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Slaying may be linked to 5 other attacks, Philadelphia police say

From Jordana Ossad, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Philadelphia police are investigating whether a slaying is linked to previous attacks
  • Authorities are awaiting forensic testing to determine if there is a connection
  • The previous attacks resulted in two deaths; DNA evidence links those two, police say

(CNN) -- Investigators are looking into whether the strangulation death of a 27-year-old woman is linked to a series of recent attacks on females in a central Philadelphia neighborhood, police say.

The partially clothed body of Casey Mahoney, an apparent homicide victim, was found Wednesday, said police spokeswoman Jillian Russell.

Authorities are awaiting forensic test results to determine if there is a connection between Mahoney's death and the other attacks in the neighborhood of Kensington, Russell said. Those attacks include two homicides and three aggravated assaults

The location, the similar nature of the attacks and the descriptions of the attackers lead police to suspect they are connected. The victims, all white females, were choked. Elaine Goldberg, 21, and Nicole Piacentini, 35, were killed in attacks last month.

DNA evidence from the same individual was found at the scene of those previous homicides, said police spokesman Ray Evers. Authorities lack corroborating DNA evidence linking the assaults to the homicides because too much time elapsed between the initial two assaults in October and when the victims notified police.

"The assault victims did not come forward until police began combing the Kensington for suspects and potential victims following the November homicides," Evers said.

Last week, federal agents joined the investigation, bringing in resources from the FBI's behavioral analysis unit, violent criminal apprehension program, and National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime.

"The investigation appears to be limited to Philadelphia," said FBI spokesman J.J. Klaver. "This could change if there are any indications that the subject or subjects responsible for the crimes ... are linked to similar crimes elsewhere."

The assault victims described the attacker as an African-American male in his early 20s weighing between 160 and 170 pounds.

Police said a 33-year-old female was pulled into an alley last week. Despite being choked, punched and hit on the head with a brick, she escaped her assailant, who fled from the scene, according to a police report.

Police say the Kensington area has high amounts of drug use and prostitution.