Boston Strangler Case Solved After 50 Years Using DNA Analysis

Mary Sullivan, a 19-year-old who lived in Beacon Hill apartment across Tony Charles street in Boston was found raped and murdered at the apartments around 1967. She was tied into the rails of her bed cot and was raped brutally.

A few days after this incident, Jane Mariam who lived two blocks across Mary, experienced a break-in at her house, followed by an attempt to rape. However, after Jane was tied up in the same way as that of Mary the perpetrator felt a pang of sudden guilt hovering him up. He apologized and left the scene.

This led to the arrest of Albert De Salvo, who was held responsible for more than 11 murder and rape cases that kept happening for weeks in the city of Boston titled as the ‘Boston Strangler Case‘.

In 1962, a widowed woman was found dead at her apartment lying naked. She was brutally raped and her body was stashed into her wardrobe. This marked the starting of an immense amount of murders that continued till 1973 in Boston.

The law enforcement agencies were baffled and so were the public and the media. All the victims were strangled to death post-rape. With no trace of any sort of evidence at the crime scene police had reached a dead end and closed the case until Mary was found dead.

The Only Evidence

When the police reached Sullivan’s house, the crime scene was abundant with evidence. This was indeed suspicious. A killer who was extremely careful to not leave even a slight piece of evidence had left enough of seminal fluid capable of DNA extraction on the maroon blanket that covered the corpus delicti.

However, the DNA technology applied then was not sufficient and broad enough to extract the comparisons from nuclear DNA to match a person. But simultaneously they received a phone call statement from Jane Mariam who encountered the weird experience of the killer sparing her.

Upon further investigation, Jane identified Albert De Salvo as the strangler. Soon the trace diagram of De Salvo was published and few women across the streets of Boston identified him as a rapist and shared their experience of being sexually assaulted and the trauma they went through.

Modus Operandi of Boston Strangler

Boston was a highly-populated area just like how it is now. Due to the presence of a variety of universities and colleges, the area mostly contained young single women who were studying.

Every murder occurred inside the victim’s house. This showed that the culprit befriended her even before he struck because there was no forced entry at any of the crime scenes and the women had let the perpetrator into their house themselves.

After which he would try to threaten the woman and force her to have sex and proceed to tie her up onto the bed, post which she would be strangled using any of her fabric, like nylon stockings of the victim, her underwear, etc.

Early Life of Albert De Salvo

Albert Henry De Salvo was born on 3rd September 1931 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. His father was a violent alcoholic. He was beaten up often by his father for trying to protect his mother from the brutal attacks of her husband.

His father also used to bring home prostitutes and engage in sexual activities with them in front of his family. It was more of revenge than a character inheritance. After being abused by his father he attacked him back once which left him paralyzed.

Further, Albert went on to pursue high school and was arrested multiple times for petty robberies. However, a sexual assault was never reported on him until the strangler case came to light.

Investigation and Conclusion

With the statements from Jane, Albert was arrested in 1967. The matching of evidence could not be proved but a confession recording was given as evidence that was viewed only by the Jury that Albert confessed to having committed the Boston strangling murders while on hypnosis test.

He was given life imprisonment in 1967 and escaped once during his prison life but was later turned in by his lawyer. He was stated mentally unstable and was under depression but other than that there was no sign of Anti-social crisis behavior.

On 25th November 1973, he was found stabbed to death in the prison infirmary. Robert Wilson, who was associated with the Winter Hill Gang was tried for DeSalvo’s murder, but the trial ended in a hung jury. Wilson later claimed that De Salvo was killed for selling amphetamines in the prison for less than the inmate-enforced syndicate price.

Fifty years after the Boston Strangler case was solved and Albert’s death Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley wanted to make sure that the case had not left any loopholes behind. Ms. Sullivan’s nephew also wanted an assurance that it was indeed Albert who killed his aunt.

To exhume Albert’s grave and run a proper DNA match, the police required strong evidence that could convince the Jury to exhume the grave. As the first step to this, they had to make sure that the Y chromosomes of the DNA sample they possessed matched to De Salvo.

An informant followed Albert’s nephew Tim De Salvo while he went to work in Boston and ended up collecting a used water bottle thrown by Tim. The Y chromosome matched Tim’s and it was perfect evidence.

Upon exhumation, the DNA samples from Mary killings matched successfully with Albert De Salvo, and the Boston Strangler case was closed for one final time.

The case was closed as per the law, however, there are still people who believe the Boston Strangler was not Albert. For sure Miss. Sullivan was killed by Albert but what about ten other murders which had no evidence?

Albert’s death also contributed to this controversy turning it into another mysterious case.

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