The Horrific Murders That Police Would Not Have Solved Without a Confession
Albert DeSalvo confessed to being The Boston Strangler. Was he the Strangler or had he admitted the crimes for financial gain?
The Boston Strangler was a serial killer that caused panic amongst single women. Responsible for at least eleven murders of women ranging in age. The murders occurred between 1962 and 64; no one has ever been charged for the murders. However, the police believe after forty-nine years, they have identified the Boston Strangler. His premature death means they are unable to charge him.
Victims of the Boston Strangler
The first victim of the strangler was found on 14th June 1962. She was a fifty-five-year-old woman who was found in her apartment assaulted and strangled. The flat has been ransacked, was it a robbery gone wrong, or was that what the police were meant to think? The strangest part of the murder was that the ligatures on the victim had been tied in a neat bow. The sort of bow a father would do for his children. Every murder would have the same bow tying.
Several other victims were found in Boston; they ranged from sixty-five to eighty-five. The city of Boston went into a panic; authorities diverted all city resources to finding the serial killer. The police thought that the killer had clear victimology; they were wrong.
In December, a young woman was found murdered in similar circumstances. Three weeks later, a twenty-three-year-old woman was found. Subsequent victims then appeared to be from a range of ages. By January 1964, eleven women had died.
The police had no idea who the killer was; they even hired a clairvoyant who described the killer as a person with a mental health condition. Finally, in 1964, the Attorney General, Edward Brooke, was drafted to help solve the case; thousands of pieces of evidence had been connected by none led to a suspect.
With the police having no leads, the murder may never have been solved had Albert DeSalvo not confessed to the crimes in 1965. DeSalvo was an inmate at a mental state hospital who had been arrested and charged with burglary.
DeSalvo was born on 3rd September 1931 in Chelsea, Massachusetts. He was one of five and was in and out of trouble with the police. His father was a violent man who beat his mother on many occasions; the young DeSalvo witnessed his father breaking his mother's fingers on one such incident. As a result, he escaped into the army.
In the army, he learned to fight, winning several boxing championships. He joined the military police and had a promising career until discharged for disobeying orders. He met and married Irmgard Beck, a German lady he met whilst stationed there. It was a good marriage; the young DeSalvo was besotted with his wife. The couple had a baby girl who was physically disabled and a boy. DeSalvo used to tie his daughter into her brace with a beautiful bow. The only problem in the marriage was DeSalvo's sex drive. He would want sex five times a day, which was impossible for a mother of two.
DeSalvo had a history of breaking and entering. After a spell in prison, he broke into a woman's apartment, tied her to the bed whilst holding a knife to her throat; he molested her. He was soon arrested and sent to Bridgewater State Hospital, where he confessed to hundreds of robberies and rapes; he then astounded people by confessing to the Boston Strangler murders. He admitted thirteen victims even though the police had only identified eleven.
Was DeSalvo the Boston Strangler?
Psychiatrists started to examine him. The police were sceptical as DeSalvo, on the initial interview, did not know vital details about the murders. There was also no physical evidence than linked him to the murders. Several surviving victims would state that they did not believe he was the culprit. He was assigned an attorney, none other than F Lee Bailey.
Bailey was convinced of his guilt. Many others disagreed and believed that DeSalvo had confessed purely for the money. He hoped to obtain a book deal to help support his family for years to come. DeSalvo also thought with this information; he could convince the board that he was insane. DeSalvo was charged with sexual assault and given a life sentence but never charged with the murders. Many suggested that the facts he did know had been leaked to him by the police.
In 1973, DeSalvo was stabbed in Walpole prison. It was suggested that the guards may have happened with this assassination. The level of security in prison would make it difficult for a lone culprit to gain access to the cell without help.
Police had obtained a small amount of seminal fluid from a blanket the last victim had been wrapped in, nineteen-year-old Mary Sullivan.
In 2001, DeSalvo's body was exhumed and DNA tested. It did not prove his guilt. Then again, in 2013, forensic experts wanted to reexamine the evidence again. They followed DeSalvo's nephew Tim DeSalvo who dropped a water bottle during observation. The match was enough to issue a warrant to once again exhume DeSalvo and test the DNA. This time the DNA came back as a match. Forty-nine years after the murders, police had finally caught the Boston Strangler.