Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Boston Strangler

DeSalvo Confesses

In early March of 1965, DeSalvo's wife Irmgard got a call at her sister's house in Denver from a man named F. Lee Bailey, who said he was Albert's attorney. He told her to assume a different name, leave the area with her children and go into hiding at once to avoid the deluge of publicity that was going to descend upon her if she didn't do what he said. "Something big is going to blow up about Albert – it will be on the front pages of every newspaper in 24 hours. I'm flying out to see you tomorrow so I can help you myself."

The next day she was told that Albert had confessed to being the Strangler. She hung up on the man in disbelief. She couldn't understand why he would confess to such a lie. There was no way that she could believe that he was capable of such brutality. It had to be another of Albert's attempts to make himself seem important. Some newspaper must be offering him money. That had to be the reason.

What had brought all of this about? Well, Albert was starting to think about money: money specifically to support his family while he was in jail. He had a pretty good idea that with the charges against him that he could end up spending the rest of his life in jail. Somehow he had to take care of Irmgard and his two children. The idea of selling a story and collecting reward money began to take shape in his mind.

Some months earlier before Albert was sent to Bridgewater, his lawyer Jon Asgiersson went to see Albert who asked him, "What would you do if someone gave you the biggest story of the century?"

"Do you mean the Boston Strangler?"

Albert said yes.

"Are you mixed up in all of them, Albert? Did you do some of them?"

"All of them," Albert admitted. He thought the story might bring some money for his family.

Asgiersson wasn't quite sure what to do with this information and seriously considered the possibility that Albert was insane. He began a quiet inquiry.

F. Lee Bailey
F. Lee Bailey

Meantime, Albert went to Bridgewater and struck up his friendship with George Nassar. Regardless of whose idea it was, the two discussed the reward money for information leading to the conviction of the Strangler. Nassar and DeSalvo mistakenly assumed that $10,000 would be paid for each victim of the Strangler or a total of $110,000 for the eleven official victims. If Nassar turned him in and DeSalvo confessed, they could work out a deal to split the money.

DeSalvo, who expected to spend the rest of his life in an institution, did not intend to get himself executed. But then, no one had been executed in the state for seventeen years.

There was a good chance that he could convince the shrinks that he was insane and could spend the rest of his life in a mental hospital instead of a prison. Not too bad, considering the alternatives, especially when he didn't have to worry about money for his family..

F. Lee Bailey, who had already distinguished himself in the Dr. Sam Sheppard case, was George Nassar's lawyer. Bailey heard about DeSalvo from Nassar and went to visit Albert with a Dictaphone on March 6. Not only did Albert confess to the murders of the eleven "official" victims, but he admitted to killing two other women, Mary Brown in Lawrence and another elderly woman who died of a heart attack before he could strangle her.

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