BOSTON (AP) — DNA tests confirm that the man who once claimed to be the Boston Strangler did kill the woman believed to be the serial killer's last victim and was likely responsible for the deaths of the other victims, authorities said Friday.
Albert DeSalvo admitted to killing Mary Sullivan and 10 other women in the Boston area between 1962 and 1964 but later recanted. He was later killed in prison.
The DNA finding "leaves no doubt that Albert DeSalvo was responsible for the brutal murder of Mary Sullivan" and it was "most likely" that he also was the Boston Strangler, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said.
Authorities said recently that new technology allowed them to test semen left at the crime scene of Sullivan's death using DNA from a living relative of DeSalvo's. That produced a match with DeSalvo that excluded 99.9 percent of suspects.
To confirm the match, investigators unearthed his remains a week ago and said Friday that the odds that the semen belonged to a male other than DeSalvo were 1 in 220 billion.
"It's a great day. This is now full justice for my aunt, Mary Sullivan," said her nephew, Casey Sherman.
A lawyer for DeSalvo's family has said even a perfect match wouldn't mean he killed Sullivan. She was 19 when she died in January 1964, a few days after she moved from Cape Cod to Boston.
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.
Law enforcement officials disagree about whether the same person killed all the women whose deaths were connected to the Strangler.
Sherman had once joined with the DeSalvo family in believing that Albert DeSalvo wasn't his aunt's killer.
He said Friday that he thinks there will always be unanswered questions related to the Strangler case, but when it comes to his loved one's slaying, his family finally has a sense of closure.
"He's the killer of my aunt, which is all this has been about for me," Sherman said.
Statement from DeSalvo famly attorney Elaine Whitfield Sharp:
"For reasons that will become clear, the 'DNA results' issued today and last week by the Boston Police Department, Suffolk County District Attorney and Boston-mayoral hopeful Dan Conley and Attorney General Martha Coakley have not been proved to be relevant to answer the question of whether Albert H. DeSalvo raped and/or strangled Mary A. Sullivan on January 4, 1964.
At this time, the family of Albert DeSalvo, more specifically, Richard DeSalvo, Albert's brother, and Albert's nephew, decline to comment on these allegedly 'definitive results' because, as stated, they have not been proved to be relevant to the question of whether Albert raped and strangled Mary.
Because the DNA results announced today have not been proved to be relevant, there is no level of "unprecedented certainty," as now claimed by the government.
We ask the media and the public not to take at face value what the government agents have announced today. There is more to come on this matter, and we are very grateful for your patience in waiting for comment.
CONTRARY TO A SCURRILOUS STATEMENTS BY THE GOVERNMENT THAT THE DESALVOS MAY 'FLEE,' THE DESALVOS HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE, AND HAVE DONE NO WRONG."