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Update: Mary Sullivan Was Killed by Boston Strangler

Photo of Albert DeSalvo, Getty Images

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley announced today that DNA testing has proven that the final of 13 Boston Strangler victims was killed by confessed killer Albert DeSalvo. The women were strangled in their homes in the 1960’s. Although DeSalvo confessed to the murders, police have always believed that not all the deaths may have been committed by the same man.

At the press conference, Conley said the original DNA testing, done in the 1990’s, was not as thorough as today’s technology, and so was inconclusive. But new testing on samples taken from a blanket that victim Mary Sullivan was laying on, compared to a DNA sample taken from Albert Desalvo’s nephew proved a “familial match,” according to Conley.¬†DeSalvo’s body will be exhumed to confirm the preliminary findings.

Albert DeSalvo was blamed for strangling 13 women in their homes during a 19-month period in the early 1960’s. All of the women were sexually assaulted. There was no sign of forced entry, which lead police to believe the killer was someone they were familiar with, like a maintenance man. DeSalvo confessed to the killings, but the District Attorney at the time wasn’t always convinced that he had committed any or all of the murders.

The last murder victim was 19-year-old Mary Sullivan, who was killed in her Boston apartment on January 14th, 1964. Mary’s nephew Casey, who wrote a book about his aunt’s death, had her body exhumed and tested for the killer’s DNA. But technology wasn’t advanced enough at the time to make a match.

DeSalvo, who was in prison on unrelated charges, was linked to the murders when he confessed to his cellmate that he had killed the women. The cellmate contacted his attorney, who worked out a deal for DeSalvo. If he confessed to the murders, he never had to be prosecuted.

DeSalvo was stabbed to death in Walpole State Prison in November of 1973. He was 42 years old.

Conley emphasized today that this new discovery only links DeSalvo to the murder of Mary Sullivan. It’s not confirmed whether he also killed the other victims of the so-called Boston Strangler. ¬†DeSalvo’s body will be exhumed to confirm the preliminary findings.


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