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Cold Case: The Boston Strangler

Cynthia Martin

Albert DeSalvo is being exhumed to confirm his identity as the Boston Strangler

New DNA techniques may finally confirm Albert DeSalvo as the Boston Strangler

The Boston Strangler case is almost officially closed. After over forty years, DNA from the last victim has been familialy matched to a suspect. The suspect, Albert DeSalvo, may finally be brought to justice. But there’s still one problem. DeSalvo is dead.

Since this is College News, I’m going to assume those reading this don’t know who the Boston Strangler is. He was a man who sexually assaulted and killed eleven women, ages 19 to 85, in the Boston area from 1962 to 1964. Usually, he strangled his victims with nylon panty hoes which he left tied in a bow around the victim’s neck.

In 1964, the Strangler was committing his twelfth sexual assault and murder, but left before killing his victim. The victim went on to identify Albert DeSalvo as her assailant. Other women soon came forward saying DeSalvo had sexually assaulted them.

DeSalvo wasn’t suspected of being the Boston Strangler until he was charged with rape and then confessed to being the Strangler to a fellow inmate. He also confessed to other unrelated two murders. During the trial, his confession was thrown out, so DeSalvo was never convicted of the thirteen murders. But he was giving a life sentence for robbery and sexual assault.

In 1973, DeSalvo was killed in prison by an inmate. His killer was never found.

Okay, that’s the short version of the Boston Strangler case. There has been nothing new since 1964 when DeSalvo was arrested. No new murders. No sexual assaults attributed to the Strangler. Nothing. So why is time and resources being wasted on determining for sure if a dead suspect was indeed the Boston Strangler?

It may sound insensitive. I do understand that the families need closure. But DeSalvo is more than likely the Boston Strangler (I would say he is, but obviously that hasn’t been proven). And even if he wasn’t, the real Boston Strangler would have to be in his 70s or 80s by now so I doubt he’ll be assaulting or killing anyone.

Wouldn’t resources be better spent trying to catch serial killers still alive and active today? True, serial killers account for less than one percent of all killings in the U.S. in any given year. And true, there aren’t that many of them (The FBI speculates about 50 are active at any one time). But they’re out there, and they won’t stop until they’re caught or dead.

I’m not saying that it’s bad that the Boston Strangler is going to be officially identified. I’m just questioning if this is really the best use of law enforcement’s time and resources. But I am glad that the families of the victims will be given closure of this horrific case.

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