The Boston Belfry Murderer kills his first victim

The Boston Belfry Murderer kills his first victim


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Bridget Landregan is found beaten and strangled to death in the Boston suburb of Dorchester. According to witnesses, a man in black clothes and a flowing cape attempted to sexually assault the dead girl before running away. In 1874, a man fitting the same description clubbed another young girl, Mary Sullivan, to death. His third victim, Mary Tynan, was bludgeoned in her bed in 1875. Although she survived for a year after the severe attack, she was never able to identify her attacker.

Residents of Boston were shocked to learn that the killer had been among them all along. Thomas Piper, the sexton at the Warren Avenue Baptist Church, was known for his flowing black cape, but because he was friendly with the parishioners, nobody suspected his involvement. But when five-year-old Mabel Young, who was last seen with the sexton, was found dead in the church’s belfry in the summer of 1876, Piper became the prime suspect. Young’s skull had been crushed with a wooden club.

Piper, who was dubbed “The Boston Belfry Murderer,” confessed to the four killings after his arrest. He was convicted and sentenced to die, and he was hanged in 1876.


Ο Bridget Landregan βρέθηκε κτυπημένος και στραγγαλισμένος στο θάνατο στο προάστιο της Ντόρτσεστερ της Βοστώνης. Σύμφωνα με μάρτυρες, ένας άνδρας με μαύρα ρούχα και ένα ρέμα ακρωτηρίου προσπάθησε να επιτεθεί σεξουαλικά στο νεκρό κορίτσι πριν φύγει. Το 1874, ένας άνδρας με την ίδια περιγραφή έκοψε σε θάνατο μια άλλη νεαρή κοπέλα, Mary Sullivan. Το τρίτο του θύμα, η Mary Tynan, χτυπήθηκε στο κρεβάτι του το 1875. Αν και επέζησε για ένα χρόνο μετά τη σοβαρή επίθεση, δεν κατάφερε ποτέ να εντοπίσει τον επιτιθέμενο.

Οι κάτοικοι της Βοστώνης συγκλονίστηκαν να μάθουν ότι ο δολοφόνος ήταν μεταξύ τους καθ 'όλη τη διάρκεια. Ο Thomas Piper, ο σέξτον στην Εκκλησία Βαπτιστών της Avenue Warren, ήταν γνωστός για το ρευστή μαύρο ακρωτήρι του, αλλά επειδή ήταν φιλικός με τους ενορίτες, κανείς δεν υποψιαζόταν τη συμμετοχή του. Αλλά όταν ο πενταετής Mabel Young, που είχε δει τελευταία με το σέξτον, βρέθηκε νεκρός στο καμπαναριό της εκκλησίας το καλοκαίρι του 1876, ο Piper έγινε ο βασικός ύποπτος. Το κρανίο του Young είχε συνθλιβεί με ξύλινο κλαμπ.

Ο Piper, ο οποίος ονομάστηκε "Ο δολοφόνος του Boston Belfry," ομολόγησε τις τέσσερις δολοφονίες μετά τη σύλληψή του. Καταδικάστηκε και καταδικάστηκε να πεθάνει, και κρεμάστηκε το 1876.


This Day in History: Dec 5, 1873: The Boston Belfry Murderer kills his first victim

Bridget Landregan is found beaten and strangled to death in the Boston suburb of Dorchester. According to witnesses, a man in black clothes and a flowing cape attempted to sexually assault the dead girl before running away. In 1874, a man fitting the same description clubbed another young girl, Mary Sullivan, to death. His third victim, Mary Tynan, was bludgeoned in her bed in 1875. Although she survived for a year after the severe attack, she was never able to identify her attacker.

Residents of Boston were shocked to learn that the killer had been among them all along. Thomas Piper, the sexton at the Warren Avenue Baptist Church, was known for his flowing black cape, but because he was friendly with the parishioners, nobody suspected his involvement. But when five-year-old Mabel Young, who was last seen with the sexton, was found dead in the church's belfry in the summer of 1876, Piper became the prime suspect. Young's skull had been crushed with a wooden club.

