Man believed to be Boston Strangler reburied after exhumation for second autopsy

Monday, October 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PEABODY, Mass. (AP) _ The remains of the man believed to be the Boston Strangler were reburied Monday after an exhumation for testing that could clear his name and solve the mystery surrounding his murder.

Albert DeSalvo confessed to killing 11 Boston women between 1962 and 1964, but recanted before being stabbed to death in prison while serving a sentence for rape. He was never charged in the killings.

During a weekend autopsy at York College in Pennsylvania, a team of forensic scientists collected samples for DNA testing and examined the 16 stab wounds DeSalvo suffered when he was killed in prison in 1973.

A few investigators and the DeSalvo family, which requested the tests, are convinced that DeSalvo was not the Boston Strangler.

Project leader and George Washington University professor James Starrs, a forensics specialist, said Sunday that he already wants to expand the size of his team as a result of unexpected findings.

Starrs would not discuss what the team had found but promised a ``blockbuster'' report when the research is complete, which could take up to a year.

The family of Mary Sullivan, the strangler's last victim, has joined DeSalvo's family in seeking a new look at the case. Sullivan's body was exhumed last year and the results appeared to contradict DeSalvo's account of the slaying.

The DeSalvo and Sullivan families believe DeSalvo confessed because he hoped to make money from book and movie deals.

Following a private ceremony for the reburial Monday, DeSalvo's family members said they hope the new tests, together with evidence from the Sullivan autopsy, will clear his name.

``So many different detectives have said he didn't do it,'' said DeSalvo's son, Michael, 41.

The family also hopes to clear up the circumstances of DeSalvo's death.

Three inmates were tried for the killing, but a jury failed to reach a decision in one trial and a mistrial was declared in another. Prosecutors had said they believed the men were trying to keep DeSalvo from entering the prison drug trade.

Last year, Attorney General Thomas Reilly began reinvestigating Sullivan's murder at the request of the two families. Ann Donlan, a spokeswoman for Reilly, said the investigation is stalled because DeSalvo's brother, Richard, refused to provide a DNA sample to compare with evidence found at the scene of Sullivan's murder.

DeSalvo's lawyers claim he has offered several times to give his DNA to Reilly's office if the attorney general would agree to share other evidence with them, including material found at the murder scene.