Man With a Thousand Faces: What the Cops Will Do to Catch the Strangler

By Tara Murtha
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 21 | Posted Jan. 12, 2011

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Sanchez wants the Strangler off the streets just as badly as everyone else. Maybe even more. His sister, Diane, claims that she faced down the killer last month following an argument with a friend that left her unexpectedly alone on Kensington Avenue. As she dialed a pay phone to call Sanchez for a ride, a man with a striking resemblance to the police sketch—she says he even had the slight limp evident in surveillance video—walked up to her and lit her cigarette before she recognized him. Fortunately, he didn’t attack her.

The family already lost one sister to the streets of Kensington. In 2003, Sanchez’s sister Joanna died of AIDS. “She was out here prostituting. She was doing drugs,” he says. “I’d see her come in the house, scabbed up … having just escaped getting raped. I grew up around all that and it hurts you, to see your family to go through that.”

Sanchez says that because of those experiences he has a different perspective on the murders.

“I have friends who are like, ‘[It's] just another hooker, another prostitute.’ [I say], that’s somebody’s sister, somebody’s mother.”

He pauses before adding, “Somebody’s daughter.”


Street Intelligence

Initially Sanchez was reluctant to file a complaint against the police, but he had a system-savvy heavy looking out for him who wasn’t about to let the incident slide.

“I forced him to file a complaint,” says 46-year-old Greg Bucceroni, coordinator of Crime Victim Services/Youth At Risk program and Sanchez’s common-law brother-in-law. “Chino didn’t want to go to the cops. Guys similar to Chino who [get] stopped … their thing is not to go to the police to complain about police, they’re going to blast music, smoke a blunt, drink a 40oz and tell their friends, ‘Fuck the police.’”

Instead, Bucceroni says he accompanied Sanchez down to Internal Affairs at police headquarters to file a formal complaint.

Bucceroni, a former juvenile delinquent turned anti-crime and victims’ services crusader, has been watching out for Sanchez since he was a kid. He says when he first heard that his brother-in-law had been stopped and swabbed for DNA, he wanted to “bust heads.” Especially since he was with Sanchez minutes before the incident and recalls some officers eyeing Sanchez up while he was standing next to him at the mayor’s press conference.

“They came up to me and inquired who he was, and I said, ‘he’s my brother-in-law, and he volunteers,’” Bucceroni says. “They waited for me to turn the corner, and then they pounced on him.”

Bucceroni is a local legend. As the oft-repeated lore goes, he was a troublemaking Philly kid who ran away to New York City where he ran errands for infamous mobsters like Henry Hill and assorted good-fellas.

“I was a wannabe junior mobster,” he says.

Bucceroni’s life changed around 1976 when the Son of Sam killer struck New York, earning the NYPD unwanted mass media attention. Bucceroni recalls that the department, struggling at the time to break the case, essentially bribed local hoodlums with sneakers and food to help them catch the killer by doing things like passing out fliers and talking locals into tipping police—the same kind of stuff he and Sanchez have been doing in Kensington.

Ultimately, it was a tip from a woman at a community meeting that cops initially overlooked—dismissing her as a crackpot, Bucceroni says—that led to solving the murders.

Ever since then, Bucceroni sees himself as an intermediary, bridging the gap between authorities and citizens to help everyday quality-of-life issues. His combination of fearlessness and ability to navigate bureaucracy—and his ability to communicate effectively in both worlds—makes him uniquely qualified to act as street intelligence. The PPD knows him both for his brash brand of activism and because two of his brothers are former Philadelphia police officers.

Bucceroni claims that since the incident with Sanchez, he’s spoken with 25 local young men who claim they’ve also had their cheeks scrubbed for DNA without proper protocol.

“They told me how the police pulled their gun, threw them on the ground and made them give a swab,” says Bucceroni, adding that he hands the men the the phone number for the Police Advisory Commission and encourages them to file a complaint.

“So far, there’s been 154 swabs taken from various individuals along the Kensington corridor,” announced at the Dec. 21 press conference.

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Comments 1 - 21 of 21
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1. c r said... on Jan 12, 2011 at 10:56AM

“if it walks like a duck, talks like a duck...”

