The next time you listen to the Rolling Stones song ‘Midnight Rambler’ know that it was about Albert.

As Mick Jagger belts out, “I’m a-talkin’ ’bout the midnight rambler, everybody got to go. Well I’m a-talkin’ ‘bout the midnight gambler, the one you never seen before” I want you to think of this Lessons Learned.

Albert from Chelsea MA.

Albert had a wife and two kids. He also had anger issues. He learned some skills while in the military, but none that made him as much money as being a “hood.” Burglaries and stealing cars seemed much more lucrative than a steady Monday through Friday 9 to 5.

Remember, two kids to feed.

His crib was in Chelsea, only 15 minutes to Boston. All you had to do was cross the Mystic River. Chelsea is the smallest city in Massachusetts. A beautiful, quiet bedroom community, Chelsea’s heyday happened 245 years ago when revolutionary war general George Washington chose Chelsea for his base while his army fought the Siege of Boston.

His mother and father (Charlotte and Frank) battled like the network stars. Frank often beat Charlotte. Many times, in front of Albert. Police records note that Frank was a violent man and an alcoholic. He knocked Charlotte’s teeth out during one domestic. In another, he seated Albert in a kitchen chair and bent Charlotte’s fingers back until they broke. He made Albert watch as she screamed and writhed in pain.

Albert was a hood because it suited him. He had no parental supervision, no structure, no time to be home, or an alarm clock with which to wake up. Albert was a bedwetter and an animal abuser. He came to the attention of the cops early for torturing animals and shoplifting. These are high on the FBI’s list of traits to look out for in serial killers and sociopaths.

Albert’s upbringing may have fanned the flames of his violent future, but they didn’t create them. Albert was a victim of his genes.

Albert did learn one thing from Frank DeSalvo, he learned that a beat-down now and again kept people in line. At 12 years old, Albert was arrested for assault and battery. After he beat down a teenager on the street, Albert went through his pockets, taking everything of value. The police added a charge of robbery and the pre-teen Albert was sent to a youth detention facility.

After he was out, he stole a few cars and fled from the police whenever chased. After one such fleeing and eluding Albert was captured, charged, and sent back to the youth home.

Albert was paroled at 13 and he went to work delivering groceries as a condition of his parole. Being a delivery boy wasn’t much of occupation for Albert, so he continued to steal from people, swipe cars, and beat people up during street robberies. Local law always caught up to Albert. Soon he was old enough to go to real jail and the option of jail or the military was thrust upon him.

Albert joined the Army. It’s hard to data-mine his military record during that time. All that remains now is an entry about his re-enlistment, his MOS (Military MP Sergeant with an Armored Cav unit), and the fact that although he was court-martialed, he was still honorably discharged.

When Albert got out, he couldn’t go back to Chelsea. He wanted to have nothing to do with that lifestyle or his parents, so he moved to Malden MA, just 15 minutes away. Albert was never more than 15 minutes from Boston or Chelsea except for his time in the Army.  In the next two years, Albert Henry DeSalvo committed dozens of violent rapes and murdered 13 women. DeSalvo was a master at hiding in plain sight and Tactical Patience. He learned both skills growing up in Chelsea and later in the military.


23 November 1963.

On the day of John F. Kennedy’s funeral, Albert DeSalvo stalked. Knowing that folks would be glued to their televisions, Albert drove around until he located the apartment building where Joann Graff, a recent graduate of the Chicago Art Institute and respected Sunday School teacher lived.

Albert had picked her out weeks ago and conducted loose surveillance of her up until 22 November when posing as a handyman, he got a neighbor to confirm her apartment number.

Albert knocked on her door, again posing as a handyman. This soft entry technique worked for his. He was a charmer and well-rehearsed. As Joann turned her back to go and turn down the television set, Albert slipped in, then sexually assaulted and murdered her.

31 December 1962.

Revelers were out and about, trying to find a place to be to ring in the New Year.