Piper, who was dubbed "The Boston Belfry Murderer," confessed to the four killings after his arrest. He was convicted and sentenced to die, and he was hanged in 1876.


Bridget Landregan findes slået og kvalt ihjel i Boston forstad til Dorchester. Ifølge vidner forsøgte en mand i sort tøj og en flydende kappe seksuelt at angribe den døde pige, før han løb væk. I 1874 dræbte en mand, der passer til den samme beskrivelse, en anden ung pige, Mary Sullivan, ihjel. Hans tredje offer, Mary Tynan, blev blæst i hendes seng i 1875. Selvom hun overlevede i et år efter det alvorlige angreb, var hun aldrig i stand til at identificere sin angriber.

Beboere i Boston var chokeret over at få at vide, at morderen havde været blandt dem hele tiden. Thomas Piper, sextonen i Warren Avenue baptistkirke, var kendt for sin flydende sorte kappe, men fordi han var venlig med sognene, mistænkte ingen hans engagement. Men da den fem år gamle Mabel Young, der sidst blev set med sextonet, blev fundet død i kirkens klokketårn sommeren 1876, blev Piper den største mistænkte. Youngs kranium var blevet knust med en træklub.

Piper, der blev døbt “Boston Belfry Murderer”, tilståede de fire drab efter hans arrestation. Han blev dømt og dømt til at dø, og han blev hængt i 1876.


The Boston Belfry Murderer kills his first victim

Bridget Landregan is found beaten and strangled to death in the Boston suburb of Dorchester. According to witnesses, a man in black clothes and a flowing cape attempted to sexually assault the dead girl before running away. In 1874, a man fitting the same description clubbed another young girl, Mary Sullivan, to death. His third victim, Mary Tynan, was bludgeoned in her bed in 1875. Although she survived for a year after the severe attack, she was never able to identify her attacker.
Residents of Boston were shocked to learn that the killer had been among them all along. Thomas Piper, the sexton at the Warren Avenue Baptist Church, was known for his flowing black cape, but because he was friendly with the parishioners, nobody suspected his involvement. But when five-year-old Mabel Young, who was last seen with the sexton, was found dead in the church's belfry in the summer of 1876, Piper became the prime suspect. Young's skull had been crushed with a wooden club.
Piper, who was dubbed "The Boston Belfry Murderer," confessed to the four killings after his arrest. He was convicted and sentenced to die, and he was hanged in 1876.
On this day, Dec. 5, 1873
Examiner Staff Writer 12/4/08
“The Boston Belfry Murderer” killed his first victim.
Thomas Piper bludgeoned and strangled Bridget Landregan in the snow, and attempted to defile the dead girl before he was scared off by a passing couple who told police that the killer looked like a “dark, bat-like figure,” with a flowing black opera cloak. In 1874, another young girl was clubbed to death by a man with a cape. A third victim was bludgeoned in her bed in 1875.
The slayings caused a panic. The Boston police chief ordered that all men in opera cloaks were to be stopped and questioned, causing the garment to go out of fashion.
Piper, the sexton at the Warren Avenue Baptist Church, was known for his flowing cape, but nobody suspected him. But in 1876, when 5-year-old Mabel Young, who had last been seen with Piper, was found dead with a crushed skull in the church’s belfry, the 26-year-old was arrested.
He confessed to the four killings and was hanged later that year.


Early life Edit

Originally from Nova Scotia, Piper was the second-born son of farmer T. C. Piper. Thomas worked as a carpenter on a farm his family owned, before moving with them to Boston in 1866, occasionally working for his father, but aspiring to do better things. Regarded as literate and clever, he had worked at several clerking jobs around the city and was an avid Baptist church-goer, which resulted in him being hired as a sexton for the Warren Avenue Baptist Church. Piper also had some sort of kidney disorder, which he "treated" with a secret addiction - using laudanum mixed with alcohol, which caused hallucinations. [1] Unbeknownst to many, he started committing acts of arson before moving on to his first murder. [2]

