A Boston Strangler case may be solved after a discarded water bottle allowed investigators to link the 1960s slaying to longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo
Police had long believed DeSalvo had been responsible for the string of murders around Boston, and even had DNA evidence from the rape and murder of Mary Sullivan. What they lacked however was DNA from DeSalvo, that is until one of his relatives threw away a water bottle.
Officers had been assigned to follow members of DeSalvo’s family in an attempt to make a “familial match” with the semen found at Sullivan’s crime scene.
“That water bottle was tested, and the match came back,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.
The Boston Strangler was active for only two years in the Boston area, but managed to sexually assault and kill 11 women between the ages of 19 and 85 during that short time. There were no signs of forced entry at the crime scenes, leading investigators to believe the killer was someone the victims knew or trusted.
Sullivan, killed in 1964, was believed to be the last victim.
Albert DeSalvo, the prime suspect, was an Army veteran who was married with children and a full-time job.
He actually confessed to the Boston Strangler murders and two other killings not initially connected to him, but was never convicted. Instead he was sent to prison for a series of armed robberies and sexual assaults. In 1973 he was stabbed and killed by another inmate at the state’s maximum security prison.
The findings on the Boston Strangler appear to have convinced even longtime skeptics. Sullivan’s nephew, Casey Sherman, had long maintained that DeSalvo didn’t kill his aunt and even wrote a book identifying other potential killers.
But Sherman admitted the DNA test now seems overwhelming.
“I only go where the evidence leads,” he said.
The door is not completely shut on the Boston Strangler killings, however. Investigators stressed that the DNA links Albert DeSalvo only the Sullivan’s murder, and there is no DNA for the other slayings. But investigators noted the familial match gives a 99.99 percent certainty that DeSalvo committed the 1964 murder, which they hope will alleviate doubts.