The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 5, 1995 · Page 12
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The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania · Page 12

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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Tuesday, September 5, 1995
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Page 12
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A12 ' .1,' . , Tuesday, September 5, 1995; THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER Officer a suspect in New Orleans deaths NEW ORLEANS from A 1 federal drug charges, where the chief of detectives was fired for unethical behavior and where the vice squad was disbanded after a deputy , supervisor in the squad was convicted of robbing bars and strip joints. In the last year alone, two well-publicized instances of police misconduct had particularly galled and outraged this city. ' In December, Officer Len Davis, one of 11 city cops reportedly involved in large-scale drug trafficking, was Charged with ordering the murder-for-hire of a woman who had filed a brutality complaint against him. - The city was stunned, then sickened by published transcripts of FBI wiretaps in which Davis celebrated after the woman was shot in the head from point-blank range. Then, in March, Officer Antoinette Frank, 23, and her 18-year-old nephew were arrested on charges they shot and killed Officer Ronald Williams Jr., 25, and two other people while Frank and her nephew were robbing a Vietnamese restaurant. Williams in city uniform had been moonlighting there as a security guard. Despite a rich and deep history of corruption, it was the first time a cop had been charged with killing a fellow officer. It went beyond two officers who happened to work in the same city: Williams had formerly been Frank's partner. And both had been assigned to the same Seventh District substation in eastern New Orleans as Gant. The department was in a tailspin, morale was shattered, and residents had begun voicing fear of those hired to protect them. The city took steps. By late spring, Police Superintendent Richard Pennington, recruited last October by Mayor Marc Morial to reform the 1,500-officer department, was quietly improving a cadre of officers that had suffered through years of dismal pay, poor training, political puppe- , teering and low recruiting stand- ards. A poll earlier this year by a profes- sor at Xavier University here had found that Pennington's changes were helping restore public confidence. "I think we bottomed out with the Antoinette Frank case," Goyeneche said recently. "I think Richard Pennington demonstrated he was in control of the department, that he wasn't trying to hide anything. And I think the public recognizes that it's going to take time, that you just can't change the superintendent and expect all your problems to go away." This summer, the FBI announced that 24 people who had been picked up, murdered, then dumped naked in isolated areas since 1991 were victims of a single killer. Within days, Pennington said that circumstantial evidence linked Gant to the deaths of two of the victims. Gant's attorney, John Reed, said, "If they had any clear reason to believe Victor Gant is involved, they would arrest him." Gant has declined to discuss the accusations. His girlfriend, Sharon Robinson, a 28-year-old coin changer at a casino here, and Karen Ivester, 30, were found dead hours apart on the last day of April in a swamp along Interstate 55. Both Pennington and Neil Gallagher, head of the FBI's New Orleans office, refused to say whether Gant was a suspect in any of the other killings. Gant has cooperated ' with investigators, Pennington said. Gallagher said the FBI was testing DNA from Gant's blood and saliva to see if it matched evidence from the sites where the two women's bodies were found. Results from those tests are ex pected within about a month. Gallagher said that, although there had been a growing suspicion for months that the killings were the handiwork of a single person, the FBI and area police did not organize a task force to investigate until May. The murders started in August 1991, as the city sweltered under its summer blanket of liquid heat. On Aug. 4, Danielle Britton, 17, from nearby Gretna, was found strangled in a drainage ditch in Al giers, a New Orleans neighborhood across the Mississippi River from the rest of the city. Before the year ended, four other women, all from Algiers, were killed. Police released a composite of a suspect after one woman was at tacked but survived. The murders stopped for six months, then started again on June 2, 1992. This time, the victims were linked to Treme, a timeworn neigh- Nationallnternational news continues on B7 and B8. 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The following is a sample of the properties being offered in this sale: Property Number Type Address City state 120 Retail 12S Market Street Salem NJ 206 Retail 809 West View Park Drive Ross Township PA How-To-Buy SemlnarRTC Seller Financing Workshop & Auction Date and Location: Seminar and Workshop - October 12, 1995 Auction - October 23, 1995 The Sheraton at Woodbrldge Place Iselln, New Jersey Sealed Bid Deadline: October 23, 1995 Broker Participation Welcome RTC Seller Financing will be made available to qualified Investors. For further information and free auction catalog 7264 call: Coordinated by the RTC Valley Forge Sates Center and Kennedy-Wilson International Event I D. Number 720-071 Band 72O0719 EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY PHILADELPHIA NEWSPAPERS INC. ANNOUNCES A nnn vr vy w REWARD FOR INFORMATION LEADING TO THE ARREST AND CONVICTION OF THE PERSON OR PERSONS WHO ATTACKED INQUIRER DRIVER JOE SWEENEY IN CAMDEN ON WEDNESDAY MORNING, AUGUST 9 1995 PLEASE CONTACT THE PATCO POLICE AT 609-772-6900 OR THE CAMDEN COUNTY PROSECUTORS OFFICE AT 609-225-8400 ()Batto-rau4 it every day, r $15,000 has been provided by Philadelphia Newspapers Inc. and J 10,000 Is from Teamsters Local 628 TEAMSTERS LOCAL 628 borhood that adjoins the French Quarter. Four people were killed in 1992; two in 1993. All the victims apparently were lured into a car by a large, muscular man, quickly strangled or suffocated, stripped of their clothes and dumped along roadsides in New Orleans and the surrounding parishes. Some here say that the possibility of a serial killer was not pursued vigorously enough by the police. Also, because some victims were prostitutes and because cocaine was found in their bodies, authorities initially believed they died from drug overdoses. "The quality of the earlier investigations are not up to standard," Gallagher said. Beyond that, some city officials worried that such an acknowledgment would hurt tourism. "It didn't take a genius to know there was a very strong possibility that there was a serial killer at work," said Sanford Krasnoff, head of Victims and Citizens Against Crime, a five-year-old nonprofit group that monitors the state's criminal justice system. "In this area, we've had a major problem with people who don't want to hurt the city's image because they have an interest in the tourism business," Krasnoff said. Then the killer's night rides came with more frequency: six in 1994; seven more through last May. New Orleans is not the only city where such killings have occurred. Within the last year alone, authorities have investigated serial killings of prostitutes in Atlanta, Miami, Jackson, Miss., and the Tampa-Clear-water area of Florida. The odds of any person being murdered by a serial killer are 0.002 per 100,000, but rise to 15 to 20 per 100,000 for streetwalkers, according to Eric W. Hickey, author of the textbook Serial Murderers and Their Victims. In New Orleans, the victims included 17 black women, two white women, four black men and one white man. Most were drug abusers and prostitutes. They are just the sort of people serial killers often seek out, according to experts. Six of them, their bodies unidentified and unclaimed, have been buried without names on their graves. These high Interest fSies , available through September 15, 1995 i 1 1 RATE YIELD . ' TERM 8.25 .S 12 woi. 9.00 9.41 HO mutt. 10.00 10.51 60 !. Rate and terms 3 mos. fo 1 0 yrs. 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