(BOSTON) — One of the country’s most notorious serial killers, the Boston Strangler, has been conclusively identified by Massachusetts authorities after the suspect’s body was exhumed, police announced on Friday.
Police said on Friday that DNA from Albert DeSalvo, the longtime suspect in the string of rapes and murders committed by the Strangler, matched that of evidence left at the crime scene of the Strangler’s final victim.
“This is a story about a relentless cold case squad that refused to give up, waiting until science met good police work to solve this case,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said in a statement.
“The DNA test results provide 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,” Davis said. “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.”
After murdering 10 other women during the early 1960s, the Strangler raped and murder 19-year-old Mary Sullivan in the middle of the afternoon in her Beacon Hill apartment in 1964, strangling her with her own stocking and leaving bodily fluids on her body and on a blanket he used to cover her dead body.
DeSalvo, a convicted rapist, confessed to Sullivan’s death as well as 11 others while he was behind bars, but later recanted his confession and was never convicted. He died under mysterious circumstances in 1974 before police had the technology to test the DNA samples taken at the scene of the crime.
As technology progressed, police approached DeSalvo’s nephew, Tim DeSalvo, for a DNA sample. When the DNA test from Tim showed a genetic match, police exhumed Albert’s body from a cemetery in Peabody, Mass., and ran further DNA tests. They announced on Friday that the tests proved without a doubt that Albert was the Boston Strangler.
“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,” Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley said.
The string of rapes and murders haunted Boston for decades and stumped five district attorney’s offices that investigated the case.
Police noted that it was largely developments in technology and a new investigation partly funded by a federal grant that allowed local Boston cops to finally solve the Boston Strangler case.
Police said on Friday that they have not been able to extract DNA evidence from the other women who were victims of the Strangler.
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Joseph Wenzel IV & Patricia Del Rio, CNN
Deirdre Walsh and Eugene Scott, CNN
Sara Ashley O'Brien, CNN