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Authorities: DNA match leaves 'no doubt' about Boston Strangler, final victim

Self-confessed Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo minutes after his capture in Boston on Feb. 25, 1967.
Self-confessed Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo minutes after his capture in Boston on Feb. 25, 1967.AP

DNA has been matched from the remains of Albert DeSalvo, the man who confessed to being the Boston Strangler, to crime scene evidence from the murder of a woman believed to be his last victim in 1964.

DeSalvo's body was excavated from a Peabody, Mass., cemetery on July 12 amid a fresh look at the decades-old notorious serial killings, in which the Strangler took the lives of 11 women in the early 1960s — some with their own nylon stockings wrapped around their necks.

Officials in Massachusetts had announced a day before the excavation that because of advances in DNA testing, they believed they had finally linked DeSalvo to the final victim, 19-year-old Mary Sullivan, who was killed in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood.

DeSalvo had confessed to the 1962 to 1964 murder spree, which terrorized Boston and attracted national attention at the time, but investigators doubted his confession due to inconsistencies in it. He was already in prison for unrelated crimes and was never convicted; he died in prison when he was stabbed there in 1973.

On Friday, Massachusetts authorities announced the definitive results of the DNA test from his remains. 

"This leaves no doubt that Albert DeSalvo was responsible for the brutal murder of Mary Sullivan, and most likely that he was responsible for the horrific murders of the other women he confessed to killing," said state attorney general Martha Coaxley. She said she hoped the findings brought "some measure of finality" for Sullivan's family.

Officials said that a nationally recognized lab in Dallas had matched seminal fluid found at the scene of Sullivan's murder "with scientific certainty" to DeSalvo, reported The Boston Globe. According to the lab, the odds that a white male other than DeSalvo was the source of the evidence 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, reported The Associated Press.

The 11 victims of the Strangler ranged in age from 19 and 85. All were sexually assaulted before they were killed.

The cold cases heated up earlier in July when police, who had saved evidence from Sullivan's rape and murder for nearly 50 years, matched DNA from the murder scene to a DNA from a nephew of DeSalvo.

NBC's Erin McClam contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed.