BOSTON (AP) — The man who once claimed to be the Boston Strangler has been linked to one of the 11 victims by DNA evidence for the first time, leading authorities to plan to exhume his remains for further testing and perhaps putting to rest speculation that Albert De Salvo may not have been the notorious killer after all.
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 Thursday. 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, who had moved from her Cape Cod home to Boston just days before her death, 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 and grabbed national headlines.
DeSalvo, a blue-collar worker and Army veteran who was married with children, 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 the state's maximum security prison in Walpole in 1973 — but not before he recanted his confession.
An attorney for DeSalvo's family said Thursday they believe there's still reasonable doubt he killed the Strangler's last supposed victim, even if additional DNA tests show a 100 percent match.
DeSalvo family lawyer Elaine Sharp said previous private forensic testing of Sullivan's remains showed other male DNA was present that didn't match DeSalvo.