Murder of Bridget Landregan Edit

On the night of December 5, 1873, while walking with two of his brothers to the church in Dorchester, Piper suddenly told them that he wasn't feeling well and wanted to go back home. He first went to a place which sold opium and mixed it with alcohol, drinking it all before returning to his house. He then took a saw and sawed off a piece of shaft, before exiting the house, walking around some and hiding under a fence. Soon after, a fire alarm was rung, and when the commotion quieted down, Piper was standing on the street with his brother when he noticed a young woman walking down the street - Bridget Landregan, a domestic servant of good repute returning to her mistress' home. [3]

The brothers went inside the house, with Thomas claiming he was going to go to bed, but instead went down to the kitchen, grabbed the shaft and began walking after Landregan. He stalked her for some time until they reached Columbia Street, at which point Bridget noticed him. At that moment, Piper struck her with the shaft, causing Landregan to fall down before hitting her again, breaking her skull. [1]

Before he could do anything with the body, he noticed that a man was coming down the street, so he got up and began running. He climbed over a fence going along the railroad, taking a round-about way to his home, disposing of a knife that he thought could be recognised as his along the way. [4]

Several arrests were made concerning the case, including Piper, but he was initially discharged due to lack of evidence. A former lover of Landregan, an Irishman named Thomas Cahill, was extradited from his home country after detectives wanted to question him. However, no evidence could link the murder to him, and Cahill soon returned to Ireland, where he himself was murdered. [3]

Assault on Mary Tyner Edit

In 1874, while visiting the downtown area of Boston, Piper met Tyner, a prostitute, [1] on Lagrange Street. Both engaged in conversation, with Thomas inviting her to a saloon, to which Mary agreed. After they had some drinks together, Piper and Tyner went to her house, where they soon fell asleep. In the middle of the night, Thomas suddenly woke up and, noticing that his companion was asleep, he grabbed a hammer-like object and struck Tyner several times on the head with it. [1]

He then promptly left the house by exiting through a window, opting to sleep in the church for the rest of the night. [4] Although Tyner survived the attack, she was unable to identify her attacker, and was sent to live out her days as an inmate of a lunatic asylum. A former lover of hers named Colby was arrested, but later released due to lack of evidence. [3]

Murder of Mabel H. Young Edit

On May 23, 1875, a 5-year-old girl named Mabel Hood Young was attending a service in the Warren Avenue Baptist church, where Piper worked as a sexton. Thomas had taken a bat from the lower room, with the intention to kill somebody with it, up to the belfry. After the service ended, he sent away the boys playing in the vestibule, and lured the young Mabel to the tower with the promise of showing her the pigeons. When they went in there, Piper struck the young girl on the head with the bat a few times, causing her to fall down. Thomas intended to rape her, thinking that Young was dead, but when he realised she wasn't, he moved the badly-injured girl to another place, where she was soon found. Piper was arrested, but Mabel died from her injuries the following day. [1] [2] [4]

Piper's first trial, prosecuted by Suffolk County District Attorney Oliver Stevens, ended in a hung jury, as he constantly protested his innocence, [5] adding to the fact that there was no real reason or evidence to convict him in the case, resulting in nine voting for a conviction but three for an acquittal. In the second trial, headed by Attorney-General Charles R. Train, [6] they managed to convict him with circumstantial evidence. Piper first appeared stoically indifferent in court, but began to look increasingly concerned on his way back to the cell. [5] [7]

He hastily began writing a letter addressed to his mother in which he wrote that he hoped he would be acquitted, but knew it wouldn't happen. Although this attempt at earning sympathy from the public was unsuccessful, prior to his conviction, his invented story of how Mabel was murdered was considered credible before he admitted it was false: initially, Piper claimed that he had wanted to show Mabel the pigeons, but the air was stuffy, and he decided to open up the window to let some fresh air in. He held it down with the bat and left for a moment, but when he returned, he noticed that the trapdoor had fallen on Young's head. Afraid of being accused of assault, Piper fled downstairs to tell a few of the women about the accident, but remained silent out of fear. [8]

The motive for the crime was suggested as being pure lust for bloodshed and, under pressure from the whole ordeal, Piper confessed to Young's murder. To the shock of the Boston population, he confessed to other crimes as well, including the murder of Landregan, [9] the arsons, the assault on Tyner [3] and that he also murdered a girl named Minnie Sullivan. [2] Although there wasn't enough evidence to convict him in the other cases, Piper was sentenced to death for the murder of Mabel Young. [5]

