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Vigilantism discouraged in Philly strangler search

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By Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A serial killer who police say sexually assaulted and strangled three women, and possibly attacked three others, in a neighborhood rife with drugs and prostitution might want to hope that authorities find him before the neighbors do.

Residents of Kensington, who once severely beat a suspected rapist based on a police photo, have posted hundreds of comments and theories about the case on a Facebook page titled "Catch the Kensington Strangler, before he catches someone you love."

One post that falsely identified a suspect led to an angry crowd outside the man's home. Fearing vigilantes, he called police — who later cleared him, and then scolded residents.

"We will not tolerate anyone taking vigilante action," Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey warned. "If you see someone suspicious, call 911. We will get there. We will handle."

Police on Tuesday linked a third slaying to a predator who they say raped, beat and strangled two women over the past few weeks. Three other women have reported being sexually assaulted; two of them said they were choked into unconsciousness.

So far, police only have a composite sketch and grainy surveillance photo of a possible suspect; $37,000 in reward money is being offered.


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