Man mourns slain prostitute ... his wife
In Atlantic City, a town known for its gambling, the biggest risk-takers aren't in the casinos, they are on the streets. Prostitutes who sell sex for money or trade it for crack cocaine risk their lives every time they sit in a stranger's car or walk into a hotel room.
Late last month, everyone was reminded just how dangerous this life could be as the bodies of four women (three with criminal records for prostitution) were pulled out of a dark and smelly New Jersey marsh. I walked through that marsh Monday struck by the sheer inhumanity of these murders.
Some of the details of the crimes suggest the women may be victims of a serial killer or killers, although authorities will not confirm that suspicion. The victims were placed facedown in a shallow watery ditch; they were fully clothed but their shoes had been removed; and they were arranged so that they were facing east, toward the lights of the casinos.
I came here to learn more about one of the victims, in particular -- Kim Raffo. She was a homemaker, a wife and a loving mother of two; that was before crack took over her life.
I met Raffo's estranged husband, Hugh Auslander. He's a carpenter used to building things with his hands. But despite his best efforts, he couldn't keep Kim from falling apart and destroying their happy home.
Auslander refused to divorce Kim, not even when she told him that she had begun selling herself on the street. He always hoped that if he showed her that someone still loved her, she would clean up and come home to stay.
That dream ended in late November, and now his only wish is to have her remembered as the caring, smiling woman with whom he fell in love, and not the victim whose life spiraled out of control on the streets of Atlantic City.