multiple murders and choking assaults in and around Kensington â€”Â reached fever pitch in the Philly news media, the Inquirer and Daily News both running lurid headlines about the massive police manhunt underway in Kenzo.
But in amid all the hype, it's not clear that the Kensington Strangler really exists â€” or, rather, that a single person has been responsible for certain recent crimes. In fact, it's not clear to what extent some of these crimes could happen fairly often.
To be sure, police have linked the same person (by DNA) to the two murders-by-strangulation that ignited the story. That Kensington Strangler does exist, and has yet to be identified.
But several more cases of murder and assault involving choking have not, despite appearing over and over again in articles about the Strangler, been linked to the same suspect.
And CP wondered: Kensington is, after all, a neighborhood ridden with both violent crime and prostitution â€” could it be that the sudden media spotlight was simply picking up incidents that happen more frequently than we'd like to believe?
Indeed, Police spokesman Lt. Ray Evers told CP late last week that he thought the media was "going overboard," and cautioned that half-dozen or so crimes being examined may not, in fact, be linked:
We believe the three [assaults on prostitutes that involved choking] are closely tied. The two homicides are definitely tied. And the three assaults and homicides may be tied together. . . But this is [an area with] high risk activities.
In fact, Evers said, the police have already arrested one area man accused of choking a woman â€” but who police say is unconnected to any of these cases. Police have also detained a person of interest in the recent murder of a third woman, but do not presently believe that person to be connected to the other two murders or choking cases.
In other words, there's no doubt women are being attacked and choked in Kensington â€” but whether it's the work of a single individual, or a disturbing glimpse into patterns of regular violence against these women â€” is much less clear.