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Albert Henry DeSalvo was born September 3, 1931 – November 25, 1973. DeSalvo confessed to being the "Boston Strangler" and having
murdered 13 women in the Boston area. DeSalvo was never charged for these murders. But was charged and imprisoned for a series of rapes His
murder confession has been disputed, and to this day, debate continues regarding whether DeSalvo actually committed the murders.
DeSalvo was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, his father, Frank and mother, Charlotte DeSalvo. His father was a violent alcoholic who at one point
beat all of his wife's teeth out and bent her fingers back until they broke. He also forced his children to watch him have sex with prostitutes that
he would bring to the house. Albert tortured animals as a child and began shoplifting and stealing at an early age, often being caught by the
In November 1943, the first time DeSalvo was arredsted was at age 12 for battery and robbery. Later, in the same year, same year he was sent
to the Lyman School for Boys. About a year later he was paroled and started working as a delivery boy. Two years later he in August 1946, he
again was sent to the Lyman School for stealing an automobile. After completing his second sentence, DeSalvo joined the Army. He was honorably
discharged after his first tour of duty. He re-enlisted and, in spite of being tried in a court-martial, DeSalvo was again honorably discharged.
Boston Strangler murders
DeSalvo was not initially suspected of being involved with the murders. Only after he was charged with rape did he give a detailed confession of
his activities as the Boston Strangler under hypnosis induced by William Joseph Bryan. His initially confession was to fellow inmate George Nassar.
Though there were some inconsistencies, DeSalvo was able to cite details which had not been made public. However, there was no physical
evidence to substantiate his confession. As such, he stood trial for earlier, unrelated crimes of robbery and sexual offenses. Bailey brought up the
confession to the murders as part of his client's history as part of an insanity defense, but it was ruled as inadmissible by the judge.
Imprisonment and death
attention on the conditions in the hospital and his own situation. The day after the escape, he turned himself in to his lawyer in Lynn,
Massachusetts. Following the escape, he was transferred to the maximum security prison known at the time as Walpole where he was found
murdered six years later in the infirmary. Robert Wilson, who was associated with the Winter Hill Gang was tried for the murder of DeSalvo, but
the trial ended in a hung jury. No one was ever found guilty of the murder.
In 1971, the Texas legislature unanimously passed a resolution honoring DeSalvo in an April Fool's Day joke made by Waco Representative Tom
Moore, Jr.. Moore admitted to the joke–made to prove his colleagues were not putting due diligence into researching legislation they were
passing–and withdrew the resolution.
government, and to work with various producers to create documentaries to explain the facts to the public. Whitfield Sharp pointed out various
inconsistencies between DeSalvo's confessions and the crime scene information (which she obtained). For example, Whitfield Sharp observed,
contrary to DeSalvo's confession to Sullivan's murder, there was no semen in her vagina and she was not strangled manually,but by ligature.
Forensic pathologist Michael Baden observed DeSalvo also got the time of death wrong — a common inconsistency with several of the murders
pointed out by Susan Kelly. Whitfield Sharp continues to work on the case for the DeSalvo family.
In the case of Mary Sullivan, murdered January 4, 1964 at age 19, DNA and other forensic evidence — and leads from Kelly's book — were used by
the victim's nephew Casey Sherman to try to determine her killer's identity. Sherman wrote about this in his book A Rose for Mary (2003) and
stated DeSalvo was not responsible for her death. For example, DeSalvo confessed to sexually penetrating Sullivan, yet the forensic investigation
revealed no evidence of sexual activity. There are also suggestions from DeSalvo himself he was covering up for another man.
The results of a 2001 forensic investigation has cast doubts over whether DeSalvo was the Boston Strangler. The investigation raised the
possibility the real murderer could still be at large. The investigation revealed DNA evidence found on Sullivan does not match DeSalvo. James
Starrs, professor of forensic science at George Washington University, told a news conference DNA evidence could not associate DeSalvo with the
murder. Sullivan's and DeSalvo's bodies were exhumed as part of the efforts by both their families to find out who was responsible for the
murders. Professor Starrs said an examination of a semen-like substance on her body did not match DeSalvo's DNA.
