Tuesday, December 19, 2006
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.
Posted By David Mattingly, CNN Correspondent: 5:59 PM ET
I'm an American, but live in Berlin. In Germany prostitution is legal, but it's still stirking to see "ladies of the night" manning their posts in Mitte (central Berlin).

I certainly was not use to seeing such sites growing up in the Bible belt. While I get the feeling that many Americans are in complete dismay over the fact that a women would sell her body, it's something that has become part of the landscape for me here. Whether you are for it, or against it, you can't deny its presence in our societies.
Posted By Anonymous Schuyler Deerman, Berlin, Germany : 6:22 PM ET
It's pretty crazy how life takes you in different directions...

I hope he and his family cope with this sad situation.

"He always hoped that if he showed her that someone still loved her, she would clean up and come home to stay."

That is some pretty amazing love and forgiveness right there....
Posted By Anonymous deepa buffalo,ny : 6:35 PM ET
We tend to think of prostitutes as somewhat disposable people. This posting helped remind me that each of these women had a family, had a story of their own. They fell on hard times but there must have been people who cared about each of them. It is good to read a story that helps us get past our knee-jerk reactions and gets us thinking again.
Posted By Anonymous Sue, Dublin Ohio : 6:55 PM ET
This is just a sad story all around. It's sad that this woman got addicted to crack, gave up her husband and children, and then sold herself only to end up dead by some psycho killer. I admire the husband for his strength and persistence but it's now time for him to move on from this ordeal and finally enjoy life. He certainly deserves it!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 7:09 PM ET
Dear David,

I know you will probably answer this tonight, but if Kim Raffo was a "homemaker, a wife, and loving mother of two" what happened that drove her to take crack? If Mr. Auslander was the loving husband you described, then there is something missing from this story. No matter what, no one deserves to die like Ms. Raffo and the others did.

Jo Ann
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 7:09 PM ET
My heart goes out to Mr. Auslander and his family. I hope he realizes that it wouldn't have mattered what he did or how hard he tried, once his wife found crack, there was nothing anyone could have done to help her. He should also feel no shame because his wife had turned to prostitution. Apparently she was a loving wife and mother right up until crack came on the scene. I hope he brings his children up to remember their mother as the wonderful mother she was and that her death had been tragic.
Posted By Anonymous Bev Ontario Canada : 7:14 PM ET
As a mother of an addict, I can truly understand this man's agony. We can never know or understand the world that the 'chemically dependent' live in, but the glimpses are horrific.

We don't know if this is a serial killer or a pimp-dealer sending a message. What I do know is that drugs are too available and we give lip service to stopping the flow from the Borders to the streets. Our kids can get illegal drugs at school easier than they can get a tylenol if they have a headache. If your feeling down or anxious or tired, somebody at work will no doubt offer you a quick fix.

