MA MA - ALBERT DESALVO, The Boston Strangler, 1960's

Discussion in 'Serial Killers' started by STANDREID, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. Susan Kelly

    Susan Kelly New Member

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    First of all, my thanks to Standreid and Dragonfyree for their kind words about my book, "The Boston Stranglers." I'm very glad you enjoyed it!

    I've read this discussion with great interest. If you have any question for me, particularly about the developments in the case last summer, I'll be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.

    "The Boston Strangers" came out in a third edition last October (a Hallowe'en special, I guess) from Kensington Books. In it, I added an update that ran as far as 2012. There was a previous update to the second edition of the book that covered events in the case up through 2001. If you read it, you'll know that I was present at the 2001 autopsy of DeSalvo (observing through a window) and that DeSalvo's DNA was compared to two specimens of foreign DNA taken from Mary Sullivan's remains. DeSalvo's DNA didn't match either. One of those DNA samples did, however, match the DNA of a suspect in the Sullivan homicide who wasn't DeSalvo.

    The third edition of "The Boston Stranglers" was in production at the time of DeSalvo's exhumation in 2013, so I couldn't include that material in the new edition of the book. BUT--I did write an article about it, which I posted at my Amazon Author Page. Go here to read it: amzn.to/18wHstx

    Again, thanks. I look forward to answering any questions you might have.

    Susan Kelly
     


  2. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    Hi Susan and welcome. Do you have an opinion on "fringe suspects" Charles Edward Terry and John Norman Collins?
     
  3. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    When I started this thread, I'm almost certain that I did not include DeSalvo's name in the title. Apparently, the Mods added the name for, perhaps, a Google aid.
     
  4. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    Maybe even add Roy Smith to the question.
     
  5. Susan Kelly

    Susan Kelly New Member

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    Hi, Stan, and thanks for your welcome. It's nice to be here.

    As far as Terry and Collins are concerned, their names never came up in the original case files, nor were they raised by any of the surviving investigators, forensic psychiatrists, or attorneys whom I interviewed. I focused on those suspects whom detectives had very good reason to consider viable. In the case of Beverly Samans, for example, a man gave a very detailed and accurate confession to her murder, far more so than did DeSalvo. This guy was arrested, but cut loose by a judge for reasons that were never explained.

    As for Roy Smith, there was a great number of piece of physical evidence to connect him to the murder of Bessie Goldberg, but nothing to suggest he had anything to do with any of the other deaths.

    This is not to say that neither Terry nor Collins wasn't involved in any of the murders. But there is nothing in the case files--and I think I'm the only person since about 1968 who's read them all--to implicate either one.
     
  6. Susan Kelly

    Susan Kelly New Member

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    I should have added that I don't consider the Boston Stranglings to have been serial killings. The murders were very much unalike in a number of important respects, and you all know that serial killers stick to a type of victim and generally have a set of rituals they perform. It's virtually impossible that someone who killed five elderly white women within a relatively short space of time would then take a break, and for his next victim pick a beautiful young black woman (Sophie Clark) to kill.

    You can make a case that some of the older white women might have been murdered by the same person, but the killings that occurred after that seem to have had individual perpetrators.
     
  7. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    Thanks Susan. I agree there was probably more than one killer although maybe to not to the number that you think.

    Was DeSalvo well persevered at the time of his 2001 exhumation? What is your opinion of the 2013 DNA "findings"?
     
  8. Susan Kelly

    Susan Kelly New Member

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    Actually, he was in rough shape. His face was covered by a mask of beetle husks, and some water had seeped into the coffin, despite the fact that it had been placed in a cement vault. None of this prevented the extraction of a lot of usable DNA samples. The autopsy was performed by Michael Baden, by the way.

    Now, as to the 2013 DNA findings. I went over this in the article at my Amazon Author Page, "Was Albert DeSalvo Really the Boston Strangler?," but, in a nutshell: I was first puzzled why the authorities sent a detective to trail Timothy DeSalvo and obtain a DNA sample from him surreptitiously, when Richard DeSalvo, Albert's brother, had repeatedly offered to give them samples of his own DNA. Also, the blanket from Mary Sullivan's bed that the state lab tested first in 1964 was found then to have no sperm present Decades later, it was said to be untestable because of its state of physical deterioration. (At present, the authorities state that all of the other physical evidence in the Strangler murders has also deteriorated to the point that it's beyond testing. Indeed, they have said that they will not attempt to test any of it.) So how the blanket became testable last summer is an interesting question.

