Prosecutors told to deal with families in Strangler case

By Steve Leblanc, Associated Press, 12/15/2000

OSTON - A federal judge ordered the attorney general yesterday to negotiate with the families of the Boston Strangler and one of his victims over the release of evidence from the four-decade-old murders.

The families of Albert DeSalvo, who confessed to the Boston Strangler murders, and of Mary Sullivan, believed to be one of his victims, hope to prove that DeSalvo is not the Boston Strangler and that Sullivan's killer has escaped justice.

The attorney general's office is fighting release of the evidence, but acknowledged yesterday that some evidence does exist, including tissue samples and personal property of Sullivan, according to Daniel S. Sharp, an attorney representing the DeSalvo and Sullivan families.

US District Court Judge William G. Young refused to dismiss the case filed by the families and instead ordered the attorney general's office, the Boston police, and the Suffolk district attorney's office to negotiate with them.

''We believe that Albert DeSalvo did not kill Mary Sullivan and that Albert DeSalvo was not the Boston Strangler and that the killer of Mary Sullivan has not been brought to justice,'' Sharp said. ''Both families have a common interest in getting to what really happened in this case.''

An aide to Attorney General Thomas Reilly said prosecutors are willing to sit down with the families and move the case forward. In the past, Reilly has said that the current case is about the Sullivan murder, not the entire string of Boston Strangler murders.

''Our focus is on the Mary Sullivan case; we want to see where it will take us,'' Reilly spokeswoman Ann Donlan said yesterday.

Sharp said the families obtained a copy of DeSalvo's tape-recorded confession, in which he said he strangled Sullivan with his bare hands and sexually penetrated her.

That confession is at odds with the original autopsy of Sullivan, which showed Sullivan was strangled with a ligature, not manually, and was not sexually penetrated, Sharp said.

DeSalvo confessed to the 11 Boston Strangler murders and the murders of two other women, but was never charged with them. He was killed in prison in 1973, while serving time on an unrelated rape conviction.

The Boston Strangler case, a notorious series of murders in which Sullivan and 10 other women were strangled in Boston, occurred between June 1962 and January 1964.

Sullivan was 19 when she was killed Jan. 4, 1964. She is believed to be the last of the Boston Strangler's victims.

In October, Sullivan's family exhumed her body and collected more evidence that backs up the theory that DeSalvo was not Sullivan's killer and that the true Boston Strangler has never been caught, Sharp said.

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