Addiction destroys good people. And Addicts love company. And contrary to the Donald, it is available in 'little town USA' and not limited to taking a bite of 'the Big Apple'.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista,ar : 7:21 PM ET
Addiction makes people do things they would never do clean and sober. I hope this man always remembers his wife before her disease took over their lives. Addiction is caused by a combination of genetics, environment, and brain chemistry. As Al-Anon says, "We didn't cause it, we can't control it, and we can't cure it." All untreated addictions overtake reality in the end. And the addict has to want recovery in order for reality to reveal itself again. Beating addiction is ultimately about going to any length to get back a person's life. It is just so sad that these women lost their lives because their addictions placed them in circumstances that were so horrific. And it is even sadder that they didn't realize their lives were worth so much more than their drugs of choice.
Posted By Anonymous TA Cheramie, Berwick, LA : 7:34 PM ET
Aww that is so sad.. My heart breaks for hubby
Posted By Anonymous roxi, newark : 7:46 PM ET
Thanks for this story. Nobody deserves to be killed...every life is important...it doesn't matter who you are...prostitutes are people too. I am touched by Mr. Auslander's unconditional love for his wife. I hope he finds consolation in knowing that she has finally found peace. My condolences to him.
Posted By Anonymous Lilibeth, Edmonds, WA : 8:00 PM ET
I came across this story and it really brought some attention to me. Its crazy what drugs can do to you. They can change your whole life and send you in to another world. What really made me get interested in this story is that how her husband refused to give her up throughout this whole ordeal. That takes a strong man and true love. we all think of prostitutes as people who have no lives and that no one cares for but if you put it to mind prostitutes are human to, just like the rest of us they live, they love, they do it all. My heart goes out to her husband and his family and i wish them well
Posted By Anonymous jenni, naples, florida : 8:01 PM ET
None of us are exempt from hurting or disappointing our loved ones. We must, as this husband did, continue to display love & support, hoping for their safe return.
Unfortunately, my sister died of a gunshot wound directly at her face in the room with the man. She never seen it coming. The man served 1year of county jail time & then got out & murdered 2other innocent people in an unrelated incident.
Posted By Anonymous Mary, Miami Gardens, FL : 8:07 PM ET
Most of these women made a choice to sell themselves to fund the drugs that they chose to take. No amount of loving will "save them" if they don't love themselves. In this case, Kim gave up a life as a wife and mother for the high of crack. I feel more for the family she left behind then for her since she made those choices and now her family must deal with the aftermath. Personally I think prostitution should be legalized and regulated anyway since there are many people who hook up at bars, clubs, etc. for one nighter's - why not get paid instead of giving it away for free?
Posted By Anonymous M. Wong, Los Angeles, CA : 8:10 PM ET
Hello David~
What a tragic story. Hugh Auslander was a kind and decent man for not giving up on his wife. Auslander is right remember his wife Kim, as the loving wife and mother that she was and not focus on her physical addiction. Auslander and his children have my sincerest condolences. I wish them the inner peace that I am sure Kim would want them to have. I pray that the apprehension of the killer or killers is immediate. ~God's peace to all the victims and their families.
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 8:11 PM ET
Was was surfing by and read this and just felt compelled to comment on the decency of Mr. Auslander and people like him. This was a horrible tragedy. Kim's addiction, though, isn't all that rare. There are millions of people addicted to alcohol and tobacco (my weakness) and food and gambling to the extent that the wreck their lives. The miracle is that there are people out there like Mr. Auslander who continue to love them. God bless you Mr. Auslander and the nameless others like you. You make the world a better place for all of us and you embody better than any "mover and shaker" what God would wish of us.
Posted By Anonymous Mike Brooks, Eugene, OR : 8:19 PM ET
Oh, what a sad story. What a good man; caring, encouraging, loyal to the end. Hopefully the killer will be punished for his crimes.
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 8:34 PM ET
My heart goes out to the husband of this murder victim, and to his children as well.

While I'm sure his family continues to suffer, I hope he knows what a forgiving and patient example he is to his children. Despite their loss, that is a true gift.

Again, I'm sorry for your loss, Mr. Auslander and family.
Posted By Anonymous Kate, Long Island, NY : 8:42 PM ET
Now there is a MAN who loved his wife in every way possible. He ment it when he said the words, " for better or worse" those words really do mean something. He is clearly a man worth our respect.
Posted By Anonymous Mark Daubert, Mt Vernon, IA : 8:46 PM ET
When I read articles like this, I wonder if the practice in Amsterdam, Netherlands and Reno, Nevada USA of legalizing prostitution is pragmatically better (safer for the prostitute).
Posted By Anonymous Manny M, Battle Creek, MI : 8:50 PM ET
This truly shows how drugs can completely change a person and their actions. It's sad, but it happens everyday to people you would never think it would ever happen to. We send prayers to this man and his family.
Posted By Anonymous Julie ,Burlington, IA : 8:57 PM ET
I am amazed at the positive comments of understanding, love and forgivenss in these blogs. I fill the same way. What a great man and apparently at one time a great mother and loving wife. What I can not understand is why we don't see this in most people. Why do we choose to demonize them if they do something wrong
Posted By Anonymous Jimmy Saint Charles Mo. : 9:39 PM ET
Hi everyone,

