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Top 5 Gruesome Boston Strangler Facts

VO: Chris Masson

Written by George Pacheco Top 5 Vicious Boston Strangler Facts

The Boston Strangler murders are a curious case. It's generally believed that Albert DeSalvo, who confessed to the crimes, was the Strangler. However, there's more to this cold case... In the episode of WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts, as part of our special series on famous murderers, we count down the most interesting and vicious facts and explore some of the alternative possibilities.

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Written by George Pacheco

Top 5 Facts About the Boston Strangler

You can't run from your past forever. Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts, and our special series about famous murderers. For this list, we'll be ranking the most interesting facts surrounding Albert DeSalvo, the man who confessed to the strangulation, assault and murder of eleven women in the Boston area during the early 1960s. These murders were projected in the media and popular culture as being the work of a serial killer known as "The Boston Strangler," and here are our picks for the five most intriguing bits of information from this very complex and troubling case.

#5: Victims Were Usually Strangled with Their Own Underwear or Stockings

The Boston Strangler crimes were also referred to as "The Silk Stocking Murders," due to the fact that most of the victims were strangled with articles of their own clothing. Albert DeSalvo also earned the nickname "The Phantom Strangler" due to his ability to make his way into his victims's apartments with relative ease. This was achieved usually by DeSalvo posing as some sort of repairman, delivery service or sales associate making rounds in the neighborhood. The aftermath of DeSalvo's crimes also featured some troubling calling cards, such as when his victims were discovered with their bondage ties knotted up neatly in a bow. The final Strangler victim Mary Sullivan was also found with a card left near her foot which read "Happy New Year."

#4: The Strangler Was Once Known As "The Measuring Man."

Yes, before he confessed to being the Boston Strangler, he had another criminal alias. But tragically, his history of violence goes back even further. Sources close to the DeSalvo family reported that his father Frank was a violent alcoholic and extremely abusive towards his wife Charlotte and their kids. Frank DeSalvo reportedly battered his spouse and forced the children to witness his rendez-vous with prostitutes. Albert turned to crime early in life; he was known to torture animals, and was arrested for battery and robbery at only twelve years old. As an adult, he earned a nickname of "The Measuring Man," due to his practice of knocking on doors of women in the area, asking if he could take their measurements for modeling photos. He would then fondle and proposition them for sex during the process, a ritual whose severity worsened to the point where DeSalvo was eventually arrested for a series of rapes in the Boston area.

#3: Albert DeSalvo Escaped from Prison the Same Year He Was Convicted

In 1967 DeSalvo was sentenced to life in prison over his stint as The Measuring Man. While awaiting trial, DeSalvo confessed to cellmate George Nassar that he was indeed the Boston Strangler. The police were impressed by the level of detail with which DeSalvo could describe the crime scenes, but ultimately there was no evidence to link him to the murders, and so he was not tried. After starting to serve his sentence at Bridgewater State Hospital, DeSalvo then made a daring escape with two other inmates. His time as a free man didn't last long, however, as DeSalvo eventually turned himself in after only three days on the lam, whereupon he was brought to a maximum security prison in Walpole, Massachusetts. Six years later he was stabbed to death by an unknown assailant. Although Robert Wilson, a purported associate of James "Whitey" Bulger's Winter Hill Gang, was tried for DeSalvo's murder, the case ended in a hung journey, and no other suspects were ever being brought up on charges.

#2: His Body Was Exhumed to Solve the Final Strangler Murder

Before his death, Albert DeSalvo recanted his earlier Boston Strangler confessions, casting some degree of doubt on the killer’s identity once more. We’ll get into that doubt more in a minute, but as such there might never be closure for some of the families of the Boston Strangler killings, but for the loved ones of Mary Sullivan, the youngest Strangler victim at only nineteen, justice was finally served. In 2013, DeSalvo’s body was exhumed in order to officially link him to the DNA found at the scene of Sullivan's rape and murder. In July of that year, officials revealed that there was a link to the genetic DNA strain of Albert DeSalvo and seminal fluid found in Mary Sullivan's apartment. Mary Sullivan's nephew Casey Sherman was skeptical about this news, as he believed Albert DeSalvo innocent of this crime and had actually been working with the DeSalvo family to exonerate him.

#1: There Might Have Been More Than One Killer

Yes, many have posited that the murders attributed to the Strangler were so varied that they couldn’t possibly the work of just one perpetrator. Furthermore, there were number of inconsistencies in DeSalvo's confession, and some inaccurate descriptions of details and times of death for a number of his victims. Some speculate that George Nassar, DeSalvo’s roommate who heard his first confession, and DeSalvo were somehow in cahoots. DeSalvo may have confessed so he could take the fall for Nassar– after all, DeSalvo was already going to be in prison for life. Or maybe he confessed so that Nassar could take the reward money and give some to DeSalvo's wife and child on the outside. This theory doesn't eliminate the fact that DeSalvo was linked to Mary Sullivan's murder via his DNA, however, adding further fuel to the conspiracy fires which will probably always surround the mystery of The Boston Strangler.

So, who do you think was behind the Strangler Murders? Was it DeSalvo? George Nassar? A bunch of twisted weirdos? For more justice seeking top tens and wrongfully convicted top fives, be sure to subscribe to

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