He tried to appeal his sentence unsuccessfully. Piper's execution was attended by at least 300 people and he was executed by hanging on May 26, 1876, along with the "Petersham Murderer", Samuel J. Frost. His body was then privately buried at the Mount Hope Cemetery. [10]

Following his execution, Piper's family asked that Thomas's written and detailed confession of the crimes, which was given to Sheriff John M. Clark, not be released to the public. Clark agreed with the plea, as the majority of Piper's crimes were already known to the public and nobody wanted to further horrors to the terrible deeds of the murderer. [11]


A compendium of information, resources and discussion on notable nineteenth century American murders.

deMille, James. Cord and Creese: A Novel (Classic Reprint) Harper & Bros.: New York, 1869.

Dempewolff, Robert F. Famous Old New England Murders: And Some That Are Infamous. Brattleboro: Stephen Daye Press, 1942

Piper, Thomas W., and J. M. W. Yerrinton. The Official Report of the Trial of Thomas W. Piper for the Murder of Mabel H. Young, in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, from Notes of Mr.J.M.W. Yerrinton . Boston: Wright & Potter, 1887.

Rogers, Alan. Murder and the Death Penalty in Massachusetts. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2008.

Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell. Boston's South End (MA) (Then & Now) . Dover, N.H.: Arcadia, 1998.

Wilson, Colin, and Damon Wilson. A Plague of Murder : the rise and rise of serial killing in the modern age. London: Robinson, 1995.

Newspapers:
"Piper's Punishment." National Aegis [Worcester] 27 May 1876.

"Piper's Threefold Confession." Boston Journal 8 May 1876.

"The Belfry Murder." Boston Daily Advertiser 25 May 1875.

"The Murder of Mabel H. Young." Boston Daily Advertiser 11 Dec. 1875.


1873 The Boston Belfry Murderer kills his first victim

Bridget Landregan is found beaten and strangled to death in the Boston suburb of Dorchester. According to witnesses, a man in black clothes and a flowing cape attempted to sexually assault the dead girl before running away. In 1874, a man fitting the same description clubbed another young girl, Mary Sullivan, to death. His third victim, Mary Tynan, was bludgeoned in her bed in 1875. Although she survived for a year after the severe attack, she was never able to identify her attacker.

Residents of Boston were shocked to learn that the killer had been among them all along. Thomas Piper, the sexton at the Warren Avenue Baptist Church, was known for his flowing black cape, but because he was friendly with the parishioners, nobody suspected his involvement. But when five-year-old Mabel Young, who was last seen with the sexton, was found dead in the church’s belfry in the summer of 1876, Piper became the prime suspect. Young’s skull had been crushed with a wooden club.

Piper, who was dubbed “The Boston Belfry Murderer,” confessed to the four killings after his arrest. He was convicted and sentenced to die, and he was hanged in 1876.


Boston Belfry Murderer Claimed First Victim - December 5, 1873

This week (December 5 – 11) in crime history – Boston belfry murderer claimed first victim (December 5, 1873) The bank robbing Reno brothers were hanged (December 6, 1868) Colin Ferguson shot and killed six and wounded 19 on Long Island commuter train (December 7, 1993) John Lennon was murdered (December 8, 1980) Frank Sinatra Jr., was kidnapped (December 8, 1963) Civil rights activist Mumia Abu-Jamal murdered a Philadelphia police officer (December 9, 1981) Bernie Madoff was arrested and charged with masterminding Ponzi scheme (December 11, 2008)

Highlighted crime story of the week -

On December 5, 1873, Bridget Landregan was found beaten and strangled to death in the Boston suburb of Dorchester. According to witnesses, a man dressed in black with a flowing cape was seen running away from the scene. In 1874, a man fitting the same description attacked and clubbed to death another young girl, Mary Sullivan. The killer’s third victim, Mary Tynan, was bludgeoned in her own bed in 1875. Although she survived the attack for nearly a year, she was never able to identify her attacker.

