Albert DeSalvo, The Boston Strangler
Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
DNA tests definitively link Boston Strangler suspect Albert DeSalvo to the death of a 19-year-old woman who is believed to be the serial killer's last victim almost 50 years ago, official said Friday.
Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis announced test results on the remains of DeSalvo, whose body was exhumed last week.
Conley said authorities now have an "unprecedented level of certainty" DeSalvo raped and strangled Mary Sullivan in her Charles Street apartment in Boston on a January afternoon in 1964.
DeSalvo initially admitted killing Sullivan and 10 other women in the Boston area between 1962 and 1964 in a series of slayings, but recanted in 1973 before dying at the age of 42 in prison, where he was serving a life sentence for other crimes.
"I hope this brings some measure of finality to Mary Sullivan's family," 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."
The Boston Strangler's victims ranged in age from 19 to 67 and lived in the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Brighton, Dorchester, Fenway, the South End, Cambridge, Lawrence, Lynn, and Salem areas in an around Boston.
DeSalvo, a blue-collar worker and Army veteran who was married with children, was never convicted of the Strangler slayings.
Authorities obtained a search warrant and dug up DeSalvo's remains after an initial test on seminal fluid found at the Sullivan murder site showed a "familial match" to DNA taken secretly from a DeSalvo relative.
Police had followed DeSalvo's nephew to collect DNA from a discarded water bottle to help make the connection.
That test implicated DeSalvo and excluded 99.9 per cent of suspects, but authorities wanted a 100% perfect in order to close the case and declare DeSalvo the killer.
The breakthrough happened after of scientific advances that authorities said became possible only recently.
Authorities said the investigation was funded in part by a federal grant intended to help local law enforcement solve older crimes using modern scientific techniques.