Why Was The Boston Strangler Never Convicted?

November 1964 Boston is in the grip of a city-wide panic caused by a series of murders by the so-called “Boston Strangler”

For nineteen months, police have attempted to bring the Strangler to justice with little success That is, until a career criminal, Albert DeSalvo, confesses to the crimes The police have their man However, DeSalvo may not have been the terror of Boston he claimed to be The first victim of the strangler was fifty-six-year-old Anna Slesers She was a Latvian immigrant who fled Soviet expansion, and settled in Boston as a seamstress On the evening of the 14th June, 1962, Slesers’ twenty-five-year-old son found her lying dead in the hallway of her apartment on Gainsborough Street She had been sexually assaulted and strangled with the cord of her bathrobe

Within two weeks of Slesers’ murder, the strangler struck again This time the victim was sixty-eight-year-old Nina Nichols, from Commonwealth Avenue The murder appeared to follow the same modus operandi as Sleser’s Three days later another victim was discovered Sixty-five-year-old Helen Blake, in Lynn, ten miles north of Boston, was assaulted and strangled

There were no signs of forced entry into her flat These three murders signalled the start of nineteen months of horror for Boston Ten more victims fell prey to “The Boston Strangler” There was seemingly no pattern as to when or where the killer would strike Then came Albert H

DeSalvo DeSalvo was arrested in November 1964 for a sexual assault unrelated to the murders Unexpectedly, when he was interrogated, DeSalvo admitted to breaking into four hundred apartments and attacking three hundred women over a two year period DeSalvo did indeed have a history of sexual predation, but his claims were deemed almost impossible by police investigators His words certainly didn’t tally with the character references from his wife and his boss

As a result of his confession, DeSalvo was sent to Bridgewater State Hospital for psychiatric evaluation It was there that he met George Nassar George Nassar had his own long history of violent offences He was serving time at Bridgewater for the murder of a gas station attendant in Andover The two became friendly, and according to Nassar, DeSalvo confessed to being the Boston Strangler

Nassar arranged for his attorney, F Lee Bailey, to represent DeSalvo But when the authorities became involved, DeSalvo’s confession did not appear airtight For example, while DeSalvo accurately described details of the murders that were not released to the public, there were several more elements that he got wrong DeSalvo would often get the time of the crimes wrong, and appeared not to know whether he had strangled his victims with his hands or with a ligature

He also stated he had raped Mary Sullivan, his final victim, when there was no evidence of sexual assault Ultimately there was no physical evidence to support any of DeSalvo’s confessions His testimonies were deemed inadmissible in court As well as the lack of evidence, there was the very real fact that the murders only appeared to resemble each other in a superficial manner The victims came from different age and racial demographics, the locations of the murders followed no recognisable pattern, and the purpose and ferocity of the attacks appeared to vary from case to case

As former FBI profiler Robert Ressler said, “You’re putting together so many different patterns that it’s inconceivable behaviourally that all these could fit one individual” The medical director of Bridgewater, Dr Ames Robey, interviewed DeSalvo numerous times in the run up to his trial He quickly determined DeSalvo had a vivid imagination “[He is] a very clever, very smooth compulsive confessor with a desperate need to be recognised… He wanted to be important

If you said you broke into five homes, he’d say he broke into fifty” Furthermore, Robey says that before Nassar arrived at Bridgewater, DeSalvo was friendly with both inmates and guards alike Yet after George Nassar’s arrival, DeSalvo and he were inseparable and secretive Fellow inmate George Harrison said he overheard Nassar almost coaching DeSalvo on details of the murders In 1965, F

Lee Bailey said that after Nassar introduced him to DeSalvo, Nassar said, “The guy who killed all those women, would it be possible for him to publish his story and make some money with it?” Bailey replied he wouldn’t advise it, since such a story would provide evidence that could put the author in the electric chair Nassar’s notion of creating a book deal tallies with another account by Special Officer Jim Mellon, who investigated the case When he questioned DeSalvo’s wife, the first thing she said was, “I don’t know what [Albert is] thinking He’s always got some scheme to make it rich” Certainly, several people involved in the case profited from their association with the Boston Strangler

When producer Robert Fryer secured the film rights to Gerold Frank’s 1966 book about the murders, a senior lawyer in charge of the investigation, John Bottomley, received $29,000 State Attorney General Edward Brooke received $20,000 Both strongly said DeSalvo was guilty Even F Lee Bailey found fame and favour from the case

The only person who received nothing was Albert DeSalvo Yet throughout all this, anyone who had interviewed DeSalvo was convinced he could not have been the Boston Strangler Dr Robey instead believed that Nassar, not DeSalvo, committed at least some of the murders Robey said, “DeSalvo did not fit the profile at all

But George Nassar fit it ideally He had a real hatred of women and was prone to homicidal urges” According to lawyer Elaine Sharp, who represented DeSalvo’s brother Richard, Nassar physically and mentally dominated Albert She says he lured DeSalvo into confessing to Nassar’s crimes with promises of fame and fortune Sharp says that when that fortune wasn’t forthcoming, DeSalvo became dissatisfied

In Albert’s final months, Richard visited his brother in prison While sitting next to George Nassar, Albert told Richard, ""Do you want to know who the real Boston Strangler is? He's sitting right here"" In November 1973, Dr Ames Robey received a call from DeSalvo requesting a meeting DeSalvo told Robey to bring a journalist

Before that meeting took place, DeSalvo was found stabbed to death in the prison infirmary Robey believes he was about to admit he lied about being the Boston Strangler, and someone silenced him, permanently DeSalvo’s killer was never found Following the arrest of Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler’s crimes ceased People began to feel safe again

Yet that in itself does not prove DeSalvo was the Strangler There is no doubt that DeSalvo was a violent rapist, and that he was responsible for at least one of the Strangler’s crimes In 2013, DNA evidence proved conclusively that DeSalvo assaulted and murdered the final victim, Mary Sullivan But DeSalvo’s confession was considered so unreliable that it was inadmissible in court Eventually, DeSalvo was charged and convicted for sexual assault unrelated to the killings

To date no one has been officially charged with the Boston Strangler’s crimes George Nassar and F Lee Bailey are still alive today Both men are in their eighties Almost everyone else involved in the case has died

Time is running out to definitively prove who really was the Boston Strangler

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