2004 Natel King March 25, 2004|By Pamela Lehman Of The Morning Call A photographer and his assistant, who were working on a bondage-themed shoot with a Canadian porn actress, were arrested Wednesday in connection with her slaying. Natel King, 23, was last seen alive Feb. 29 in Conshohocken, when she worked with Anthony J. Frederick, 41, of Eagleville, Montgomery County, and Jennifer Mitkus, 29, of Oaks, Montgomery County, authorities said. King’s partially decomposed body was found Tuesday by a woman walking near the Schuylkill River in Whitemarsh Township.
“My entire life has been turned upside down,” Ontario resident Dan King told each of the two Montgomery County judges responsible for sentencing the pair involved with his daughter’s killing. “It still feels surreal and as though I am listening and watching these events through someone else as I feel numb.”
“I have not had the opportunity to absorb the fact that Natel will not be running in our house and calling out ‘dad,'” Dan King said, often breaking down in tears. He said he and his wife raised their eldest daughter to be independent, self-sufficient and spunky. Since his daughter’s stabbing death last year in Conshohocken while on a photo shoot, Dan King said he and his wife have blamed themselves, wondering “if we had done things differently as parents would we be here today?”Natel King, a psychology student at a Canadian university, had turned to adult photo and film modeling to pay for schooling and an apartment of her own.
While the family could have contributed financially to her education, his independent daughter was adamant that she wanted to do it on her own, said Dan King.
“Now, as the result of actions by others, I have had to pay for Natel’s funeral,” said Dan King. “I wish it was her education that I was paying for.”
Dan King twice read his statement, once at the sentencing of photographer Anthony J. Frederick, 47, of the 1100 block of Bayless Place, Lower Providence.
The other was at the sentencing of 31-year-old Philadelphia resident Jennifer Mitkus, who had a sexual relationship with Frederick at the time of the slaying and was working as his assistant at the photo shoot.
Natel King was last heard from on Feb. 29, 2004, when she visited the apartment studio that Frederick leased in the 100 block of West Third Street.
Her decaying, naked body, wrapped in a blanket, was found on March 23, 2004, by a passer-by who was walking along River Road near Harts Lane in Whitemarsh.
The coroner’s office ruled Natel King’s death a homicide, stating she died from multiple wounds to the neck and upper body.
Montgomery County Judge William T. Nicholas sentenced Frederick, the married father of two adult daughters and a three-year-old son, to 24 to 50 years in prison on third-degree murder and related charges including abuse of a corpse, lying to police and conspiracy.
The judge said he questioned the sincerity of Frederick’s stated remorse, saying he did “not buy” Frederick’s claim that Natel King first attacked him with a knife when he told her he did not have the $900 to pay her at the end of the photo shoot.
“This is a malicious killing, a killing that reflects a cold, calculating individual,” said Nicholas.
While Natel King’s family was in pain wondering as to her whereabouts, Frederick remained silent, knowing that he “had thrown her body over an embankment to rot,” said Nicholas.
Montgomery County District Attorney Brice L. Castor Jr., who personally prosecuted Frederick, called the killing and the cover-up and lies “horrific.”
Asking the judge to sentence Frederick to the maximum, Castor told the judge to imagine the fear and pain that Natel King experienced, knowing that she was going to die as her blood rushed out onto the basement floor.
Castor also cited Frederick’s callous attitude towards Natel King when, describing the incident to a probation officer preparing a pre-sentence report, Frederick said her lifeless body was “like a dead animal in the road. It was a carcass.”
Frederick’s wife and his two grown daughters, ages 23 and 22, all apologized to the King family for Frederick’s crimes but asked the judge to show him mercy.
However, Renee Brothers Nolan, a cousin of Natel King’s mother who said Natel King was like a daughter to her, only had harsh words for Frederick.
“I hope (your children) forget you and become estranged from you and, therefore, you may be able to feel to some degree what it is like to lose a child or a loved one,” Nolan told Frederick from the witness stand. “I feel that you not only took our child from us but your children are also now without a father. You do not deserve to have a relationship with them as I fear that your cold and heartless ways have impacted them.”
Judge William R. Carpenter handled the sentencing of Mitkus, who helped Frederick dispose of the body and repeatedly lied to police during their investigation of Natel King’s death.
Mitkus, who already served six months in prison while awaiting trial, will have to serve an additional six to 23 months in the county prison and a five-year probationary period, according to the sentence handed down by Carpenter.
Conditions of Mitkus’ parole and probation include performing 250 hours of community service, paying a $500 fine plus court costs, obtaining employment or enrolling as a full-time college student upon her release and receiving the intensive mental health treatment recommended by professionals for the only recently diagnosed severe personality disorder from which she suffers.
Adopted two days after her birth, Mitkus was raised in a middle class family in Huntingdon Valley and graduated from Mount St. Joseph’s.
Her estranged father said Mitkus began experiencing unspecified problems in the 11th grade. Eventually, she turned to prostitution to make a living.
County Assistant District Attorney Barbara L. Ashcroft had argued for a state sentence for Mitkus, maintaining Mitkus was a manipulative liar whose tears of remorse were “crocodile tears.”
If Mitkus had such a severe mental disorder, how was she able to earn an “A” in a college computer class in which she enrolled after her release from jail and how could she maintain a relationship with a new boyfriend, asked Ashcroft.
“Judge, she’s a sick, sick lady who is severally mentally ill,” said defense attorney Timothy Woodward in arguing for a sentence in the county prison where she can receive the quality mental health care that she needs.
“She was brought up in a loving, nurturing, God-fearing home and now is pathologically dependent on thugs, pimps and punks for her self-esteem,” said Woodward.
Saying she is haunted by her actions and takes full responsibility for them, Mitkus apologized to the King family, explaining that the tears she shed in the courtroom were not for herself but for the pain she caused them.
It was during Mitkus’ sentencing that Natel King’s 16-year-old sister, Kaylee King, delivered an emotional, stark and sometimes chilling statement concerning the impact that her sister’s death has had on her life.
Her sister’s murder has “raped the love and joy of all my intimate thoughts of yesterday, today, tomorrow and many more days to come, as long as I live,” Kaylee King testified.
“I am nothing more than a milked flower with a withered soul,” said the teen. “That bird that lost its wings, demented and unable to fly. I am a burnt tree that is stripped of its pride and bark. A river that no longer flows.”
At the conclusion of both sentencings, Daniel King said he believes that “justice was served but not for us because it won’t bring Natel back.”
Hopefully, he said, other girls and young women learn from this situation that they should not get involved in the adult picture business or, if they do, they should always have someone accompany them to these shoots.
Margaret Gibbons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-272-2501 ext. 216.