Friday, September 30, 2005

The Boston Strangler

The Boston Strangler is the pseudonym given to a serial killer active in Boston Massachusetts in the early 1960s that had the city terrified. The Boston Strangler has become known to everyone all across the country and was even made into a big time movie in 1968 starring Tony Curtis. Here is some more info…

Between June 14, 1962, and January 4, 1964, thirteen women between the ages of 19 and 85 in the Boston area were murdered. All of the 13 ladies were unmarried and were all murdered in their apartments, strangled (thus the nom de plume) pieces of clothing and were also sexually assaulted. In no case was there any sign of forced entry, the women evidently knew their attacker or voluntarily let him into their homes for some unknown reason.

Although police were not convinced that all of these murders were the work of a single individual, the public assumed so.

Despite official efforts to solve the cases, it was the alleged Strangler himself who caused his own capture. On October 27, 1964, a stranger entered a young woman's home posing as a detective. He tied his victim to her bed, sexually assaulted her, and suddenly departed, saying "I'm sorry" as he left. The woman's description led police to identify the assailant as Albert Henry De Salvo. When Boston papers published De Salvo’s photo, many women identified him as the man who had assaulted them.

Earlier that night, he 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 at De Salvo. At this point, De Salvo was not suspected of being involved with the stranglings. It was only after he was charged with rape that he confessed to being the Boston Strangler. However, there was no evidence to substantiate his confession. As such, he stood trial for earlier, unrelated crimes of robbery and sexual offences. De Salvo was sentenced to life in prison in 1967.
Lingering doubts remain as to whether De Salvo was indeed the Boston Str
angler. Even though nobody has ever officially been on trial as the Boston Strangler, the public believed that Albert DeSalvo, who confessed in detail to each of the eleven "official" Strangler murders, as well as two other murders, was the Strangler. However, at the time that DeSalvo confessed, most people who knew him personally did not believe him capable of the vicious crimes. A forensic investigation has cast doubts over whether Albert De Salvo actually was the infamous serial killer, and raised the possibility that the real murderer could still at large. DNA evidence found on one of the 11 women killed by the Boston Strangler does not match that of Albert DeSalvo, who had confessed to murdering the women.

James Starrs, professor of forensic science at George Washington University, told a news conference that DNA evidence could not associate DeSalvo with Mary Sullivan, murdered January 4, 1964, at age 19, who is believed to be the Boston Strangler's final victim. Further, DNA and other forensic evidence gathered nearly forty years later by her nephew Casey Sherman and published in his book A Rose for Mary (2003) suggested that De Salvo was not responsible for her death. There are also suggestions from De Salvo himself that he was covering up for another man, the real killer. Some suggest this is why he was murdered, in his cell, six years after his conviction.

Why do serial killers kill? Who knows, I know that I have no idea other than that they are sick. I can not help but wonder why, if De Salvo was not really the Boston Strangler, why would he or anyone admit to being the villian? Did he think it could land him a movie or book deal? Did he think it could make him rich and famous? Who knows? One interesting fact I came across in looking into the Boston Strangler occurred in 1971, when Albert Henry De Salvo was commended by the Texas House of Representatives as being "officially recognized by the state of Massachusetts for his noted activities and unconventional techniques involving population control and applied psychology." It seems that Texan legislator Tom Moore had introduced the measure to demonstrate to the House and public the unbelievable lack of legislative scrutiny that was then the norm in Texas politics.

Check back again tomorrow for our next entry and keep an open mind and remember to keep walking in this big Weird World of ours.

I’m Average Joe


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