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Violence highlights Kensington demise

Some residents have tried preventing the deterioration of their neighborhood, but prostitutes seem undeterred by sex-related violence.

Last November, Philadelphia police were tracking suspects responsible for brutally beating women and raping them. Authorities eventually charged two men.

Fast-forward to this year and police are now searching for the so-called “Kensington Strangler,” who could be responsible for four attacks, including two murders.

The common ground for the brutal attacks and slayings? Kensington.

Once a leader of the country’s textile industry, the low-income area has become a haven for sexual predators. Kensington Avenue, the area’s thoroughfare, has long been known for drug use and prostitution. Due to their backgrounds, many victims hesitate to go to police.

“Some of these women are considered in law enforcement circles to be high-risk victims,” said Capt. John Darby, head of the city’s Special Victims Unit. “They’re out on the highway, overnight hours, they’re alone. But they are victims...you never want to dismiss the fact that a crime has occurred.”

Despite the latest attacks, prostitutes remain on Kensington Avenue.

Katie, 29, said she has been walking the street for two years to feed a drug habit. When asked if she’s afraid of possibly being the next strangling victim, she said, “No. I’m cautious. ... I usually go with people I know.”

Another woman, who only identified herself as “Little Redz,” said the attacks are part of life as a prostitute. She added that she’s “not scared, not petrified, but I’m aware more than ever.”

 
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