Boston Strangler, American serial killer who terrorized the Boston, Mass., area during a killing spree (Jun., 1962–Jan, 1964) that claimed the lives of at least 11 women. The first six victims were middle-aged or elderly; the subsequent ones were mainly young. All were attacked in their homes, sexually molested, and strangled; there were no signs of forced entry. In 1965, Albert DeSalvo, an ex-laborer, convicted rapist, and inmate at Bridgewater State Hospital, claimed to be the Boston Strangler. He confessed to 13 murders and supplied authorities with many accurate details. Sentenced (1967) to life in prison for several rapes, but never tried for the Strangler murders, DeSalvo was confined at Walpole State Prison, where in 1973 he was murdered by fellow inmates. Doubts about whether he was indeed the Boston Strangler surfaced early, and a variety of factors convinced many that he was not the real perpetrator. In 2001 DNA and other evidence showed that DeSalvo had most likely not committed one of the killings previously attributed to him. Serious doubts remain regarding his responsibility for other Strangler murders. Never officially closed, the Boston Strangler case has given rise to numerous books, films, and TV programs.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.