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Trenton Addict Charged With Four Stranglings, One Rape

August 8, 1996

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) _ A crack addict confessed to raping and strangling four prostitutes during sex-for-drugs exchanges after a fifth rape victim who escaped later identified her attacker, police said Thursday.

Deputy police chief Joseph Constance said Anthony Balaam, 31, was arrested Wednesday and charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault, robbery and weapons charges.

Balaam, who is unemployed and has a history of arrests on drug and burglary charges, was arrested at his home Wednesday and was being held at police headquarters pending arraignment Friday.

Constance said he’s ``one of the calmest and coolest murderers that I’ve encountered″ in 27 years on the job.

He ``shows absolutely no remorse and comes off as a nice guy,″ Constance added.

Despite the charges, police hesitated to call Balaam a serial killer, and said he was not a suspect in several similar, high-profile sex-for-drugs killings in the state capital over the past four years.

The crimes Balaam is charged with occurred over the past 22 months within 2 miles of his home. Police said he encountered his victims in the predawn hours, while cruising neighborhoods where women regularly swap sex for crack cocaine.

Last Feb. 16, the woman who was raped escaped. Police became convinced from details of the attack and the weapon used that the rapist was also the strangler they were seeking.

DNA from semen taken from the victims and other laboratory results linked two killings and the rape, Constance said. Despite the difficulties of interviewing reluctant witnesses, Balaam eventually became a suspect, and the rape victim identified him as her attacker after his arrest.

Outside police headquarters Thursday, a friend of Balaam’s protested loudly to reporters that he was a drug addict but no killer.

``He would never do anything like that,″ said Priscilla Hollis, 47, who said one of her daughters had a 10-year relationship with Balaam and has two children by him. ``I think they made him confess.″

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