Residents of Boston were stunned to learn that the serial murderer had been among them all along. Thomas Piper, the sexton at the Warren Avenue Baptist Church, was friendly with parishioners and nobody suspected his involvement. But when five-year-old Mabel Young, who was last seen with the sexton, was found dead in the church’s belfry in the summer of 1876, Piper became the prime suspect. Young’s skull had been crushed with a wooden club. Piper, who was dubbed “The Boston Belfry Murderer,” confessed to the four killings after his arrest. He was convicted and sentenced to die, and he was hanged in 1876.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”


Boston Belfry Murderer Claimed First Victim - December 5, 1873

This week (December 1-7) in crime history – Russian revolutionary Sergey Kirov was murdered (December 1, 1934) Defense presents case in the Hamptons Murder trial (December 1, 2004) Rape trial of William Kennedy Smith began (December 2, 1991) John Brown was hanged for treason (December 2, 1859) Five-year-old Melissa Brannen disappeared from Christmas party (December 3, 1989) Amanda Knox was found guilty of murder (December 4, 2009) Black Panther members Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed in a shootout with police (December 4, 1969) Boston Belfry Murderer claimed first victim (December 5, 1873) Colin Ferguson kills six on Long Island Commuter train (December 7, 1993).

Highlighted Story of the Week -

On December 5, 1873, Bridget Landregan was found strangled to death in the Boston suburb of Dorchester. According to witnesses, a man in black clothes and a flowing cape attempted to sexually assault the dead girl before running away. In 1874, a man fitting the same description clubbed another young girl, Mary Sullivan, to death. His third victim, Mary Tynan, was bludgeoned in her bed in 1875. Although she survived for a year after the severe attack, she was never able to identify her attacker.

Residents of Boston were shocked to learn that the killer had been among them all along. Thomas Piper, the sexton at the Warren Avenue Baptist Church, was known for his flowing black cape, but because he was friendly with the parishioners, nobody suspected his involvement. But when five-year-old Mabel Young, who was last seen with the sexton, was found dead in the church's belfry in the summer of 1876, Piper became the prime suspect. Young's skull had been crushed with a wooden club. Piper, who was dubbed "The Boston Belfry Murderer," confessed to the four killings after his arrest. He was convicted and sentenced to die, and he was hanged on May 26, 1876.

Check back every Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”


Contents

Initially, the crimes were assumed to be the work of one unknown person dubbed "The Mad Strangler of Boston." [2] Then, on July 8th in an edition of the Sunday Herald, it had a headline as follows "A mad strangler is loose in Boston," in an article titled "Mad Strangler Kills Four Women in Boston." [3] The killer was also known as the "Phantom Fiend" [4] or "Phantom Strangler" [5] due to his ability to get women to allow him into their apartments. In 1963, two investigative reporters for the Record American, Jean Cole and Loretta McLaughlin, wrote a four-part series about the killer, dubbing him "The Boston Strangler." [6] [7] By the time that DeSalvo's confession was aired in open court, the name "Boston Strangler" had become part of crime lore.

Between June 14, 1962, and January 4, 1964, 13 single women between the ages of 19 and 85 were murdered in the Boston area. Most were sexually assaulted and strangled in their apartments police believe that one man was the perpetrator. With no sign of forced entry into their homes, the women were assumed to have let their assailant in, either because they knew him or because they believed him to be an apartment maintenance man, delivery man, or other service man. The attacks continued despite extensive media publicity after the first few murders, which presumably should have discouraged women from admitting strangers into their homes. Many residents purchased tear gas and new locks and deadbolts for their doors. [2] Some women moved out of the area. [8] [2]

The murders occurred in several cities, including Boston, complicating jurisdictional oversight for prosecution of the crimes. Massachusetts Attorney General Edward W. Brooke helped to coordinate the various police forces. [2] [9] He permitted parapsychologist Peter Hurkos to use his alleged extrasensory perception to analyze the cases, for which Hurkos claimed that a single person was responsible. This decision was controversial. [2] Hurkos provided a "minutely detailed description of the wrong person," and the press ridiculed Brooke. [9] The police were not convinced that all the murders were the actions of one person, although much of the public believed so. The apparent connections between a majority of the victims and hospitals were widely discussed . [2]

