The Testament According to Albert DeSalvo

As Mick Jagger once asked: ‘Have you heard about the Boston Strangler?’

Between 1962 and 1964 the city of Boston was terrorised by an ultra-violent serial killer, originally dubbed The Mad Strangler, but more popularly known (thanks to a series of press articles in 1963) as the Boston Strangler. In all 13 single women between the ages of 19 and 85 were murdered: most were sexually assaulted and strangled in their apartments by what was assumed to be one man.

In late 1964, in addition to the Strangler murders, the police were also trying to solve a series of rapes committed by a man who had been dubbed the Green Man. After a stranger entered a young woman's home in East Cambridge, tied her to a bed and sexually assaulted her, he left, saying ‘I'm sorry’. Her description led police to identify the assailant as Albert Henry DeSalvo, former naval petty officer and long-time petty criminal. When his photo was published, many women identified him as the man who had assaulted them. DeSalvo was not originally connected with the murders, but he gave a detailed confession to a cellmate George Nassar and, under hypnosis, to Doctor William Joseph Bryan, Jr., after he was charged with rape. However, there was no physical evidence to substantiate his confession and, because of this, he was tried for earlier, unrelated crimes of robbery and sexual offences.

After DeSalvo was apprehended, news reporter and author Dick Levitan (who worked for Boston’s talk radio station WEEI), was one of the very few reporters allowed to interview him. In a very creepy twist, Levitan was paid an undisclosed sum by Astor Records to record himself narrating DeSalvo’s words (rumour has it that the company also paid DeSalvo $50), putting him together with the local Beatles-influenced beat group The Bugs to produce Strangler in the Night. The Bugs also provided the b-side, Albert, Albert, about DeSalvo’s crime spree. The sleeve for the single reads: “...These are my thoughts, feelings and emotions.” Albert H. DeSalvo. These days it sells (well, people advertise copies for sale) for anything from $20 to $200.

The true identity of the murderer of the 13 women has been the cause of much debate over the years. Although DeSalvo copped for the crimes he was never tried for them and consequently never found guilty. He was found stabbed to death in the infirmary of Walpole State prison in 1973. 40 years later Boston law enforcement officials announced that DNA evidence had linked DeSalvo to 19-year-old Mary Sullivan, the last of the Boston Strangler’s victims. DeSalvo's remains were exhumed, and further DNA tests proved that the seminal fluid recovered at the scene of Mary Sullivan's 1964 murder was, in fact, DeSalvo’s.

Here are both sides of this infamous recording.


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