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2. Mike said... on Jan 12, 2011 at 01:32PM

“"If this was white America—upper-class white America—you’d have … some cracker-fabulous motherfucker down here protesting. But it’s OK to violate young Latino males in Kensington.”

Wow man. Way to take a good point, and make it sound ignorant by filling it with race-baiting and ethnic slurs.

This is why good people, smart people, never make it out of places like Kensington. Because they refuse to communicate above a 9th grade level, and the world will never take them seriously.

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3. Anonymous said... on Jan 12, 2011 at 03:53PM

“So....It sounds like you're not too concerned with the cops catching this dude but that some Latino who fits the descriptions rights are violated. Just amazing, nothing like helping the police. All these guys that fit the description should voluntarily have their DNA checked, or are they afraid of being guilty of something. Man up!!”

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4. Charles Denson said... on Jan 12, 2011 at 04:14PM

“Why would anybody be against this?! If the killer was in Ireland, do you think all the Irishmen would be crying foul if the cops were stopping them?
Save your neighborhood and stop hating on the cops and stop dressing like slobs who just got let out of prison and don't fit their clothes and maybe you won't be stopped alot.”

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5. Jeff said... on Jan 12, 2011 at 05:00PM

“I don't care what race he is and what he dresses like, the point is his rights were violated and the cop was a jerk. The "stop and frisk law" is a violation of our Constitutional 4th amendment rights and Nutter is a jerk for putting this in place. Learn your history people and remember exactly WHY the American Revolution was fought.”

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6. Anonymous said... on Jan 12, 2011 at 07:53PM

“It would be prudent if this person shaved the goatee and got a haircut just to avoid resembling the suspect and getting tapped.

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7. Anonymous said... on Jan 13, 2011 at 06:55AM

“Wow....5 page article and no tipline#?”

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8. Ray said... on Jan 13, 2011 at 01:20PM

“The police will can never do the right thing when their methods are forever criticized. Sorry Chino, if you know that by dressing the way you do resmebles the sketch of the person of interest, then you should expect to be stopped by the police. Stop bitchin'!”

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9. Mike said... on Jan 13, 2011 at 02:40PM

“I can pretty much guarantee that if the people saying "who cares, swab everyone" lived in a neighborhood like ours (kensington) they'd change their tune real quick. The police feel they can and literally do anything they want. I'm a white law abiding male, and if the police did this to me I would be filing legal actions in a heartbeat, I was sitting by my work waiting for my girlfriend to pick me up and was questioned by police. For waiting to get a ride, they didn't believe me and even went as far as making me go get my boss to prove I worked there. Why? No clue, they never said why they wanted to know what I was doing. You CANNOT stop and frisk anyone for no reason at all and the taking of DNA by threats of forced confinement is completely ILLEGAL. The police are doing a great injustice to actually trying to catch him, if and when they do, if it is because of a stop and frisk the man will walk free out of court. Will you be happy then? Do it the right way and put him away.”

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10. Anonymous said... on Jan 13, 2011 at 09:29PM

“The cops were wrong for breaking the law while investigating this case! The law is the law and no one is above the law! It is easy for certain people on this post to make rude comments regarding Manuel Chino Sanchez and his hip hop culture dress appearence and image. He was not breaking the law and in fact was assisting the cops at a press conference! It is easy for those posting negative comments when thier civil rights were not violated. This kind of stuff happens every day in Philly which truly hurts the good hard working honest men & women in blue reputations.”

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11. Anonymous said... on Jan 13, 2011 at 09:50PM

“Sounds like there are a few racisr on this post that have a problem with the hip hop culture of young black & hispanic males. Why dont you certain posters just put on your white sheets or your uncle tom smiling faces and say yes sir master, you right master, the police can break the law any way they want master as long as aint towards fellow well to do white folk master. Sh"""""""t F"""""""" that dumb racial stuff. Dont talk crap if you guys werent there. Certain cops do this dumb stuff everyday in da hood to residenta of color for no good reason other than cause they have a badge and a negative attitude in life. Im glad that a young spanish brother is standing up and telling the truth against a few bad cops.”

