Boston Strangler: Were Multiple People Behind the Murders?

Boston Strangler: Were Multiple People Behind the Murders?

Hulu’s latest true crime drama Boston Strangler implies that multiple individuals may have been involved in the actual killings which serves as the film’s inspiration.

The film gives rise to greater ambiguity around the true identity of the Boston Strangler, as if we didn’t already have enough. However, I would not really complain, since this is very likely to be the only explanation behind the murders that makes sense.

Boston Strangler features Keira Knightly as Loretta McLaughlin, a journalist who, along with colleague Jean Cole (Carrie Coon), broke the story on the Boston Strangler.

Throughout the movie, set between 1962 to 1965, McLaughlin, Cole, and the Boston Police Department investigate various suspects in hopes of unravelling the mystery.

In both the movie Boston Strangler and in reality, a suspect called Albert DeSalvo admitted to committing the 13 murders attributed to the Boston Strangler.

However, due to a lack of tangible evidence, DeSalvo was never convicted of these murders, although he was incarcerated for other offenses. There were also quite a few inconsistencies in his testimonials.

In the final moments of the film, McLaughlin publishes an article proposing that while DeSalvo may have been responsible for some of the killings, other individuals may have been involved in the others. The film ends on an ambiguous note, leaving us to ponder on the true identity of the culprit(s).

Boston Strangler: Were Multiple People Behind the Murders?
Loretta McLaughlin | Source: IMDb

In other words, the real Boston Strangler could have been multiple people. The murders attributed to the Boston Strangler was not committed by one individual, but multiple killers.

I actually feel the film’s approach towards resolving the mystery makes a lot of sense, as even in reality, the murders committed by the Boston Strangler are believed to have been done by multiple people.

Was DeSalvo the Real Boston Strangler?

Albert DeSalvo confessed to have committed the 13 murders attributed to the Boston Strangler. However, he may not have been the only one behind the actual killings. He may have been behind some of the murders, but not all of them.

While Boston Strangler offers some closure to the case, the true identity of the killer remains a mystery. Real-life events are clearly not always as tidy as fiction portrays them. You’ll be surprised to know that the actual story behind the Boston Strangler is way more weird and uncertain than what we see in the film.  

Boston Strangler: Were Multiple People Behind the Murders?
Boston Strangler | Source: IMDb

The film highlights the obvious discrepancies in DeSalvo’s confession and the possibility of coercion during his confession. Furthermore, DeSalvo later retracted his confession altogether.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the Boston Strangler’s methods appear to have shifted midway through the killing spree. The initial victims were all elderly, whereas the later ones were unexpectedly young.

Furthermore, while the majority of the victims had stockings used to strangle them, some did not. Moreover, there were similar cases of murder in other states and cities.

For five decades, no concrete proof was available to connect any individual to the Boston Strangler killings. However, the film Boston Strangler concludes that in 2013, DNA testing finally confirmed DeSalvo’s involvement in the last murder attributed to the Boston Strangler, that of Mary Anne Sullivan.

Consequently, her case is now considered resolved, and DeSalvo, who died in 1973 (ironically through murder), is officially recognized as the perpetrator. Nevertheless, 12 cases remain unsolved, and the killer(s) of those victims remain at large.

Did the Boston Strangler Have Multiple Identities?

The film Boston Strangler suggests that the serial killer had multiple identities. The murders attributed to the Boston Strangler were not committed by one person.

This has been speculated since the early stages of the case even in reality and could very well be accurate.

The movie suggests that the initial murders of older, single women may have been committed by a single individual with a preference for targeting such women, while DeSalvo may have acted as a copycat killer, targeting young women.

In fact, DeSalvo followed a pattern that is very commonly found in serial killers – targeting young women. Let’s not remind ourselves of Ted Bundy now. But what I mean is this further proves that DeSalvo was not the only one behind the murders, especially since he had a very different target group.

Boston Strangler: Were Multiple People Behind the Murders?
Boston Strangler | Source: IMDb

Other murders attributed to the Boston Strangler could have been carried out by Daniel Marsh, one of DeSalvo’s cellmates who allegedly coached him during his confession.

Isolated murders could have been committed by former partners, family members, employers, or strangers seeking to emulate the Boston Strangler to make detection difficult.

Thus, the latest crime drama on Hulu addresses the discrepancies in DeSalvo’s account, the apparent shift in the killer’s modus operandi, and the fact that various suspects were incarcerated during some of the murders.

This hypothesis indicates that multiple killers were involved, with each perpetrator being aware of the distinctive silk stockings used to strangle the majority of the victims.

Irony aside, without McLaughlin’s articles, this key detail may have remained undiscovered. Although the identity of the true culprit or culprits will likely remain unknown, the final theory put forth by the Boston Strangler movie appears to carry the most weight.

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About Boston Strangler

Boston Strangler is a 2023 American historical crime drama film written and directed by Matt Ruskin. It is based on the true story of the Boston Strangler, who in the 1960s killed 15 women in Boston, Massachusetts.

The film stars Keira Knightley as Loretta McLaughlin, the reporter who broke the story for the Boston Record American. Carrie Coon, Alessandro Nivola, Chris Cooper, David Dastmalchian, and Morgan Spector co-star. Filming took place in the Boston area from December 2021 to March 2022.

The film was released on March 17, 2023, by Hulu.