WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) – A woman whose body was found this week in Maine is the fourth to be found dead who had ties to drugs and prostitution in Worcester’s Main South neighborhood.

Officials in Maine, where her body was found, have not disclosed the cause of death. And investigators in Massachusetts say it’s too soon to link her death to three others they have said may be the work of a serial killer.

Wendy A. Morello, 40, was identified Friday. Her body was found Monday in a trash container in a wooded area near the York River by a man who was walking by.

Morello’s family last saw her Sept. 5, one of her two daughters, Amanda Morello, 19, told the Telegram & Gazette of Worcester. Amanda Morello said she had filed a missing persons report with Worcester police the day the body was discovered 95 miles away.

Wendy Morello had received a brief jail sentence in July on a prostitution charge after a sting in the Main South area, according to Worcester Central District Court records cited by the newspaper. She had battled with drug problems, police and relatives said.

At a news conference on Friday, Worcester Acting Police Chief Paul F. Campbell noted the physical similarities between Morello and the three victims found in the past year, but would not comment further. Morello was petite and had brown hair and eyes.

The remains of Betzaida Montalvo, 29, and Carmen Rudy, 29, were found in September 2003 on the wooded grounds of a private school near Marlboro. Dinelia Torres, 33, was found in March, about a mile away from the others. All three were prostitutes who had battled drug addiction and been helped at the same Worcester shelters.

Morello was identified from fingerprint and dental records, and by her family through photographs. She also had a distinctive tattoo, her daughter said.

“It was a tattoo of a rose on the outside of the right ankle with my name on it,” Amanda Morello told the Telegram & Gazette.

Morello’s family does not believe she was the victim of a serial killer.

Representatives of the Middlesex District Attorney’s office, which is investigating the other three women’s deaths, have said it is premature to make a connection with the other deaths, though they have been in touch with Maine and Worcester police on the Morello case.

Worcester police are trying to reconstruct Morello’s movements in the days before her death.

She had no reason to be in Maine, relatives said.

Her brother, Stephen Lavallee of Barre said she was trying to improve her life.

“She loved her kids. She was getting help. Even with all this, she was a good mother. There is nothing she wouldn’t do for her kids,” he told the Telegram & Gazette.


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