The Boston Strangler was probably the most notorious criminal that Boston, Massachusetts has ever known. But who was the Boston Strangler? Was he Albert DeSalvo, the person who confessed and went to jail for these crimes? Is he someone that took his secret to the grave and let an innocent man take the blame for his crime? Or is he still walking the streets of Boston, or even the streets of another city? We may never know for sure because based on all the evidence I’ve read, in my opinion Albert DeSalvo was not the famed Boston Strangler. The Boston Strangler wreaked havoc on the city from June 1962 until January 1964. He claimed the lives of thirteen women, ages ranging from 85 years old to 19 years old.
The first victim had been raped and her bathrobe tie wrapped around her neck in a bow in June 1964. The next victim, was 85 year old Mary Mullen, she was not technically killed by the strangler, but rather a fatal heart attack when confronted by him. On June 30th, 1962, Helen Blake met death at the hands of the strangler. Next was 68 year old Nina Nichols. The fifth victim was 75 year old Ida Irga. On August 20th, 1962 Jane Sullivan had been raped and strangled with her nylons. The only black woman to be killed by the hands of the Boston Strangler was Sophie Clark. On December 30th, 1962, 23 year old Patricia Bissette was killed. Then 68 year old Mary Brown met her fate. In August 1963, Beverly Samans met the strangler, she was stabbed instead of strangled and was not raped, but the police still thought it was the strangler’s work. The next victim was Evelyn Corbin . On November 11th 1963, Joann Graff was found raped and strangled in her apartment. But the Boston Strangler was getting sloppy, because he allowed himself to be seen. A man that lived upstairs from Joann reported to police a man had knocked on the door across the hall from his and inquired about Ms. Graff, when he told the man where she lived he quickly left, but not without being seen. The final murder occurred on January 4th 1964. The victim was Mary Sullivan. She was the youngest of the strangler’s victims.
Susan Kelly in The Boston Stranglers: The Public Conviction of Albert DeSalvo and the True Story of Eleven Shocking Murders makes a persuasive argument for DeSalvo being innocent of the strangling murders. She cites a number of reasons why she and others still believed that DeSalvo was innocent. One of the strongest of these reasons is that there was “not one shred of physical evidence that connected him to any of the murders.” Nor could any eyewitness place him at or even near any of the crime scenes. Albert had a relatively memorable face, particularly because of his prominent, beak-like nose. The Strangler (or Stranglers, since some experts believe that it had to be at least two different murderers and possibly more) was seen by a number of eyewitnesses. One was Kenneth Rowe, the engineering student who lived on the floor above Joann Graff’s apartment. He spoke to the stranger who was looking for her apartment just before she was killed. When Rowe was shown a photo of Albert DeSalvo, he did not recognize him as the man looking for Joann. Another point to make is serial killers tend to follow a pattern. The Boston strangler did not. He chose woman of all different ages and backgrounds, which leads me to believe that it was more than one person committing these crimes.
No one can know for sure why DeSalvo would confess to crimes he didn’t commit, but one reason could be money. When Albert was conferring with his lawyer, he asked him if confessing could bring money to his family by ways of books and interviews. His attorney said probably and Albert then quickly confessed. On the night before DeSalvo was killed by another inmate in prison, he called his attorney and told him he had something important to tell him and to come see him the next day. Unfortunately we will never know what Albert had to say, because he was stabbed through the heart and killed, but I think he wanted to tell his lawyer who the Boston Strangler really was.
1. Bailey, F. Lee. The Defense Never Rests New York: Mass Market Paperbacks, 1995. 2. Kelly, Susan. The Boston Stranglers; The Wrongful Conviction of Albert DeSalvo and the True Story of Eleven Shocking Murders. Los Angeles: Carol Publishing Group. 1995 3.Frank,Gerold. The Boston Strangler. Boston: New American Library, Inc.1966 4. Banks, Harold K. The Strangler! The Story of Terror in Boston: A Prize-Winning Newspaperman’s On-The-scene Account; New York: Avon Books, 1967. 5. The Boston Strangler–Tony Curtis, Henry Fonda, George Kennedy. 20th century Fox. 1968 6. Frasier, David K. Murder Cases of the Twentieth Century: Biographies and Bibliographies of 280 Convicted or Accused Killers New York: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers. 1996 7. APB news online.(1998)online. Internet. 12 Nov 1999. available FTP: www.apbonline.com