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Master of Scaremonies
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Ritual Murder Expert Talks About AC Killings

POSTED: 5:34 pm EST November 24, 2006
UPDATED: 2:45 am EST November 25, 2006

As nearly two dozen investigators continued to search for clues in the West Atlantic City killings, NBC 10 sat down with a local ritual murder expert to talk about what could have been running through the killer's head as the he or she placed the women in the marshy area behind a row of seedy motels.

Walkers discovered the dead women face-down in a drainage ditch Monday night in Egg Harbor Township, N.J.

Friday, authorities released the identity of a second victim, 23-year-old Tracy Ann Roberts. Autopsy reports show she died from asphyxiation, and investigators believe Roberts may have been in the water anywhere from a couple of days to a week.

Police had previously only identified one other victim, 35-year-old Kim Raffo, whose autopsy results showed she was strangled. Examiners' initial reports on the other two women's cause of death were inconclusive because of severe decomposition. When investigators combed the scene the night of the gruesome discovery, they found many similarities.

They said all of the victims were blonde, noting that none of them was wearing shoes. They were all said to be facing east toward the casinos, too, police said. The four white women thought to be in their 20s and 30s were all placed with their heads facing east and their shoes and socks removed. Police said both Raffo and Roberts have records for prostitution.

Dawn Perlmutter, a ritual murder expert from Yardley, has worked with many police departments all over the country and described what the killer could have felt as he or she arranged the women in the marsh. Although police have not approached Perlmutter for help so far, she has strong opinions regarding the case.

"By definition -- a serial killer -- everything he does is ritual," she explained. "If I were to profile the killer, it's almost like he's revering and desecrating the bodies at the same time." She said the killer could have felt remorseful after the killings, and that's why he took their shoes and socks off.

"To take the time to place them and space them that way -- to remove their shoes, to pose their body -- that's not desecration in the same way as killing them," Perlmutter explained. "That's taking the time to revere them in a certain way. "I think we have a very conflicted perpetrator who may feel guilty after he has done an act that may be prohibilited by his customs," she added. Perlmutter said she intentionally referred to the killer as "he" during the interview because she said it would be extremely unusual for a woman to have committed these killings.
 
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