DNA clue could identify Boston Strangler
Investigators in Boston have made a major breakthrough in one of America's most infamous unsolved killing sprees with the help of advances in DNA technology and a water bottle discarded by an unwitting relative of the main suspect.
Fifty years after the city was gripped by fear of the Boston Strangler, prosecutors said new evidence identified the late Albert DeSalvo as the likely killer of the last of the 11 victims who died between 1962 and 1964.
Mary Sullivan (19) was found strangled in her flat in January 1964.
Specimens taken from the scene provided a "familial match" to DNA recovered from a water bottle thrown away by a nephew of DeSalvo, authorities said.
DeSalvo's body will be exhumed to confirm the findings. He was stabbed to death in prison in 1973, where he was serving a life term for armed robberies and sexual assaults.
DeSalvo had told a fellow inmate he was the Strangler, but he was never prosecuted and he later recanted his confessions.
The killings terrorised the city and long fascinated America. Tony Curtis played DeSalvo in a 1968 film about the murders.
"We may have just solved one of the nation's most notorious serial killings," Martha Coakley, the Massachusetts Attorney General said. Most of the victims, who were aged between 19 and 85, were sexually assaulted and strangled, often with their stockings.
With no DNA samples from the other killings, Daniel Conley, the county district attorney, acknowledged doubts that one man killed all the victims would probably never be answered.
Detectives followed male DeSalvo family members to obtain material that could be used for DNA testing and eventually recovered the bottle. (© Daily Telegraph, London)