The last sliver of doubt has been erased: Albert DeSalvo, the confessed Boston Strangler, was definitively implicated for the first time Friday in the string of 1960s murders that transfixed and terrorized the city.
A week after DeSalvo's body was exhumed, DNA evidence confirmed that he killed 19-year-old Mary Sullivan in January 1964, ending a relentless effort by Boston police to exploit advanced DNA technology to link DeSalvo to the Boston Strangler's last murder.
"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," Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley said in a statement.
DeSalvo confessed to killing Sullivan and 10 other single women between 1962 and 1964 in a series of slayings that became known as the Boston Strangler crimes. But he recanted in 1973 before he was stabbed to death in prison by another inmate, and doubts about his involvement have persisted.
The first sign of a resolution appeared last week, when authorities linked DNA taken from the scene of Sullivan's murder to DNA from one of DeSalvo's nephews. Boston police surreptitiously followed the nephew and recovered his DNA from a discarded water bottle.
That evidence allowed Boston police to exhume DeSalvo's body. DNA from DeSalvo's remains matched DNA from seminal fluid recovered at the scene of Sullivan's murder.
Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said he was proud of the diligence of police and analysts who stuck with the case. "The ability to provide closure to a family after 50 years is a remarkable thing," he said.
DeSalvo's family said this new evidence still doesn't prove he was involved in Sullivan's death.
A spokesman from the Suffolk County district attorney's office said the investigation was funded by a federal grant for cold-case investigations in Boston. The grant helped Boston police resolve seven unsolved homicides.