I'm related to Kim Raffo, and I wanted to thank everyone for their kind words. Kim was a great person, and we miss her so much. I'm glad the story is finally getting coverage, Thank you Anderson Cooper :)
Posted By Anonymous Inga, Ft Laud. Florida : 9:43 PM ET
Well she had 2 children, did she even make the effort to walk into a rehab clinic? Was she using the money for crack? I'm sorry I can't tap into this sympathy, the way she died was horrific, but such a lifestyle comes with inevitable risk. If I was the husband I would most certainly called the cops on her. Love is doing the right thing. This man�s behavior was either spineless or he is putting on a fa�ade
Posted By Anonymous Shehan Jayawardena, Middletown CT : 10:16 PM ET
I wonder why prostitution generates so much interest and comment in the media?
Posted By Anonymous Norm, Yulee, FL : 10:21 PM ET
Everyone gets affected by a killing. Including people who are not even related. My heart goes out to the victims' families. I only wish we can all live in peace with no more killings, fightings etc. We are the only species in this world that kills in vain.
Posted By Anonymous Emma, Newtown Square, PA : 10:34 PM ET
i want to thank everyone who has made thier comments on this. I must say this is helpful with coping with this horrible act of violence. I am truly grateful for the years kim has given to me and our children. she was an angel to all who knew her. and what was worse in all this was she started to work this out and get away from that hell. one more week and we were to be together again as friends, but went back to A.C. for her things. while i had to work in florida she was to meet me in one more week.
Posted By Anonymous Hugh Auslander, nyc, ny : 10:48 PM ET
It is sad that so many women feel that they have to turn to selling their bodies in order to survive or feed an addiction. When women walk the streets they are vulnerable to attack. There is always a danger of being murdered or maimed by a "customer" or someone with a hatred towards women for whatever reason. Too bad for the loss of life.
Posted By Anonymous Nancy Walker, Rocklin, California : 12:28 AM ET
Absolutely amazing!!!! I read the story and the comments. First I�d like to comment to Jo Ann from Ohio. To imply that any blame should be put upon Mr. Auslander is simply insensitive and very opinionated based on ignorance. (Judge Not, Jo Ann) Kim Raffo, the other women and all the families of these women were VICTIMS!

Kudos to Lilibeth in WA for being the only one to see and comment on the fact that Mr. Auslander showed UNCONDITIONAL LOVE� We should all be so lucky to find that kind of love in life for not many people are capable of giving it!

As for the comment from M.Wong from Los Angeles, I am almost certain you are a man. In fact, you sound like a misogynist! You don�t know that these people turned to prostitution to support drug habits; there are many reasons why people turn to prostitution. Kim didn�t give up her family and children; they were taken from her due to her drug addiction. Yes, people choose to do their drugs but not many people CHOOSE to become an addict! Addiction is more of a circumstance due to the bad choices people make. Most people who do drugs do them to escape the pain the feel, numb the reality they live in or to socialize (partying), kind of like the way people become alcoholics (which by the way, alcohol is a drug also, be it legal or not!) AS for your comment on people hooking up in bars for one-night stands and �giving it away�, maybe you are projecting. You sound like a man shunned from a pick up that never happened. Plenty of people go to bars, clubs and not for the reasons of a one-night stand. As for your opinion on prostitution being legal, statistics show that most people who pay prostitutes are married men�are you married?? Imp ashamed to say that you and I are from the same city, for most Californians are more open minded than you