  • Anna Elsa (Legins) Šlesers, 56, sexually assaulted with unknown object and strangled with the belt on her bathrobe found on June 14, 1962 in her third-floor apartment at 77 Gainsborough Street, Fenway, Boston [10]
  • Mary Mullen, 85, died from a heart attack found on June 28, 1962, in her apartment at 1435 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. In his confession, DeSalvo said she collapsed as he grabbed her. [10]
  • Nina Frances Nichols, 68, sexually assaulted and strangled with her nylon stockings found on June 30, 1962, in her home at 1940 Commonwealth Ave., Boston [10]
  • Helen Elizabeth Blake, 65, sexually assaulted and strangled with her nylon stockings found on June 30, 1962, in her home at 73 Newhall St., Lynn, Massachusetts[10]
  • Ida Odes Irga, 75, sexually assaulted and strangled found on August 19, 1962, in her apartment at 7 Grove Street, Beacon Hill, Boston[10]
  • Jane Buckley Sullivan, 67, sexually assaulted and strangled with her nylon stockings found on August 21, 1962, in her home at 435 Columbia Road, Dorchester, Boston[10]
  • Sophie Clark, 20, sexually assaulted and strangled with her nylon stockings found on December 5, 1962, in her apartment at 315 Huntington Ave., Fenway, Boston [10]
  • Patricia Jane Bullock Bissette, 23, strangled with her nylon stockings found on December 31, 1962, in her home at 515 Park Drive, Fenway, Boston [10]
  • Mary Ann Brown, 69, raped, strangled, beaten, and stabbed found on March 6, 1963, in her apartment at 319 Park St., Lawrence, Massachusetts[10]
  • Beverly Samans, 25, stabbed to death found on May 6, 1963, in her home at 4 University Road in Cambridge, Massachusetts[10]
  • Marie Evelina (Evelyn) Corbin, 58, raped and strangled with her nylon stockings found on September 8, 1963, in her home at 224 Lafayette St., Salem, Massachusetts[10]
  • Joann Marie Graff, 22, strangled with her nylon stockings found on November 23, 1963, in her apartment at 54 Essex St., Lawrence, Massachusetts [10]
  • Mary Anne Sullivan, 19, sexually assaulted and strangled with nylon stockings found on January 4, 1964, in her apartment at 44-A Charles St., Boston[10]

The murders of Margaret Davis, 60, of Roxbury and Cheryl Laird, 14, of Lawrence were originally attributed to the Boston Strangler, but were later found to be unrelated cases. [11] [12]

On October 27, 1964, a stranger entered a young woman's home posing as a detective. He tied the victim to her bed, sexually assaulted her, and suddenly left, saying "I'm sorry" as he went. The woman's description of her attacker led police to identify the assailant as DeSalvo. When his photo was published, many women identified him as the man who had assaulted them. Earlier on October 27, DeSalvo had posed as a motorist with car trouble and attempted to enter a home in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. The homeowner, future Brockton police chief Richard Sproules, became suspicious and eventually fired a shotgun at DeSalvo.

DeSalvo was not initially suspected of being involved with the strangling murders. After he was charged with rape, he gave a detailed confession of his activities as the Boston Strangler. He initially confessed to fellow inmate George Nassar. Nassar reported the confession to his attorney F. Lee Bailey, who also took on defense of DeSalvo. The police were impressed at the accuracy of DeSalvo's descriptions of the crime scenes. There were some inconsistencies, but DeSalvo was able to cite details that had been withheld from the public. Bailey states in his 1971 book, The Defense Never Rests, that DeSalvo got one detail right that one of the victims was wrong about: DeSalvo described a blue chair in the woman's living room. She stated it was brown. Photographic evidence proved DeSalvo was correct.

No physical evidence substantiated his confession. Because of that, he was tried on charges for earlier, unrelated crimes of robbery and sexual offenses, in which he was known as "The Green Man" and "The Measuring Man", respectively. Bailey brought up DeSalvo's confession to the murders as part of his client's history at the trial in order to assist in gaining a "not guilty by reason of insanity" verdict to the sexual offenses, but it was ruled as inadmissible by the judge.

