It seemed like a quiet night on Buckius Street when a man grabbed a passerby by the throat. The stranger, knife in hand, dragged her victim into a dark alley, hit her on the head several times and asked her to unbutton her pants. Faced with the woman’s resistance, the individual tried to strangle her, but her cries for help ended up causing the aggressor to flee.

Stunned by what had just happened, the woman called for help and a patrol arrived quickly. Minutes later, officers detained a suspect, Noel Quintana. However, his arrest would lead investigators to imprison an innocent man. A tremendous mistake, since the real author was still at large and he was a dangerous serial killer.

Antonio Rodríguez was born on October 28, 1988 in Camden (New Jersey) with his African-American twin brother. However, from their first days of life, the little ones were under the guardianship and protection of state social services. In fact, the brothers were sent to a foster home, that of the Puerto Rican couple Rodríguez. Later, the couple obtained legal adoption of the children, who were already five years old.

The Rodríguezes were “very good and honest people,” describes Simone, one of our protagonist’s ex-girlfriends. She talks about a normal and beloved family in the neighborhood, who never caused any problems.

As for the twins, the children grew up in an environment where Spanish was their predominant language, and where their first contacts with English were already at school. There, his companions, for example, nicknamed Antonio The Black. And, despite the fact that both brothers were identical, people differentiated them without problem.

Throughout his school years, Antonio showed himself to be a hyperactive, fun and joking boy, fond of soccer and reading. His demeanor was that of a “kind, gentle, pleasant and affectionate person,” Simone assured. An attitude that he also showed in the sexual field, where he was never violent or aggressive.

However, in the last stage of high school, drugs came into Antonio’s life and he began to consume and traffic drugs. His addiction led him to cross the line of legality and be arrested twice on possession charges in 2009. He was even shot six blocks from the family home in a sort of reckoning.

From that situation, Antonio retains a scar that goes from the lobe of his left ear to the middle of his throat: they had to perform a tracheostomy. Already in June 2010, the young man was arrested on new charges of trafficking marijuana and cocaine and sentenced to three months in prison. He remained at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Center until August 29, when he was released.

On October 21, Antonio pleaded guilty to this latest serious crime against public health and was sentenced to probation. Among the conditions imposed, he had the obligation to send his DNA to the Philadelphia police to enter it into his database.

This occurred on October 25, but due to the delay of more than 5,000 cases to include the information in the system, the DNA of this criminal was not available until January of the following year, the date by which he had already committed three of his crimes. .

Between November 3 and December 15, 2010, Antonio selected women from the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia, just four blocks from where he grew up, to commit brutal murders. The murderer, who at that time lived in an abandoned house, approached this area frequented by prostitutes with addiction problems to pay for their services.

However, sex was not the goal, but sadism and death. Taking advantage of this situation of vulnerability, Antonio deceived the prostitutes into believing that he would give them drugs and pay them for having sexual relations. But when the moment of truth came, the victims ended up being beaten, raped and strangled. Suffocating them with his own hands allowed him to control the speed at which these women died, something that stimulated him sexually. So much so that, once they were dead, Antonio desecrated their bodies and raped them again.

On November 3, 2010, Elaine Goldberg, 21, was found dead in a parking lot with obvious signs of having been raped and strangled. Among the evidence collected, the police found a DNA sample from her, but when they entered it into the database, there was no match.

Twenty-five days after the first crime, Antonio acted again. But on this occasion, despite the force used, his victim was able to break free and ask for help. He decided to flee and, minutes later, a patrol detained an innocent man, Noel Quintana, who was unjustly accused of this assault. Time and two more murders would prove this man right.

On November 31, the body of sex worker Nicole Piacentini, 27, was found in similar circumstances as Elaine and less than a mile from where her body was found. In this second case, the police again found unknown DNA. When entering it into the database, it didn’t work either. Of course, there was a match with the one located at the Elaine Goldberg crime scene.

The news hit the media and speculation began about a serial strangler. The information spread like wildfire, which led to an unexpected result: four women went to the police station to report similar assaults with the same modus operandi.

Fifteen days later, Antonio killed Casey Mahoney, 35, a woman who was trying to get out of the world of drugs and prostitution. Her body was found in woods near railway tracks in the Kensington area. The similarities between the three murders fueled rumors of a dangerous serial killer roaming the streets, so the police decided to publish images of the attacker in the media.

It was a video from a security camera of an establishment, in which you could see a black man, around 20 years old, with long sideburns, who had a very characteristic way of walking, and who supposedly told a of his victims who was called “Anthony”.

On January 17, Antonio Rodríguez was arrested thanks to citizen collaboration: a viewer identified him when seeing his image on television and brought him to the attention of the authorities. The Kensington Strangler was arrested in an abandoned house where he lived after being released from prison.

During the arrest, the young man appeared calm and docile. In fact, the researchers were struck by the apparent stability and kindness in the interrogation compared to the brutality used in the attacks. In his defense, Antonio said that he never wanted to kill his victims and that he knew he had to stop.

As the interrogation progressed, the strangler recounted his modus operandi and stated that it was all due to a fantasy, that of having “rough sex” with women. Hence he drowned them with his own hands. But his story didn’t hold up. If he didn’t want to kill them, why did he rape them once they were dead? The forensic psychiatrists who examined the detainee were clear: he enjoyed and was excited by killing.

The delay in his arrest caused a strong controversy in public opinion: the police had the DNA of his murderer for months, but the database was not updated due to the saturation of samples. Therefore, if information had been up to date, the murders of Nicole and Casey could have been prevented.

In August 2012, the trial began against Antonio Rodríguez for three counts of first-degree murder, whose acts were described as horrible by the judge in the case, Jeffrey Minehart. “Not only did you rape these young women while they were alive, but you also raped them when they were dead,” the magistrate stated during the reading of the verdict.

The Kensington Strangler was found guilty on all charges, sentenced to three consecutive life sentences, and transferred to Rockview State Correctional Institution (SCI Rockview) in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams did not hesitate to publicly show his joy at the conviction. “The city of Philadelphia is a little safer tonight now that Antonio Rodríguez will spend the rest of his life behind bars,” he said to the media gathered outside the courtroom.