DNA links suspect to final Boston Strangler victim: prosecutor

Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to the last of the 1960s killings attributed to the Boston Strangler, leading many involved in the case to hope that it can finally be put to rest.

BOSTON — Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to the last of the 1960s killings attributed to the Boston Strangler, leading many involved in the case to hope that it can finally be put to rest.

DeSalvo’s remains will be exhumed after authorities concluded that DNA from the scene of Mary Sullivan’s rape and murder produced a “familial match” with him, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said. Conley said he expected investigators to find an exact match when the evidence is compared with his DNA.

Sullivan, 19, was found strangled in her Boston apartment in January 1964. Sullivan had long been considered the strangler’s last victim.

The announcement represented the most definitive evidence yet linking DeSalvo to the case. Eleven Boston-area women between the ages of 19 and 85 were sexually assaulted and killed between 1962 and 1964, crimes that terrorized the region.

DeSalvo, married with children, a working-class Army veteran, confessed to the 11 Boston Strangler murders, as well as two others. But he was never convicted of the Boston Strangler killings.

He had been sentenced to life in prison for a series of armed robberies and sexual assaults and was stabbed to death in prison in 1973 — but not before he recanted his confession.

Sullivan’s nephew Casey Sherman has for years maintained that DeSalvo did not kill his aunt.

and even wrote a book on the case pointing to other possible suspects.

He said he accepted the new findings after concluding that the DNA evidence against DeSalvo appeared to be overwhelming.

“I only go where the evidence leads,” he said. He thanked police and praised them “for their incredible persistence.”

DeSalvo’s family was outraged police secretly followed his nephew to collect DNA for new tests.

Attorney Elaine Sharp said the family also believes there’s still reasonable doubt he killed the Strangler’s last supposed victim.

Officials stressed that the DNA evidence links DeSalvo only to Sullivan’s killing and that no DNA evidence is believed to exist for the other Boston Strangler slayings.

State Attorney General Martha Coakley, however, said investigators hoped that solving Sullivan’s case might put to rest doubts about DeSalvo’s guilt.

Conley said the “familial match” excludes 99.99 per cent of suspects but isn’t enough to close the case.

Attorney F. Lee Bailey, who helped to obtain the confession from DeSalvo, said the announcement will probably help put to rest speculation over the Boston Strangler’s identity.

Bailey had been representing another inmate who informed the attorney that DeSalvo knew details of the crimes. Bailey would later represent DeSalvo.

A woman who answered the phone at the home of DeSalvo’s brother Richard said the family had no comment. She did not identify herself.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Attendees of the Downtown Red Deer Market, which runs every Wednesday during the summer on Little Gaetz Avenue, have complained about the lack of public washrooms. (Photo contributed by Red Deer Downtown Business Association)
Portable washrooms to be set up in downtown Red Deer this summer

More data is needed before the city invests in a permanent structure

A survey of 3,083 Red Deer residents was done by an online platform on behalf of the City of Red Deer, generating about 11,607 comments.. (File photo)
Red Deerians speak out about COVID-19 concerns in survey

More than 3,000 city residents were surveyed

A Calgary energy company's request for a tax break was turned down by Lacombe County. About $31,000 was owed by a company that went bankrupt and Silverleaf Resources Inc. bought some of their assets.
(Advocate file photo)
Lacombe County turns down oil company’s tax break request

Silverleaf Resources Inc. hoped for break on $31,000 in back taxes

RCMP recovered hundreds of stolen items, including Bibles and historical items stolen from the Bowden Pioneer Museum.
(Photo from RCMP)
Museum artifacts among hundreds of stolen items recovered by RCMP in central Alberta

Second World War and other historical and religious items recovered

Red Deer dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped save a missing pet recently. The two dogs have more than 80,000 followers on Twitter. (Contributed photo)
WATCH: Red Deer science dogs help save lost pet

Red Deer science-communicating dogs Bunsen and Beaker helped rescue a missing pet… Continue reading

Edmonton Oilers' Kailer Yamamoto (56) and Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly (44) reach for the rebound from Leafs goalie Michael Hutchinson (30) during second-period NHL action in Edmonton on Monday, March 1, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Michael Hutchinson earns 31-save shutout, Maple Leafs blank Oilers 3-0

Washington Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman watches his solo home run during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Houston Astros Monday, March 1, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

In-game video returning to baseball for 2021

Winnipeg Jets' Nathan Beaulieu (88) clears the puck in front of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) as Vancouver Canucks' Elias Pettersson (40) looks for the rebound during second-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Three first-period goals pace Vancouver Canucks to 4-0 victory over Winnipeg Jets

Rugby training gear is shown during a Torotno Wolfpack during a practice at Lamport Stadium in Toronto. Bradford, Featherstone, Leigh, London,  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Neil Davidson
Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Plans announced to create a grassroots Canadian rugby league co-op

Ottawa Senators left wing Brady Tkachuk (7) and centre Chris Tierney (71) get sandwiched between Flames defencemen Rasmus Andersson (4) and Juuso Valimaki (6) during second-period NHL action in Ottawa on Monday, March 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Batherson scores twice for Ottawa Senators in 5-1 win over Calgary Flames

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Skiers may be safe from COVID-19, but not those working to keep slopes open: experts

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Armas likes what he sees in Toronto FC camp but there are still issues to resolve

Team Canada's Jocelyne Larocque celebrates her goal past the U.S.A. with goaltender Embrace Maschmeyer during first period of Women's Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver on February 5, 2020. The Canadian women's hockey team opened a camp Monday in Halifax, which is co-hosting the upcoming world championship. Hockey Canada invited 35 players to participate in the seven-day camp closed to the public and media at Scotiabank Centre. The women are training under restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a limit of 25 players on the ice at one time. "They will continue to follow strict COVID-19 testing as per team health and safety protocols that have been detailed and approved by Nova Scotia Public Health," Hockey Canada said Monday in a statement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Canadian women’s hockey team preparing for possible May world championship

Most Read