The discovery of a woman's body Friday afternoon in a Kensington house drew a swift response from the task force investigating the Kensington Strangler, but police said it was too early to know if there was a connection or even if the woman was a homicide victim.
The body of the young woman was discovered inside a two-story rowhouse in the 2800 block of C Street, near Kensington Avenue, around 4 p.m., police said. Officials said they were waiting for a medical examiner to determine the cause of death.
In recent weeks, police believe, one man may have sexually assaulted and killed three women and attacked others. The bodies of Elaine Goldberg, 21; Nicole Piacentini, 35; and Casey Mahoney, 27, were all found partially nude in abandoned lots in the neighborhood.
On Friday evening, police sealed off C Street to traffic and officers from the Crime Scene Unit carried out paper bags full of evidence.
City records show the house is owned by Lawrence Hollman. Neighbors, who know him only as Larry, said he is in his 60s, lives alone except for two pet Chihuahuas, and lets people stay at his house, possibly charging them by the day or for shorter periods.
His wife died several years ago, said neighbor Vanessa Gonzalez, 19. A few months ago, his water was shut off and he survived off buckets of water from neighbors.
Nicole Sánchez, 17, said Larry came to her family's house on Friday "crying, saying he didn't do it."
Larry said a man and a woman in her early 20s were dropped off Thursday night by another man, who then drove away, Sánchez said. She said Larry told her that the man and woman stayed upstairs overnight and may have been using drugs.
About 11:30 a.m. Friday, she said, the man left the house, telling Larry that the woman was still asleep on the first floor. When Larry checked on her, Sánchez said, she was unresponsive. He placed a blanket over her body and called 911, she said.
"He don't mess with nobody," Sánchez said. "He's a quiet guy."
The house is a few blocks from the Somerset station of the Market-Frankford El, which runs above Kensington Avenue. The area is a magnet for drug addicts and the dealers who supply them.
A total of $37,000 in reward money is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the strangler.