Inside the Kensington strangler suspect’s mind

The man taken into police custody Monday night and suspected as the Kensington Strangler confessed to the three murders yesterday, sources said.

Antonio Rodriguez, 22, has not yet been charged with the crimes, but authorities are waiting for confirmation on a second DNA sample taken from him. Authorities said Monday that a previous sample from Rodriguez definitively matched that found at the crime scenes. He is expected to be charged in the murders of Elaine Goldberg, Nicole Piacentini and Casey Mahoney.

During his confession, Rodriguez was soft-spoken and even wept at times, according to a source close to the investigation. “There were times he started to cry, shake his head in disappointment,” said the source, who said Rodriguez did not give a reason for the killings, and said the young man did not appear as “a savage.” A police spokesman would not comment on whether he confessed.

“It appears to be a 22-year-old kid who is hypersexed. … It wasn’t like he was going out prowling,” said the source.

Police collared Rodriguez at a house in Kensington thanks to a tip from an anonymous caller minutes after authorities identified him as a “strong” person of interest. Rodriguez was released from prison at the end of August after serving nearly three months for a drug felony.

At age 5 or 6, Rodriguez and his brother were adopted by a Hispanic family who taught him fluent Spanish and gave him their last name, according to neighbors. Attempts yesterday to reach the family were unsuccessful.

He came from ‘decent family,’ neighbor says

KENSINGTON – Neighbor Pete Alicea says he knew Antonio Rodriguez, whose birth name was Albert, since he was about 6 years old, and talked to him often.

“He was a good kid,” said Alicea, who lived about a half-block from Rodriguez’s adoptive parents. “He grew up with my daughter, too; everybody knew him.”

He said Rodriguez wanted to join the Navy, but started hanging out with neighborhood youths and got involved with drugs in recent years.

Still, he was surprised to hear police identify Rodriguez as a suspect in the killings:?“I was surprised, oh yeah, because I knew the kid and I knew that with good advice he would have been somebody. It’s a shame. To me, it’s a shame something like that happened.”

How the arrest went down

KENSINGTON – Minutes after a tipster said the alleged Kensington Strangler was in a house on Mutter Street, more than a dozen police officers converged on the area. Some blocked escape routes along the alley behind the house. Others ran to the front door and looked through a window.

After an officer saw an unknowing Antonio Rodriguez standing in the kitchen, among several other people inside, someone let a team — including homicide detectives Victor Davila and William Golphin as well as Special Victims Unit detectives Jimmy Owens and Eddie Lichtenhahn — inside.