Albert had already done a ‘recce’ (reconnaissance) on 23-year-old Patricia Bissette. Albert knocked on her apartment door before midnight. When Bissette answered, Albert asked her about the location of a party and charmed himself into the threshold holding the door open with his shoulder. At first Bissette thought it was funny, then, after Albert forced his way in and grabbed her face to silence her, Bissette must have known that the situation had changed gravely.

After failing to answer her phone or door, police forced entry and found the deceased young woman who had been sexually assaulted and strangled tucked tightly into her bed. The autopsy protocol discovered that Bissette had been pregnant when she was murdered. 

14 June 1962.

Albert staked out Anna Slesers. He knew that she lived alone. He planned his crime around her trips to church and the market. Albert the sometimes construction worker and sometimes thief knocked on her brick house apartment door and told Anna that he was there to repair items in the apartment. Slesers states that she didn’t have much time as she was working on some final project (Anna was a seamstress who did piece work) before her son picked her up for a church memorial service.

Albert forced her into the bathroom where he assaulted her, then strangled her with her own clothes. He posed the body and then tied a cord around her neck in a proper bow. Police were first informed that it was a likely suicide as Anna’s son found her in this manner.

When police arrived, they at first thought they came upon a botched robbery scene – items strewn about, Anna’s purse emptied – yet once they dug deeper, they began to find cash and jewelry that could have been taken but wasn’t.

Over the next few weeks police were investigating the murder of 85-year-old Mary Mullen, then 68-year-old Nina Nichols, then 65-year-old Helen Blake.

In each case there were no signs of forced entry, each woman had allowed her killer into her apartment.

In each case, the female decedents lived alone, were sexually assaulted then strangled with items of their own clothing. Each scene was subsequently set up to look like a burglary. This was incongruent with the evidence as all items of value were left behind. Each body was posed, with genitalia exposed, and the neck restraints were tied with a butterfly bow knot.

Failures in forensics.

Homicide investigations, forensic pathology, and related sciences rely on human interpretation. Humans can make mistakes. The murder investigation of Sophie Clark was such a mistake.

Sophie Clark was 21-years-old when she was raped and murdered. Even though the rape and murder occurred within sight of two of Albert’s other crimes, police didn’t connect them because Sophie Clark was black. After cross walking notes and well after Albert was captured, the similarities kept stymieing the investigators. After all, Clark was strangled with her own stockings and the butterfly bow tied around her neck seemed significant.

It wasn’t until a thorough canvas of Sophie Clark’s apartment building, literally door to door, that the connection emerged.

The day that Sophie Clark was murdered, one of her neighbors encountered a man who had knocked on her door and tried to gain entry to her apartment, stating that he was doing work on her apartment for the ‘Super’. The woman had made no such request and told the suspicious male that her husband was home and asleep in the next room. The man argued stating that he knew she lived alone, so the neighbor closed the door and threatened to call the police.

The suspicious man (now thought to be Albert) fled. But only a couple of floors away to Sophie Clarke’s apartment.

Upon close inspection, Albert’s PATTERN emerged in each of his murders.

He exhibited Tactical Patience, he used The Gift of Time and Patience. He conducted surveillance on multiple targets hiding in plain sight as a construction worker and handyman, isolating potential targets who lived alone.

After raping and strangling his victims, Albert would pose them with their legs spread and always with his characteristic butterfly bow signature move. Even when he had to stray from his routine, his pattern, MO Modus Operandi or method of operation – strong elements of his signature or profile shone strongly through.

08 May 1963.

Enter Beverly Samans. Police were called when 23-year-old Beverly missed choir practice. After failing to answer her phone or repeated knocks at the door, police had the superintendent let them into Beverly’s apartment. Once inside they found Beverly had been sexually assaulted and murdered.

The difference was that Beverly had been stabbed 26 times. Rather than death by manual strangulation, which had been attempted repeatedly, the 4 stab wounds to Beverly’s neck were the proximate cause of her death.

