The strangler is believed to have killed 11 women in the early 1960s, terrorizing the Boston area for 20 tense months as he hunted women who ranged in age from 19 to 85-years-old. The fear that gripped the city was heightened because most of the victims had been sexually assaulted and killed in their own homes. Some women are said to have moved away from the city out of fear.
On Thursday, the authorities announced that they had recently tested seminal fluid that had been found on the body of Mary Sullivan, who was sexually assaulted and strangled to death in January 1964, and had found a near certain match with Albert DeSalvo, the man who confessed to the Boston Strangler murders but was never convicted of the crimes.
Mr. DeSalvo was stabbed to death at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution — Walpole, in 1973.(The prison is now called the Massachusetts Correctional Institution — Cedar Junction.) He was serving a life sentence for rape and other crimes.
The DNA samples taken from Ms. Sullivan’s body and a blanket in her Charles Street home, which the authorities have saved for nearly five decades, match DNA collected from a water bottle used recently by a nephew of Mr. DeSalvo, the authorities said. A Superior Court judge has granted permission to exhume Mr. DeSalvo’s body to determine a more conclusive link. The exhumation could occur as soon as this week.
“There was no forensic evidence to link Albert DeSalvo to Mary Sullivan’s murder until today,” said Daniel F. Conley, the Suffolk County district attorney, at a news conference Thursday in which the findings were announced.
Even if there is a DNA match however, doubts will remain about whether Mr. DeSalvo was in fact the Boston Strangler — or just one of several people who committed the murders — because of inconsistencies in his confession.
Casey Sherman, Ms. Sullivan’s nephew, said that the new evidence “provides an incredible amount of closure.”