To Linda, the mother of an addict, from Bella Vista� I know your pain and I know from experience. I put my mother through the same pain you have experienced. I can give you and others a glimpse of the world an addict lives in and it isn�t pretty. You see, I was an addict myself in the early 80�s. My drug of choice was cocaine/freebased (crack in today�s terms) I was a single parent with a 5 year old child at the time that was my whole world. My addiction started out as a socializing thing, a few lines here, a few lines there and then someone offered me a freebase hit. Drugs can induce euphoric feelings. I remember my mother tried everything she could to get me off drugs, she tried intervention, she called hotlines and they told her there was nothing she could do, that I would have to Want to stop before I could. They advised her to turn away to save herself from the grief I was causing. I didn�t WANT to stop because I didn�t feel I had a problem, I thought I was just partying with my friends. The more the people who cared about me tried to stop me and point out my behaviors, the more I fell into denial. I could not see that I had a problem at first. My mother came to my house and took my child and at that point I knew everything was wrong�.Yet, I could not control the drugs, the drugs controlled ME. The worst thing about crack is it makes the user NOT CARE about anything but the drug and having it. It�s a physical need. The body craves it. I wanted to stop and be a good mom, yet I couldn�t!!! I no longer controlled anything and all I cared about was my next hit!
What finally made me realize I was truly addicted like everyone was telling me was after staying up for 10 nights straight doing drugs, I dozed off and was awakened by my partner who was blowing smoke into my mouth as I was sleeping! I asked him if he had gotten me addicted on purpose and he admitted that he had so he could control me and keep me with him. At that point, I was no longer having periods, I couldn�t eat or even drink water. My body was shutting down and I knew I would die and my child would no longer have a mother if I didn�t get away from the drugs and everyone I knew who did them. It was the love for my daughter that made me WANT to live and the unconditional love and help from my mother that gave me the strength to quit drugs. We couldn�t afford rehab so I moved into an apartment and didn�t tell anyone from my drug world where I lived. It took me 2 months to detox myself. Withdrawals are a horrible thing. I craved cocaine for a year after detoxing. I could even taste it randomly, out of nowhere. In that first year I smoked again, twice�.. not because I went looking for it or wanted it but because �friends� brought it over. These were friends who knew I was no longer doing drugs�.like you said �addicts love company� and they wanted to bring me down to where they were. If it were not for the unconditional love my mother gave me and the unconditional love I had for my own child, I wouldn�t be here today. I am not religious but I have faith and I will pray for you and your family and that your child can be saved from drugs.

To Mr. Auslander, my heart breaks for you and your children. You will never know now, but if this had not happened to your wife and she was still living, your unconditional love may have very well saved her as time went on. The fact that you were there for her, gave her someone to turn to and she may have even wanted to but couldn�t because the drug controlled her. You�re a great man and father. Please try to feel good about that. Your children are blessed to have you, as you are to have them. As your grief lessens in time I hope you find love again, you deserve to love and be loved.

Best regards,

Susan�. Los Angeles, CA

To the editor: should you decide to post my comments, feel free to edit out anything you feel may be inappropiate
Posted By Anonymous Susan LosAngeles, California : 12:56 AM ET
As seen in the footage, besides handing out contraceptives to prostitutes, a comprehensive drug detox program would be a great idea on the streets of Nevada.
Posted By Anonymous Ratna, New York, NY : 7:13 AM ET
As the sister of a recovering heroin addict, I know Mr Auslander's pain. Addiction is a disease, and unfortunately mainstream America doesn't see it like that. This story just shows that drugs can hit anyone... even loving mothers and wives. Very scary. I hope they catch the sicko responisble for these deaths.

May Kim rest in peace and may her family overcome their grief.
Posted By Anonymous Christine, Toms River, NJ : 10:20 AM ET
I find it ironic the number of postings here declaring sympathy and understanding when in reality so many people turn away from prostitutes. They are looked upon with disgust and contempt. I know because I used to be one. It is not a life one chooses and you knowingly put your life in danger every time you go to that hotel room or get into that car. There is nothing more vile than the act of selling sex. That straight laced church going man on your block is the one who requesting the most vile disgusting sexual acts one could imagine all while wearing a wedding ring but if you haven't been there you can't imagine. You don't want to and I find it hard to believe the people voicing so much compassion here would stop to help this woman if she was on their corner. I'm sure the cops would have been called or they would have simply driven past her without a second thought.
Posted By Anonymous Katherine, Woodland Hills CA : 11:29 AM ET
I remember about 15 years ago, I was in my early 20'S with no child. I was every day downtown Montreal,for work & school. It was normal for me to see homeless people and prostitute. It was part of my scenery and at night, I would go back to my little safe suburb.
But one night, I was sitting in a McDonald waiting for friends when 3 prostitutes sat down at the table beside me. Usually, I'm the kind of person that minds her own business but I was struck by the young age of 2 of them. 14,15 years old. THe third one was in her thirties maybe. She was motherly with them, talking about the "business", giving them advice. THen, she called her boyfriend or husband and talked to her two kids. Asking them about their day,their homework, kissing them goodnight and telling them she would see them in the morning. I couldn't help but look at her and I had tears in my eyes. She smiled at me, got up, put her hand on my shoulder and told me: "They don't know I'm doing that for a job. But, when you have kids, you do wathever it takes". It was the first time I really stopped and think about the human behind the prostitute. Now, I am a mother, I don't think I would turn to prostitution,I don't have it in me. But, I often look at people and wonder what their stories are. I do not judge. I hope her kids(the lady in your story) will have help and support.

