Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley, left, faces reporters as Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, right, looks on during a news conference at Boston Police headquarters on July 11.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Steven Senne
BOSTON (AP) — Advances in DNA technology have allowed investigators to link longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler, a prosecutor said Thursday.
The DNA produced a "familial match" with the late DeSalvo in the rape and murder of Mary Sullivan, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said. DeSalvo's remains were being exhumed, and Conley said he expected investigators to find an exact match when the evidence is compared with his DNA.
Sullivan, 19, was found strangled in her Boston apartment in January 1964. Sullivan, who had moved from her Cape Cod home to Boston just three days before her death, had long been considered the strangler's last victim.
The announcement represented the most definitive evidence yet linking DeSalvo to the case. Eleven Boston-area women between the ages of 19 and 85 were sexually assaulted and killed between 1962 and 1964, crimes that terrorized the region and made national headlines.
DeSalvo, married with children, a blue collar worker and Army veteran, confessed to the 11 Boston Strangler murders, as well as two others.
Represented by F. Lee Bailey, DeSalvo was never convicted of the Boston Strangler killings. He was sentenced to life in prison for a series of armed robberies and sexual assaults and was stabbed to death in the state's maximum security prison in Walpole in 1973 — but not before he recanted his confession.
Sullivan's nephew Casey Sherman has for years maintained that DeSalvo did not kill his aunt and even wrote a book on the case pointing to other possible suspects.
He said he accepted the new findings after concluding that the DNA evidence against DeSalvo appeared to be overwhelming.
"I only go where the evidence leads," he said.
He thanked police and praised them "for their incredible persistence."
Officials stressed that the DNA evidence links DeSalvo only to Sullivan's killing and that no DNA evidence is believed to exist for the other Boston Strangler slayings.
State Attorney General Martha Coakley, however, said investigators hoped that solving Sullivan's case might put to rest doubts about DeSalvo's guilt.
Conley said the "familial match" excludes 99.99 percent of suspects but isn't enough to close the case.
A woman who answered the phone at the home of DeSalvo's brother Richard said the family had no comment. She did not identify herself.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.