George Nassar, the inmate DeSalvo reportedly confessed to, is among the suspects in the case. He is currently serving a life sentence for the
1967 shooting death of an Andover, Massachusetts gas station attendant. In February 2008, the Massachuetts Supreme Judicial Court denied
Nassar's appeal of his 1967 conviction. Claudia Bolgen, Nassar's attorney, said Nassar, 75 at the time, denied involvement in the murders.[citation
needed] In 2006, Nassar argued in court filings he could not make his case in a previous appeal because he was in federal prison in Leavenworth,
Kansas in the 1980s and therefore did not have access to Massachusetts legal materials. The court noted Nassar was back in
Massachusetts in late 1983 and did not inquire about the case then or for more than two decades. Bolgen said she was
disappointed in the decision, but said Nassar had a pending motion for a new trial in Essex County that she was confident would be granted.
Ames Robey, a former prison psychologist who analyzed both DeSalvo and Nassar, has said Nassar was a misogynistic, psychopathic killer who
was a far more likely suspect than DeSalvo. Some followers of the case said Nassar was the real strangler and fed DeSalvo details of the
murders so DeSalvo could confess and gain notoriety or through Nassar get the reward money to help support DeSalvo's family of wife and two
children. In a 1999 interview with The Boston Globe, Nassar denied involvement in the murders, but said the speculation killed any chance he had
for parole. "I had nothing to do with it," he said. "I'm convicted under the table, behind the scenes."
Nassar had previously been convicted of the May 1948 murder of a shop owner. Nassar was sentenced to life in prison in that case, but through
his friendship with a Unitarian minister he was paroled in early 1961, less than a year before the Boston Strangler murders were believed to have
Between June 14, 1962, and January 4, 1964, 13 single women between the ages of 19 and 85. Most of the women
were sexually assaulted in their apartments, and then strangled with articles of clothing. The eldest victim died of a
heart attack. Two others were stabbed to death, one of whom was also badly beaten. Without any sign of forced
entry into their homes, police assumed the victims either knew their killer or voluntarily allowed him into their homes.
The police were not convinced all of these murders were the work of one single individual, especially because of the
large range in the victims' ages; much of the public believed the crimes were committed by one person, however.
On October 27, 1964, a stranger entered a young woman's home in East Cambridge posing as a detective. He tied
her to the bed, and then sexually assault her, and suddenly left, saying "I'm sorry". The woman's description led
police to identify the assailant as DeSalvo and when his photo was published, many women identified him as the man
who had assaulted them. Earlier on October 27, DeSalvo had posed as a motorist with car trouble and attempted to
enter a home in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The homeowner, future Brockton Police Chief Richard Sproles, became
suspicious and eventually fired a shotgun towards DeSalvo.
The motive for DeSalvo confessing to the crimes remains the same whether he actually committed them or not. He
believed that he would be spending the rest of his life in jail for the Green Man attacks and wanted to use the
confession to raise money to support his wife and children. Plus, being the notorious Boston Strangler would make
him world famous. Dr. Robey testified that "Albert so badly wanted to be the Strangler."
Bailey engaged a plea bargain to lock in his client's guilt in exchange for the lack of a death penalty and a desire for
an eventual insanity verdict. With the jury decision of life in prison, Bailey was very angry: "My goal was to see the
Strangler wind up in a hospital, where doctors could try to find out what made him kill. Society is deprived of a study
that might help deter other mass killers who lived among us, waiting for the trigger to go off inside them."
DeSalvo was sentenced to life in prison in 1967. In February of that year, he escaped with two fellow inmates from
Bridgewater State Hospital, triggering a full scale manhunt. A note was found on his bunk addressed to the
superintendent. In it, DeSalvo stated he had escaped to focus
Lingering doubts remain as to whether DeSalvo was indeed the Boston Strangler. At the time he
confessed, people who knew him personally did not believe him capable of the crimes. It was also
noted the women allegedly killed by "The Strangler" were of widely varying ages, social strata and
ethnicities, and that there were different modi operandi.
Susan Kelly, an author who has had access to the files of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts'
"Strangler Bureau", argues the murders were the work of several killers rather than a single
individual. Another author, former FBI profiler Robert Ressler, said "You're putting together so
many different patterns [regarding the Boston Strangler murders] that it's inconceivable behaviorally
that all these could fit one individual."
In 2000, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, an attorney specializing in forensic cases based in Marblehead,
Massachusetts, represented the DeSalvo family and the family of Mary A. Sullivan. Sullivan was
publicized as being the final victim in 1964, although other murders occurred after that date. Former
print journalist Whitfield Sharp assisted the families in their media campaign to clear DeSalvo's name,
to assist in organizing and arranging the exhumations of Mary A. Sullivan and Albert H. DeSalvo, in
filing various lawsuits in attempts to obtain information and trace evidence (e.g., DNA) from the