Mary sullivan

Mary Sullivan

Real Name: Mary Sullivan
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Date: January 4, 1964


Details: On January 4, 1964, roommates found nineteen-year-old Mary Sullivan raped and strangled to death with a dark stocking. A "Happy New Year" card was placed at her feet. Authorities collected semen from her body, but in 1964 forensic evidence was not able to identify her killer. They soon connected her murder to the twelve other Boston, Massachusetts murders in the past two years, committed by the same man. They called him the "Boston Strangler" because each victim had been strangled in a similar fashion. Over many months, investigators had several strong suspects but no arrests were made. However, in early 1965, a twenty-nine-year-old inmate at a local mental hospital named Albert DeSalvo confessed to Mary's murder along with the others. Although he was never charged, he was named the killer and was sent to prison for unrelated sexual charges until he was stabbed to death in 1973. However, two families recently have made an unlikely alliance to challenge his guilt; Mary's and Albert's families. In fall 1999, Casey Sherman, the son of Diane Dodd, Mary's older sister, took a renewed interest in his aunt's story. Diane and Casey never believed that Albert killed Mary, so they decided that her body needed to be exhumed to find the evidence needed to clear him. The Sullivans asked for help from George Washington University professor James E. Starrs, and he asked for help from forensic molecular biologist Dr. David Foran. He and his partners were able to successfully remove DNA samples from her body, and it was compared to DNA from Albert's brother, Richard. The results showed that the DNA found on her body did not belong to him, so he could not have been her killer. Casey has found several possible suspects that were not thoroughly investigated by police after Albert was arrested, but his aunt's killer is still unidentified.
Suspects: Two possible suspects in the case are Mary's ex-boyfriend and her roommate's boyfriend. Both men had access to the apartment, and an ascot found in the toilet in her apartment was believed to have belonged to her ex-boyfriend. Her sister, Diane Dodd, believes that he was abusive and could have killed her. An eyewitness saw a man matching her roommate's boyfriend at the scene of the crime. Also, she spent her last day alive with him for some time and he apparently took their key to the apartment. Finally, he failed a polygraph test, but once Albert confessed, investigations into the two men stopped. Her family believes that the person who killed her was someone she had known.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the June 28, 2002 episode.
Results: Unresolved. On July 11, 2013, DNA eventually linked long-time suspect Albert DeSalvo to Mary's murder, but it is unknown if he was connected to the other "Boston Strangler" murders. Without DNA evidence to link DeSalvo to the other murders, his link to the other murders remains tenuous at best.

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