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12. Anonymous said... on Jan 13, 2011 at 10:18PM

“Hey Look it's a bird, it's a plane... it's a person so wronged... suck it up Buttercup. Your'e not the only one who's been through stuff like this....try having people try killing you or setting you up in crimes that you haven't commited or getting involved with underground drug organization and having to play along just to keep yourself alive and the police think you're one of the bad people.”

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13. Jase said... on Jan 14, 2011 at 04:27PM

“Lets say a cop who goes to stop chino takes a "nice" approach, and asks chino politely for a swab. Chino would have still complained.

Lets say chino pulled out a gun on the "nice" cop and shot him. Now the cop is at fault for letting his guard down.

Everyone is a dam judge, however nobody will ever know theyre role until they step in the shoes and paths of those who try to uphold the law.”

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14. Ray said... on Jan 14, 2011 at 05:24PM

“@Anonymous: Racist? Are you kidding me? Chino in this picture is dressed in a way that anywhere outside the city would get him noticed and not in a good way. That's not racist saying so, that's called not being a dumbass. And it makes me wonder if Chino wants to keep looking the same way as the suspect so he will get stopped and then he can complain. Wise up. The cops are doing what they have to do and we should be glad they are, otherwise they would be accused of not doing enough.”

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15. Anonymous said... on Jan 14, 2011 at 08:26PM

“Been a cop and know a little about police procedures & protocall & if Chino committed a crime fine police should be carefull,. but if Chino is walking down the street not committing a crime then there should be rule of engagement for police & citizens.”

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16. Anonymous said... on Jan 14, 2011 at 08:29PM

“Chino doesnt live outside of the city and was walking in hi neighborhood where it is very common for young Latino males in dressing like that. I myself dont dress or look like that but I try not to be opinionated regarding others and thier cultures.”

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17. Anonymous said... on Jan 14, 2011 at 10:25PM

“Bucceroni is a "local legend"??


That "local" is only a legend in his own mind.

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18. Louis said... on Jan 15, 2011 at 09:44AM

“Bucceroni, whether you like him or not? Has at least been active over the years doing something in the neighnorhoods. I have spoken with a few people since the article posted on the streets whom said good things although a few said he was a pain in the butt?????? I dont know if that was good or bad????? but at least the guy is out there doing something, which is more than the average person can say that lives in Kensington.”

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19. Anonymous said... on Jan 25, 2011 at 08:26AM

“The knuckledraggers need to follow the law and obtain a warrant, period. This power will be abused, as always, by the single digit IQ, badge wearing apeman. Cops are just criminals with badges, drunk on power. The media needs to stop apologizing for them.”

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20. Anonymous said... on Jan 25, 2011 at 10:42AM

“It's terrible that this happened, but seriously, Buccerroni, this is no time to make racial slurs and race bait. Citizens of all races should stand up against this clear abuse of power and work to see to it that the cops involved never work the streets again and work to make sure that less affluent citizens, who are frequently targeted this way know their rights. Seriously, the thing to do is to say, "Am I under arrest?" if the cop says, "No." you ask him, "Am I free to go?" If he says no to that, then you should involve your lawyer.

The cops wonder why cops get shot in Philly and no one says anything, this is exactly why. When you violate someone's civil rights, when you use your badge to intimidate people in these neighborhoods, they aren't going to be too sympathetic when your friends get shot. The Philadelphia police department has a serious problem with abusing citizens and until they learn not to take such a heavy handed approach, don't snitch is just gonna continue.”

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21. tom said... on May 29, 2012 at 04:25PM

“if you post things to scare readers look me up without any cops around,let me know,ill meet,all you scums who write things like that need to be spit on,and whatever else.your ignorant mom told you to say those talk race shit,when your the fool,who the hell are you anyway besides a scum,the stranglers a fag who kills sissys,then you cheer him on,i love to blind side you----ended life.he should of got the comment about unfairness to blacks and latins,go to hell,id never hang or like your scumness.he killed with no warning,FEMALES,be a queer and do it up front to me,,ill use my wrists,like he did.your expressions are worthless,degrading comes from fagness in your soul,and i hope god takes itall your cops a busing comes from people like you who start it,i hope when you,your relative---.nobody snitches so i could laugh and crack one.good thing for you there are cops.”


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