DNA evidence has finally and conclusively proved Albert DeSalvo was the killer of Mary Sullivan, believed to be the last victim of the Boston Strangler, according to Attorney General Martha Coakley and Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley.
The announcement from Coakley and Conley came after DeSalvo’s remains were exhumed from the Puritan Lawn cemetery in Peabody, last week. New techniques in DNA testing allowed technicians to match DeSalvo’s DNA to fluid residue preserved from in and around Sullivan’s body. She was murdered in Boston in 1964 at age 19.
The result of the testing “leaves no doubt that Albert DeSalvo was responsible for the brutal murder of Mary Sullivan,” said Coakley. Testing gave odds of 1 in 220 billion that DeSalvo was not the match.
As a result of the match, Coakley said, it is “most likely” that DeSalvo was the strangler responsible for up to 13 murders of women in the Boston area, from 1962 to 1964, including two in Lawrence.
DeSalvo confessed to those killings, but he later recanted and doubts persisted after inconsistencies were found in his version of events. He was convicted, however, in separate sexual assault cases and was later stabbed to death in prison.
But Marblehead lawyer Elaine Sharp, who represents the DeSalvo family, is saying not so fast.
In a statement released by her office, Sharp said, “At this time, the family of Albert DeSalvo, more specifically, Richard DeSalvo, Albert’s brother, and Albert’s nephew, decline to comment on these allegedly ‘definitive results’ because .... they have not been proved to be relevant to the question of whether Albert raped and strangled Mary.”
Sharp did not explain further. Previously, she has argued that inconclusive DNA testing in 2001 — before the current techniques were available — cast doubt on whether DeSalvo was the killer.
“We ask the media and the public not to take at face value what the government agents have announced today,” she added. “There is more to come on this matter.”