Joanne Ranzell
Laval Quebec
Posted By Anonymous Joanne Ranzell Laval Quebec : 12:48 PM ET
To Susan from Los Angeles, I think you misunderstood my comment. I was not placing blame on anyone, I was only suggesting that something was "actually" missing from the scenario presented by Mr. Mattingly. On the contrary, I have great sympathy and respect for Mr. Auslander, who chose to stick by someone with a drug problem. I just find it hard to believe that Ms. Raffo would choose to take crack for no reason whatsoever.

Based on your comments I can understand why you are so emotional about this subject, but maybe you should take your own advice and not jump to conclusions about others.
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 1:15 PM ET
I have a family member who has been "chemically dependent". And I disagree when people say things like "They are a victim" or "They didn't give up their life, it was taken from them".

These people took the drugs. They made the choice. They disregarded their families, their upbringing, and they knew right from wrong. Their mothers cried for them while they indulged themselves. They weren't always addicted, they chose to become addicted. And they are not victims. Their families and those who loved them are the real "victims".

This speaks volumes about the world we live in.
Posted By Anonymous Bill W Coatesville, PA : 1:44 PM ET
After reading about the four female victims found in the marsh, it struck me how in one story you see the worst of humanity, and in the case of Kim Raffo's husband the best of humanity a man who knew that the woman he loved was still there underneath her addiction and was waiting for her. It is very sad that her two children lost their mother but I believe that with their father's help they will still feel this world is a loving place.
Posted By Anonymous Shannon, Elkton MD : 1:57 PM ET
We just took my nieces away from my brother(was raising them by himself) who is a crack addict and has been one for 20 years. He tried to stay straight but refused to get the help that he knew he needed. He always wants to take the easy way out and will not take advice from anyone. Addiction is an illness but he has had more chances than anyone I know and when he's sober is the best person in the world. We cant do anything else for him now. But we can for his kids. I feel Mr. Auslander's pain. Everyone suffers when a family member has this problem. I will pray that this family receives the healing they need.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon T Tampa, FL : 2:52 PM ET
If only the people with far fewer problems to overcome had this much love and compassion for their chosen mate . . . our nation would have fewer single-parent households.
Posted By Anonymous Paula, Salem, Oregon : 5:22 PM ET
The reasons for drug addiction and or prostitution are many. The result is simple. Heartbreak for all involved.
Posted By Anonymous Fionbharr Gunderhoff, Lexington Ky : 8:49 PM ET
Ive been torn up since i found out the news of kim raffo,my sister in law..at one time we were all very close and i loved her as much as anyone. i knew her since i was a teenager she was like a sister to me and was truly a wonderful woman and mother . i havent spoke to my brother yet but it kills me to see him go through so much pain as well as the kids. i would do anything to help them ease the pain and also wish i could speak to him or even see them all again soon ..with all my love ,matt
Posted By Anonymous matt auslander fort lauderdale florida : 4:47 AM ET
It is a shame that we do not see some good in all people.
Posted By Anonymous jimmy winterhaven fl : 11:06 PM ET
This article shows how abominable it is that drugs and prostitiution are illegal. If drugs weren't so expensive and linked to the "criminal element", housewives wouldn't turn to prostitution to support their habits. They probably wouldn't develop the habit in the first place. The so called "war on drugs" is a joke. It only puts more money into the pockets of the sellers and re-sellers and draws more people into criminal activities.
Posted By Anonymous herman nashville, tn : 3:59 PM ET
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