Suspected ‘Boston Strangler' Positively ID'd in Mary Sullivan Murder

(NECN) - DNA recovered from the body of Mary Sullivan almost 50 years ago has been matched with her suspected killer, officials announced Friday.

Suffolk County DA Dan Conley, Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley and Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis announced the DNA test results proving the suspected 'Boston Strangler, Albert Henry DeSalvo, was the source of seminal fluid recovered at the scene of Sullivan's 1964 murder.

On January 4, 1964, Sullivan, then 19, was sexually assaulted and strangled to death in her Charles Street apartment. DeSalvo later confessed to that crime and about a dozen other murders but he recanted his admissions and was never convicted of any of them. Friday's announcement marks the first time that law enforcement officials could confirm his role in any homicide.

After authorities obtained a search warrant to exhume DeSalvo's remains, his Peabody grave was excavated on July 12. Suitable DNA samples were taken, leading to today's announcement.

“I hope this brings some measure of finality to Mary Sullivan’s family,” AG Coakley said. “This leaves no doubt that Albert DeSalvo was responsible for the brutal murder of Mary Sullivan, and most likely that he was responsible for the horrific murders of the other women he confessed to killing. I want to thank District Attorney Conley, Commissioner Davis, and their teams for their work and for finally answering the lingering questions that have persisted for so many years.”

“We now have an unprecedented level of certainty that Albert DeSalvo raped and murdered Mary Sullivan,” DA Conley said. “We now have to look very closely at the possibility that he also committed at least some of the other sexual homicides to which he confessed. Questions that Mary’s family asked for almost 50 years have finally been answered. They, and the families of all homicide victims, should know that we will never stop working to find justice, accountability, and closure on their behalf.”

“This is a story about a relentlessness cold case squad that refused to give up, waiting until science met good police work to solve this case,” Commissioner Davis said. “The DNA test results provides a near certainty to what detectives working on the case knew all along, that Albert DeSalvo the suspect who confessed to sexually assaulting and strangling Mary Sullivan was likely her killer. I am proud of the tenacity shown by all of the detectives and analysts working on the case. The ability to provide closure to a family after 50 years is a remarkable thing.”

Officials announced the results after notifying members of Sullivan’s family of the findings by technicians at Orchid Cellmark’s lab in Dallas, Texas.

A total of 11 homicides between 1962 and 1964 have been linked by law enforcement officials investigating the so-called “Boston Strangler.” The victims ranged in age from 19 to 67 and resided in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Brighton, Dorchester, Fenway, the South End, Cambridge, Lawrence, Lynn and Salem. All of the victims were single women, all were sexually assaulted, and all were strangled with some form of ligature that the killer found at the scene. Though modern investigators have long sought biological evidence from the other crime scenes, none has yet been found.

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