DeSalvo’s Body Reburied Minus DNA Samples
The remains of the man believed to be the Boston Strangler were reburied Monday after an exhumation for testing that could clear his name and solve the mystery surrounding his death.
Albert DeSalvo confessed to killing 11 Boston women between 1962 and 1964, but recanted before being stabbed to death in prison while serving a sentence for rape. He never was charged in any of the strangler killings.
During a weekend autopsy at York College in Pennsylvania, a team of forensic scientists collected samples for DNA testing and examined the 16 stab wounds DeSalvo suffered when he was killed in prison in 1973.
A few investigators and the DeSalvo family, which requested the tests, are convinced that DeSalvo was not the Boston Strangler.
The project’s leader--George Washington University professor James Starrs, a forensics specialist--said Sunday he already wants to expand the size of his team as a result of unexpected findings.
Starrs would not discuss what the team found, but promised a “blockbuster” report when the research is complete, which could take as long as a year.
The family of Mary Sullivan, the strangler’s last victim, has joined DeSalvo’s family in seeking a new look at the case. Sullivan’s body was exhumed last year and the results appeared to contradict DeSalvo’s account of the slaying.
The DeSalvo and Sullivan families believe DeSalvo confessed because he hoped to make money from book and movie deals about the highly publicized case.
After a private ceremony Monday for the reburial, DeSalvo’s family members said they hope the new tests, together with evidence from the Sullivan autopsy, will clear his name.
“So many different detectives have said he didn’t do it,” said DeSalvo’s son, Michael, 41.
The family also hopes to clear up the circumstances of DeSalvo’s death. Three inmates were tried for the killing, but a jury failed to reach a decision in one trial and a mistrial was declared in another. Prosecutors had said they believed the men were trying to keep DeSalvo from entering the prison drug trade.
Last year, Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Thomas Reilly began reinvestigating Sullivan’s murder at the request of the two families. Ann Donlan, a spokeswoman for Reilly, said the investigation is stalled because DeSalvo’s brother Richard refused to provide a DNA sample to compare with evidence found at the scene of Sullivan’s murder.
Richard DeSalvo’s lawyers say he has offered several times to give DNA to Reilly’s office if the attorney general would agree to share other evidence with the lawyers, including material found at the murder scene.