New evidence revealed in Boston Strangler case

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July 11, 2013, 10:45 pm
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(NECN: Josh Brogadir, Peabody, Mass.) - Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley says Albert DeSalvo's body will be exhumed from a private cemetery Friday, and they'll take a DNA sample to try to make a match.

"DNA evidence was undreamed of in the 1960s," Conley said.

Mary Sullivan was just 19 when she was raped and murdered nearly 50 years ago inside a Beacon Hill apartment on Charles Street.

The man long thought of as the Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo, confessed to her killing and the murders of 10 other women in the Boston area, but was never charged in their deaths.

Now nearly 50 years later, police say they've made a breakthrough in the murder investigation, semen from Mary Sullivan's body and a blanket was re-tested using new technology.

"(They have) the ability to get better and better samples and do very sophisticated matches of mitochondrial DNA that we didn't even have 10 years ago," said Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley.

"That match implicates Albert DeSalvo and excludes 99.9 percent of others," Conley said.

"The only way we could do that was to follow one of the DeSalvo members until one of them discarded a water bottle," said Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis.

But attorney Elaine Sharp, who has long represented the DeSalvo family, says that wasn't the only way.

She says the DeSalvos offered to cooperate.

"A surveillance officer was assigned to follow (nephew Tim DeSalvo) and to surreptitiously get a sample of his DNA. I think it's outrageous," Sharp said.

Attorney F.Lee Bailey helped get DeSalvo's confession years before DeSalvo was killed in prison in 1973 while serving a life sentence for sexual assault.

We spoke with the famed attorney from his home in Maine.

"I think it was a good idea that it was done and probably a good idea that the public learns that their detectives were on the money," Bailey said.

And after 50 years, the nephew of Mary Sullivan broke down when thinking about the dedication to solving this case.

"I've lived with Mary's memory every day, my whole life. And I didn't know, nor did my mother know that other people were living with her memory, as well," said Casey Sherman.

Attorney General Coakley told NECN after the body is exhumed, it should only take one week to make that definitive ID.

As for the other 10 women, there is no DNA, but DA Dan Conley says with technological advances nothing should be ruled out.

Tags: massachusetts, Martha Coakley, Josh Brogadir, Peabody, Ed Davis, Dan Conley, Boston strangler, Mary Sullivan, Albert DeSalvo, Casey Sherman, Albert DeSalvo DNA, Boston Strangler DNA, Mary Sullivan DNA, Elaine Sharp, F Lee Bailey
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