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Husband of Slain Prostitute Mourns Wife

November 25, 2006

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) _ The husband of a slain prostitute found near Atlantic City sat in front of a makeshift cross as he cried and prayed for his late wife, whose suffocated body was found here less then a week ago.

At the makeshift memorial service Saturday, friends and family of Kim Raffo described a tormented woman who left her husband and kids for a life of drugs and prostitution.

``She deserved a better life,″ Hugh Auslander, 42, of Brooklyn, N.Y., said of his estranged wife, whose body was found Monday along with those of three other women in a ditch behind a strip of seedy motels.

Authorities have made no arrests in the case that has terrified many in this gambling community and left some wondering whether the deaths are the work of a serial killer.

``She was trying to get her life together, but she couldn’t get away,″ said John Pesce, 46, a friend of Raffo’s who was among a small group gathered Saturday outside the Golden Key Motel.

With yellow police crime tape still strung nearby, Auslander sat in front of the cross Saturday and read from the Bible. He later said that he read a prayer for the overthrow of the wicked.

Officials late Friday identified a second woman whose body was found in the ditch as Tracy Ann Roberts, 23, and are using DNA samples and photographs to try to identify the remaining two women. They also released photos Saturday night showing tattoos, including a bulldog and a Playboy bunny inside a heart, on one of the unidentified victims.

Similarities have been discovered in the women and their death. Three of the four were blonde. All were barefoot, and their bodies were arranged face-down with their heads pointing east toward the Atlantic City casinos. Based on the degree of decomposition, the bodies appear to have been dumped in the ditch at varying times.

Roberts, whose last known address was in Atlantic City, died from asphyxia, said Atlantic County Prosecutor Jeffrey S. Blitz on Friday. But he said it was still not clear how she was killed.

Charles Coles, a rooming house resident in Atlantic City who said he knew both Raffo and Roberts, told The Star-Ledger of Newark that Roberts was new to the streets. His sister Shakira Coles said Roberts was from Philadelphia and had spoken often about returning.

``I guess she was miserable not having money and having to get out there and deal with the streets,″ Shakira Coles told the newspaper.

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