    TBC
     
  9. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    I don't understand why there was a second DNA test. They aren't, to my knowledge, going to retest DNA in the A6 Murder thinking that this time it might come back that Hanratty was innocent.

    Anyway, thanks Susan.
     
  10. Susan Kelly

    Susan Kelly New Member

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    The exhumation and DNA testing done in 2001 were done in order to clarify whether DeSalvo could be tied to the Sullivan murder. (The Commonwealth of Massachusetts wasn't involved in this procedure.) Sullivan's remains had been exhumed earlier, and extensive testing of her body found on it 2 foreign DNA samples. When these were later compared to DeSalvo's DNA, there was no match. One of the foreign DNA samples taken from Sullivan's remains, however, apparently did match that of a prime suspect in her murder. This man wasn't DeSalvo, and he flunked two lie detector tests when initially questioned.
     
  11. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    Thanks for filling those blanks Susan. I'm guessing that this individual was an acquaintance of Mary.
     
  12. Susan Kelly

    Susan Kelly New Member

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    I go into the acquaintanceship a fair amount in my book, and in return to the subject on my Amazon author page. Again, thanks for your interest.
     
  13. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    Ah, I see what you mean. It had been about 12 years since I read your book.
     
  14. Dragonfyree

    Dragonfyree Active Member

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    Susan, I just loved your book. It was a real eye opener, I was so surprised at how different the killings were.

    I think the only problem I have with DNA - is when it doesn't match a suspect everyone always assumes that means they didn't do it. Since we don't know who the DNA belongs to, it could have gotten there in a completely innocent way, the real killer may not have left their DNA behind.

    Don't they do something called touch DNA now, which I think can pick up stuff from really old, not so well preserved items. There must be something from the other crime scenes that this could be tried on. Many were found on beds, don't they still have the linens and blankets - as aren't these technically still unsolved crimes?

    Knowing how the police handled this, it wouldn't surprise me if everything was trashed after they caught DeSalvo.
     
  15. Susan Kelly

    Susan Kelly New Member

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    Thank you so much, Dragonfyre. I really appreciate your comment.

    The Boston Police Department said, most recently, that it has no plans to test any of the physical evidence in the other cases, because it has all deteriorated too badly. But, as you say, there are methods of so doing.

    Another point is that the Commonwealth has in its possession--or should still have--the knife that was used to murder DeSalvo in prison, and surely his DNA would be available on the weapon, since it was quite heavily bloodstained. So would have been the sheets, blankets, et al., on the bed on which he lay when he was killed. So the whole covert operation to obtain Timothy DeSalvo's DNA for comparative purposes seems even more unnecessary than it actually was.

    And yes, The Strangler Murders are still considered unsolved.
     
  16. STANDREID

    STANDREID A slacker when slacker wasn't cool

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    The Strangler is #7 on my top classic unsolved murder list which is currently at 540 and I hope will get to at least 1000 with maybe an additional 25 "almost made its".
     
  17. Dragonfyree

    Dragonfyree Active Member

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    What I have found interesting is some of the more recent TV shows and books where England is using DNA to look at old cases - solved and unsolved.

    There was a DNA sample taken from a slide of the body found in Dr. Crippen's cellar - matched it against great nieces of his wife Cora and finding it doesn't match.

    I also read about that DNA from the A6 murder - which matched James Hanratty, who had been thought to be not guilty by a lot of people.

    I've wondered if they have kept the stuff from the Charles Lindburgh Jr. kidnapping. Would love to see if there was any DNA on it. Get a better answer as to whether Hauptmann was guilty. I think there were letters - so possible DNA on stamps. Or on the baby's clothes and bedding.
     
  18. Susan Kelly

    Susan Kelly New Member

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    I should have added that some authorities have stated that the DNA testing done on Sullivan in 2000 and on DeSalvo in 2001 was not done by the "proper" organizations. In the Sullivan case, it was Dr. Michael Baden. In the DeSalvo case, it was George Washington University. I think both would be considered eminently reputable.
     
  19. Susan Kelly

    Susan Kelly New Member

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    I've read that, back in 2005, someone compared DNA found on the ladder used in the Lindbergh kidnapping with DNA found in the Hauptmann house, and there was a match.
     
  20. i.b.nora

    i.b.nora I am polka dot

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    I have not read your book but I have read some previews from it online. I have it on my list of about 6 books to buy in June or July. Gotta keep the postage costs down so I am waiting for one book I want that comes out in July and then I will order all at once.

    Anyhow, one person I am really curious about is the suspect Bradley Schereschewsky. Has anyone done any further research on him? Checked his DNA? Anything? Is he still alive? I think he would be about 80 or so?
     

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