Official Blog of Author MICHAEL THOMAS BARRY.
A blog which discusses varied topics that are related to the authors many books. Michael is a columnist for CrimeMagazine.com and a reviewer for the New York Journal of Books.
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Monday, December 29, 2014
Boston Strangler Committed Final Murder - January 4, 1964
This week (December 29-January 4) in crime history –
London’s “Railway Rapists” commits first murder (December 29, 1985); Rasputin
was murdered (December 30, 1916); John Salvi goes on murderous rampage at two Massachusetts
abortion clinics (December 30, 1994); Subway Vigilante Bernie Goetz surrendered
to police (December 31, 1984); Real “Looking for Mr. Goodbar” murder (January
1, 1973); Yorkshire Ripper was captured (January 2, 1981); Jack Ruby died (January
3, 1967); Boston Strangler committed his last murder (January 4, 1964).
of the week -
On January 4, 1964, Mary Sullivan was raped and strangled
to death at her Boston apartment. The killer left a card reading "Happy
New Year" leaning against her foot. Sullivan would turn out to be the last
woman killed by the notorious Boston Strangler, Albert DeSalvo, who terrorized
the city between 1962 and 1964, raping and killing over a dozen women.
DeSalvo's serial-killing career was shaped at an early
age. His father would bring home prostitutes and have sex with them in front of
the family, before brutally beating his wife and children. On one occasion,
DeSalvo's father knocked out his mother's teeth and then broke her fingers one
by one while she lay unconscious on the floor. DeSalvo himself was sold by his
father to work as a farm laborer, along with two of his sisters. In the late
1950s, as a young man, DeSalvo acquired the first of his criminal nicknames. He
knocked on the doors of young women, claiming to represent a modeling agency.
He told the women that he needed to take their measurements and proceeded to
crudely fondle the women as he used his tape measure. His stint as the
"Measuring Man" came to an end with his arrest on March 17, 1960, and
he spent nearly a year in prison. When DeSalvo was released, his next series of
crimes were far worse. For nearly two years, he broke into hundreds of
apartments in New England, tied up the women and sexually assaulted them. He
always wore green handyman clothes during his assaults and became known as the
In 1962, DeSalvo started killing his victims. He
strangled Anna Slesers with her own housecoat and tied the ends in a bow, which
would become his trademark. Throughout the summer of 1962, DeSalvo raped and
killed elderly women in Boston. However, by winter he began attacking younger
women, always leaving the rope or cord used to strangle the victim in a bow. Police,
who were thwarted in their attempts to stop the newly dubbed "Boston
Strangler," even brought in a psychic to inspect the clothes of the
victims. However, it was DeSalvo himself who enabled the police to close the
case. On October 27, 1964, after raping another young woman, he suddenly
stopped before killing her. When the victim called police and gave a
description of her attacker, police arrested DeSalvo. DeSalvo confessed the
murders to his cellmate George Nasser. Nasser told his attorney, F. Lee Bailey,
about DeSalvo, and Bailey took on DeSalvo as a client. Under a deal with
prosecutors, DeSalvo was never charged with the Boston Strangler crimes,
getting a life sentence instead for the Green Man rapes. Still, DeSalvo's life
term was short. He was stabbed to death by an unidentified fellow inmate at
Walpole State Prison on November 26, 1973.
Check back every
Monday for a new installment of “This Week in Crime History.”
Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for www.crimemagazine.com and is the author
of six nonfiction books that includes the award winning Murder & Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949.
Visit Michael’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com
for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the