Editor’s note: A series of attacks on women in Kensington has sent waves of fear through the community, particularly among prostitutes who work the area. Elizabeth Fiedler rode a stretch of Frankford and Kensington avenues with a woman who recently escaped that life.She’s been off the streets for more than a year, but when she heard about the murders, the 47-year old former street walker urged her niece, who’s still out there, to get help.”I’m tellin’ her that she’s gonna die and…she’s gigglin’ like it’s a joke cause she’s caught up in addiction,” she says.Dressed in jeans and a black leather jacket, the former prostitute says she doesn’t want to use her real name. Her thick blond hair hangs over her shoulders — she almost seems to hide behind it. She says she’s afraid to be out here. She doesn’t want to be the next victim of the “Kensington Strangler,” and she doesn’t want to be tempted back into the life she left behind. ‘”Right up here’s Somerset. They call it the Walkin’ Dead up here because everybody’s all doped up and noddin’ and dippin’. Right now it’s too cold – there aren’t many people out,” she says.”By that store right there they hang and right on this corner right here, over in that corner there, you can see ’em all. These are all people that are caught up in the grips of addictions. The girl right there is comin’ out from coppin.’ It’s crazy. It really is crazy.” Like many women, she says, she sold herself to support a drug habit — mostly crack — and drinking. “It’s bad, it’s real bad,” she says. “A lot of guys trying to rob you. I almost got killed three times by ‘dates.’ you know. Doors locked and you can’t get out of the car … It’s real scary out here.”She says she’s been clean for 14 months … since she was arrested for prostitution. Now she goes to AA and NA meetings, she’s reconnecting with her family, and she’s studying to get her GED. She hopes some day she can help other women do the same.
To hear more from Kensington women about a neighborhood that is increasingly dangerous watch the video below.