DeSalvo was sentenced to life in prison in 1967. In February of that year, he escaped with two fellow inmates from Bridgewater State Hospital, triggering a full-scale manhunt. A note was found on his bunk addressed to the superintendent. In it, DeSalvo stated that he had escaped to focus attention on the conditions in the hospital and his own situation. Immediately after his escape, DeSalvo disguised himself as a U.S. Navy Petty Officer Third Class, but the next day he gave himself up. Following the escape, he was transferred to the maximum security Walpole State Prison. Six years after the transfer, he was found stabbed to death in the prison infirmary. His killer or killers were never identified.

Prior to DNA confirmation in 2013, doubts existed as to whether DeSalvo was the Boston Strangler. At the time when he confessed, people who knew him personally did not believe him capable of such vicious crimes. Creating doubt of a serial killer, who characteristically has a certain type of victim and method of murder, the women killed by "The Strangler" were from a variety of age and ethnic groups, and there were different modi operandi.

In 1968, Dr. Ames Robey, medical director of Bridgewater State Hospital, insisted that DeSalvo was not the Boston Strangler. He said the prisoner was "a very clever, very smooth compulsive confessor who desperately needs to be recognized." Robey's opinion was shared by Middlesex District Attorney John J. Droney, Bridgewater Superintendent Charles Gaughan, and George W. Harrison, a former fellow inmate of DeSalvo's. Harrison claimed to have overheard another convict coaching DeSalvo about details of the strangling murders. [13]

DeSalvo's attorney Bailey believed that his client was the killer, and described the case in The Defense Never Rests (1971). [2] Susan Kelly, author of the book The Boston Stranglers (1996), drew from the files of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts "Strangler Bureau". She argues that the murders were the work of several killers rather than a single individual. Former FBI profiler Robert Ressler said, "You're putting together so many different patterns [regarding the Boston Strangler murders] that it's inconceivable behaviorally that all these could fit one individual." [14]

John E. Douglas, the former FBI special agent who was one of the first criminal profilers, doubted that DeSalvo was the Boston Strangler. In his book The Cases That Haunt Us, he identified DeSalvo as a "power-assurance" motivated rapist. [ clarification needed ] He said that such a rapist is unlikely to kill in the manner of crimes attributed to the Boston Strangler a power-assurance motivated rapist would, however, be prone to taking credit for the crimes.

In 2000, attorney and former print journalist Elaine Sharp took up the cause of the DeSalvo family and that of the family of Mary Sullivan. Sullivan was publicized as being the final victim in 1964, although other strangling murders occurred after that date. Sharp assisted the families in their media campaign to clear DeSalvo's name. She helped organize and arrange the exhumations of Mary Sullivan and Albert H. DeSalvo, filed various lawsuits in attempts to obtain information and trace evidence (e.g., DNA) from the government, and worked with various producers to create documentaries to explain the facts to the public. [15]

Sharp noted various inconsistencies between DeSalvo's confessions and the crime scene information (which she obtained). For example, she observed that, contrary to DeSalvo's confession to Sullivan's murder, the woman was found to have no semen in her vagina and she was not strangled manually, but by ligature. Forensic pathologist Michael Baden noted that DeSalvo got the time of death wrong. This was a common inconsistency also pointed out by Susan Kelly in several of the murders. She continues to work on the case for the DeSalvo family. [15]

On July 11, 2013, the Boston Police Department announced that they had found DNA evidence which linked DeSalvo to the murder of Mary Sullivan. [16] DNA found at the scene was a "near certain match" to Y-DNA taken from a nephew of DeSalvo. Y-DNA is passed through the direct male lines with little change and can be used to link males with a common paternal-line ancestor. A court ordered the exhumation of DeSalvo's to test his DNA directly. [17] On July 19, 2013, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis announced the DNA test results proving that DeSalvo was the source of seminal fluid recovered at the scene of Sullivan's 1964 murder. [18]


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