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MASSACHUSETTS

Attorney: Dead suspect tied to '64 Boston Strangler case through DNA

Suspect’s remains to be exhumed

  • Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley, left, discusses an evidence chart that shows a likeness of homicide victim Mary Sullivan, top right, following a news conference at Boston Police headquarters, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley, left, discusses an evidence chart that shows a likeness of homicide victim Mary Sullivan, top right, following a news conference at Boston Police headquarters, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • 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, in Boston, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Al0bert DeSalvo to homicide victim Mary Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    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, in Boston, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Al0bert DeSalvo to homicide victim Mary Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • Casey Sherman, nephew of homicide victim Mary Sullivan, faces reporters during a news conference at Boston Police headquarters, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. A likeness of Sullivan appears on a chart behind right. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    Casey Sherman, nephew of homicide victim Mary Sullivan, faces reporters during a news conference at Boston Police headquarters, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. A likeness of Sullivan appears on a chart behind right. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • FILE - This Feb. 25, 1967, file photo shows self-confessed Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo minutes after his capture in Boston. DeSalvo confessed to the string of 1960s killings but was never convicted. He died in prison in the 1970s. Massachusetts officials said Thursday, July 11, 2013, that DNA technology led to a breakthrough, putting them in a position to formally charge the Boston Strangler with the murder of Mary Sullivan, last of the slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. (AP Photo, File)

    FILE - This Feb. 25, 1967, file photo shows self-confessed Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo minutes after his capture in Boston. DeSalvo confessed to the string of 1960s killings but was never convicted. He died in prison in the 1970s. Massachusetts officials said Thursday, July 11, 2013, that DNA technology led to a breakthrough, putting them in a position to formally charge the Boston Strangler with the murder of Mary Sullivan, last of the slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. (AP Photo, File)

  • FILE - In this undated black and white file photo, Diane Dodd, left, and son Casey Sherman hold a photo in Rockland, Mass., of Dodd's sister Mary Sullivan, who was found strangled in January 1964 and is believed to have been the last victim of the Boston Strangler. Albert DeSalvo confessed to the string of 1960's killings but was never convicted. He died in prison in the 1970s. Massachusetts officials said Thursday, July 11, 2013, that DNA technology led to a breakthrough, putting them in a position to formally charge the Boston Strangler with the murder of Mary Sullivan. (AP Photo/Patriot Ledger, Greg Derr, File) MANDATORY CREDIT. BOSTON GLOBE OUT. BOSTON HERALD OUT.

    FILE - In this undated black and white file photo, Diane Dodd, left, and son Casey Sherman hold a photo in Rockland, Mass., of Dodd's sister Mary Sullivan, who was found strangled in January 1964 and is believed to have been the last victim of the Boston Strangler. Albert DeSalvo confessed to the string of 1960's killings but was never convicted. He died in prison in the 1970s. Massachusetts officials said Thursday, July 11, 2013, that DNA technology led to a breakthrough, putting them in a position to formally charge the Boston Strangler with the murder of Mary Sullivan. (AP Photo/Patriot Ledger, Greg Derr, File) MANDATORY CREDIT. BOSTON GLOBE OUT. BOSTON HERALD OUT.

  • Casey Sherman, front, nephew of homicide victim Mary Sullivan, faces reporters during a news conference at Boston Police headquarters, in Boston, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley looks on behind. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    Casey Sherman, front, nephew of homicide victim Mary Sullivan, faces reporters during a news conference at Boston Police headquarters, in Boston, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley looks on behind. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • Casey Sherman, front, nephew of homicide victim Mary Sullivan, appears emotional as he talks about his aunt while facing reporters during a news conference at Boston Police headquarters, in Boston, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis looks on behind. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    Casey Sherman, front, nephew of homicide victim Mary Sullivan, appears emotional as he talks about his aunt while facing reporters during a news conference at Boston Police headquarters, in Boston, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis looks on behind. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

  • Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley, left, discusses an evidence chart that shows a likeness of homicide victim Mary Sullivan, top right, following a news conference at Boston Police headquarters, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
  • 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, in Boston, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Al0bert DeSalvo to homicide victim Mary Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
  • Casey Sherman, nephew of homicide victim Mary Sullivan, faces reporters during a news conference at Boston Police headquarters, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. A likeness of Sullivan appears on a chart behind right. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
  • FILE - This Feb. 25, 1967, file photo shows self-confessed Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo minutes after his capture in Boston. DeSalvo confessed to the string of 1960s killings but was never convicted. He died in prison in the 1970s. Massachusetts officials said Thursday, July 11, 2013, that DNA technology led to a breakthrough, putting them in a position to formally charge the Boston Strangler with the murder of Mary Sullivan, last of the slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. (AP Photo, File)
  • FILE - In this undated black and white file photo, Diane Dodd, left, and son Casey Sherman hold a photo in Rockland, Mass., of Dodd's sister Mary Sullivan, who was found strangled in January 1964 and is believed to have been the last victim of the Boston Strangler. Albert DeSalvo confessed to the string of 1960's killings but was never convicted. He died in prison in the 1970s. Massachusetts officials said Thursday, July 11, 2013, that DNA technology led to a breakthrough, putting them in a position to formally charge the Boston Strangler with the murder of Mary Sullivan. (AP Photo/Patriot Ledger, Greg Derr, File) MANDATORY CREDIT. BOSTON GLOBE OUT. BOSTON HERALD OUT.
  • Casey Sherman, front, nephew of homicide victim Mary Sullivan, faces reporters during a news conference at Boston Police headquarters, in Boston, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley looks on behind. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
  • Casey Sherman, front, nephew of homicide victim Mary Sullivan, appears emotional as he talks about his aunt while facing reporters during a news conference at Boston Police headquarters, in Boston, Thursday, July 11, 2013. Investigators helped by advances in DNA technology finally have forensic evidence linking longtime suspect Albert DeSalvo to Sullivan, the last of the 1960s slayings attributed to the Boston Strangler. Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis looks on behind. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The man who once claimed to be the Boston Strangler
has been linked to one of the 11 victims by DNA evidence for the first time, leading to the planned exhumation of his
remains and perhaps putting to rest some speculation
that he wasn’t the notorious killer.

Albert DeSalvo’s remains will be dug up because DNA from the scene of Mary Sullivan’s rape and murder produced a “familial match” with him, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said yesterday.

The police secretly followed DeSalvo’s nephew to collect DNA from a discarded water bottle to help make the connection, officials said. Conley said the match excludes 99.9 percent of suspects, and he expects investigators to find an exact match when the evidence is compared directly with DeSalvo’s DNA.

The district attorney stressed that the evidence only applied to Sullivan’s slaying and not the other 10 homicides.

“Even among experts and law enforcement officials, there is disagreement to this day about whether they were in fact committed by the same person,” Conley said.

Sullivan, 19, had moved from her Cape Cod home to Boston just days before her death. She was found strangled in her Boston apartment in January 1964 and has long been considered the strangler’s last victim.

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 grabbed national headlines.

Yesterday’s announcement represented the first forensic evidence tying DeSalvo to the case.

DeSalvo, a blue-collar worker and Army veteran who was married with children, confessed to the 11 Boston Strangler slayings, as well as two others. But he was never convicted of the Boston Strangler killings.

He had been 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.

An attorney for DeSalvo’s family said yesterday they believe there’s still reasonable doubt he killed Sullivan, even if additional DNA tests show a 100 percent match.

The lawyer, Elaine Sharp, said previous private forensic testing of Sullivan’s remains showed other DNA from what appeared to be semen was present that didn’t match DeSalvo.

“Somebody else was there, we say,” Sharp said of the killing. “I don’t think the evidence is a hundred percent solid, as is being represented here
today.”

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