Almost 50 years after 11 women were killed in the unsolved "Boston Strangler" murders, police said on Thursday they have biological evidence linking a man, who confessed to the killings but was never convicted, to the final homicide.
“We may have just solved one of the nations’ most notorious serial killings,” state Attorney General Martha Coakley said at a press conference today in Boston. The murders “terrorized Boston and gripped the whole area in fear.”
DNA evidence retrieved at the site of the final killing, that of 19-year-old Mary Sullivan, who was raped and murdered in January 1964, was a close match to that of Albert DeSalvo, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said at a press conference at Boston Police headquarters.
DeSalvo was convicted on unrelated charges and was stabbed to death in prison in 1973.
"There was no forensic evidence to link DeSalvo to Mary Sullivan's murder until today," Conley said.
DeSalvo's remains will be exhumed for DNA testing, authorities said.
Boston authorities waited for years for DNA sampling technology to advance sufficiently before sending two samples from the Sullivan murder scene to two separate testing companies.
When a sample was identified, Boston police needed to compare it to a sample from one of DeSalvo’s male family members. Police sent a surveillance expert to follow one of
DeSalvo’s nephews until he discarded a water bottle, which was collected and tested, police said. A match was made, according to police.
The water bottle match allowed authorities to obtain a search warrant for the exhumation.
But even with that break, Conley warned that the case may remain largely unsolved, since DNA linked DeSalvo only to Sullivan and not to the other 10 victims. DeSalvo's confession after the murders met with skepticism, and some criminal experts believe more than one person committed the 11 Boston Strangler murders, Conley said.
"We don't claim with certainty that Albert DeSalvo is a suspect in each of them," Conley said.
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