Suspected Kensington strangler Antonio Rodriguez told detectives that one of his victims asked to stop having sex and struggled with him as he continued, his right hand wrapped around her neck.
A detective questioned why he didn’t stop.
Rodriguez said, according to a statement he gave to police after his Jan. 17 arrest for the deaths of three women.
That answer was as close as Rodriguez came to giving an explanation for the string of rapes and strangulations he has been charged with committing from Nov. 3 to Dec. 15.
During a preliminary hearing Wednesday, two Philadelphia homicide detectives took turns reading the separate confessions Rodriguez gave in each of the three cases.
Rodriguez, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, sat next to his attorney, often rocking back and forth at the defense table as his statements were disclosed publicly for the first time.
In those statements, he admitted killing each woman and having sex with their bodies “a few more times” after they were dead.
After the hearing, Municipal Court Judge Joseph C. Walters ordered the 22-year-old held for trial. Assistant District Attorney Carlos Vega said prosecutors would seek the death penalty.
Rodriguez has pleaded not guilty, and his defense attorney, William Bowe, declined to comment after the hearing.
Rodriguez told homicide detectives James Pitts and Omar Jenkins that he had met all three women on the streets around Kensington and asked them if they were working as prostitutes. He said all three agreed to go with him for sex.
He said that his first victim, 21-year-old Elaine Goldberg, asked to be choked harder during sex, but that he did not intend to kill her.
“Her eyes rolled back, she blinked, and she stopped moving,” he said, according to the statement read by Pitts. “She didn’t tap me. . . . She didn’t let me know if she couldn’t breathe.”
But Vega noted that Goldberg, like the other women, had been beaten, suggesting all three fought back as they were attacked.
When Rodriguez began discussing the second victim, 35-year-old Nicole Piacentini, he said he “let her go” when he noticed she had a bloody nose. One of the detectives reminded him that evidence would prove whether he was telling the truth.
He then admitted raping and strangling Piacentini.
By the time Rodriguez was asked about the third victim, 27-year-old Casey Mahoney, he admitted without prompting that she fought back and scratched him.
“I kind of lost it,” he said in his statement. “I threw her down and forced myself on her.”
DNA evidence has linked Rodriguez to all three deaths, prosecutors said.
Goldberg’s body was found Nov. 3 in a vacant lot. Piacentini’s was discovered Nov. 13 in an abandoned building. Mahoney’s was found Dec. 15 in the woods above a set of train tracks.
Rodriguez also wavered in his answers about how much he knew about the manhunt for the so-called Kensington strangler.
At first, he said that he didn’t know any of the victims’ names and that he wasn’t even sure Goldberg had died. He said that he had heard about the police investigation, but that he never assumed it meant they were looking for him.
“Did you ever give it any real thought?” the detectives asked.
“Not really,” he answered.
He later admitted to wearing a condom with Mahoney, in an attempt to not leave behind any more DNA evidence.
“I knew that you guys were looking for a strangler,” he said. “It was all over the news.”
On the day of his arrest, Rodriguez said, some friends told him police had been to his parents’ house, saying he was the Kensington strangler. The detectives asked why he did not turn himself in.
“Because,” he said, “I knew that I strangled those women.”