From the archives | Photos
The Boston Strangler
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The Boston Strangler first struck on June 14, 1962, and the panic that gripped the city lasted until after the last victim died on Jan. 4, 1964. The fear led to a run on door locks and other security measures, and many women were reported to stop venturing out at night and to fear staying alone. Thirteen women were murdered, most of them sexually assaulted and strangled. No one was ever convicted of the crimes, but one man confessed. Albert DeSalvo, already in custody for robbery and sexual assault, claimed to be the Strangler. Serving his sentence in Bridgewater State Hospital for his other crimes, DeSalvo escaped with two other inmates and triggered a massive manhunt. He was captured the next day, Feb. 25, 1967. DeSalvo was stabbed to death in his sleep in Walpole State Prison on Nov. 26, 1973. The grisly crimes inspired several books and films, and even the Rolling Stones’ song “Midnight Rambler.”
- Lane Turner
Edward Jenner/Globe staff
Sept. 3, 1962: Boston police detectives worked through the night trying to solve the Strangler case after Jane Sullivan, 67, was discovered on Aug. 30, 1962, throttled to death in her apartment. She was believed to be the sixth victim. On this night, news stories reported police were searching for a 56-year-old Brookline man who had been arrested more than once for trying to choke women. This suspect had a history of mental illness, and had worked as a practical nurse in at least seven hospitals in the city, getting the jobs through false documentation. A common thread with five victims was that they had some connection with hospitals or medical clinics. Jane Sullivan had worked as a night-shift nurse at Longwood Hospital.
Joe Runci/Globe Staff
Sept. 3, 1962: Boston police detectives spent hours seeking new leads and running down hundreds of tips and suspects. Several suspects were taken into custody for questioning and the Brighton division arrested a 27-year-old man found sleeping in the bushes near where Nina G. Nichols, the fourth victim, had been killed on June 30, 1962. No one on this night was held for any of the murders to date.
The Boston Globe
Sept. 29, 1962: Mrs. Mary Coltin of Uphams Corner in Dorchester took her new shepherd, Duke, home to serve as a watchdog as fear drove women to protect themselves from the Boston Strangler. Coltin’s friend Mrs. Florence Nyles, left, of South Boston, joined her.
upi telephoto/Boston Globe Archive
Feb. 25, 1967: Suspected Boston Strangler Albert DeSalvo, wearing sailor's garb, is shown leaving the Lynn police station. His capture ended a nationwide manhunt begun when DeSalvo and two other inmates broke out of Bridgewater State Hospital the previous day. DeSalvo was captured at Simmons Uniform Co. at 741 Western Ave. He had spent the night in a nearby cellar and had found a sailor's pea jacket and trousers to replace his prison gear. He entered the store at 2:35 p.m. and asked salesman Frederick Waldron for permission to use the phone. DeSalvo told him, "I want to call F. Lee Bailey." When Waldron heard the name of DeSalvo's attorney, he told the manager, James Trelegan, to call the police. DeSalvo was arrested shortly thereafter.
Ollie Noonan Jr./Globe Staff
Feb. 25, 1967: As news spread that DeSalvo had been arrested, crowds of newspaper reporters and photographers, as well as curious onlookers, lined the street outside Lynn police headquarters to get a glimpse of the alleged Boston Strangler in the State Police wagon. Within an hour of the arrest, DeSalvo was taken before Judge Cornelius J. Moynihan in Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge. The judge committed DeSalvo to Walpole State Prison (now called Massachusetts Correctional Institution Cedar Junction at Walpole) for life. DeSalvo had been convicted on armed robbery and morals charges on Jan. 18, 1967, and had been remanded to Bridgewater State Hospital, from which he had escaped the previous day. The judge revoked the previous order, which had suspended execution of a life sentence to Walpole. In a six-car caravan crammed full of deputy sheriffs and state troopers armed with shotguns, the high-speed ride to Walpole ended at 7:15 p.m. as DeSalvo was placed behind bars.