This was significant. Also significant was the fact that more restraints had been used and clothing had been first jammed into Beverly’s mouth then secured with more clothing. While significant and demonstrative that (1) Beverly was hard to kill and (2) had likely screamed and fought back, what was more significant was that these were new to Albert’s portfolio but certainly not INCONGRUENT with his overall theme. Rape, strangulation, posing of the body, and the signature butterfly knot.

Albert DeSalvo’s brother, a former FBI profiler, and others including an author have spent a lot of time and money trying to exonerate Albert. Claiming that Albert DeSalvo was a patsy. Remember this, once he was captured and his photo published, many victims came forward and positively identified Albert as that man who had raped them.

A former Brockton Police Chief chased Albert DeSalvo from his home after DeSalvo had tried to gain entry to the home telling the Chief’s wife that he (Albert) had car trouble nearby. The Chief positively identified DeSalvo but was unable to catch him on foot.    

People say that Albert was never charged or convicted with even one of the thirteen murders of which he is suspected. That’s because he didn’t need to be. Assistant Attorney General John Bottomly faced off with Albert’s famous attorney F. Lee Bailey and carved out a plea bargain intended to make sure Albert’s jail time was ensured even if Bailey attempted and received an insanity plea motion. Further, Bottomly’s plea was seen as lucrative to F. Lee Bailey because although it was a life sentence without parole, Albert wouldn’t get the death penalty. 

It’s also important to note that Albert confessed a number of ties, to police, to Assistant Attorney General John Bottomly, to his fellow inmate George Nassar – all without ever having the plea agreement so there was no pressure for him to do so.

People will tell you that Albert recanted his confession. That’s true – but only after Albert was captured after escaping for three days. A condition of his capture was that he would return to the same prison. Instead, he was charged and convicted of the escape and sent to Walpole – a Maximum Security prison – this infuriated Albert who then recanted his multiple confessions. Albert was incentivized to do so as he was now in ‘Genpop’ general population and available to other gangster criminals.

It is much more likely especially with the DNA evidence findings and after the fact that on 25 November 1973 Albert was found stabbed to death in prison. Exactly the fate he wished to avoid by recanting his confessions. Not because he was ‘not guilty’ but because he had been selling amphetamines in prison against the wishes of criminal gangs and for a greatly deflated price, causing the prison gangs to lose money.  

I fully understand that Albert’s brother Richard DeSalvo wants to believe his brother is not guilty and I would add that you can find anyone to agree with you – as long as you are footing the bill. To say that DeSalvo made some mistakes in his confession is ridiculous. Other than the police the only person that knew certain unpublished, uncirculated facts of each rape, homicide, and the crime scene was Albert DeSalvo.

So What?

Never put a round peg into a square hole. Never rush to an unreasonable conclusion. In 2013, DNA was used to match Albert ‘The Boston Strangler’ DeSalvo to his final victim, 19-year-old Mary Sullivan of Charles Street in Boston. This DNA match excludes 99.9% of the population. Hopefully, this will forever the conspiracy theorists.

When Albert DeSalvo – known as the Boston Strangler – was arrested, he was wearing the Dress Blue uniform of a U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class. Although Albert had been honorably discharged from the Army, was his re-enlistment to the Army, or had he switched branches to the Navy?

This is significant in my investigation as the Butterfly Bow or Butterfly Knot is a knot that Naval personnel are required to master. It is published in every US Navy guidebook. It’s a knot that is commonly used to make a fixed loop on a bight, not often found at crime scenes – it takes time to master. The kind of time that Albert took with his victims.


If you’ve ever read one of my previous Lessons Learned or attended one of our ‘in-person’ courses, you’ll know that I often repeat the phrase that YOU are largely responsible for your own personal safety.

Every one of Albert’s victims was allowed entry. All Albert used was a ruse. That means that all of the previous security measures failed. Albert was ‘buzzed’ into the lobby. Albert was allowed time to recon his potential targets without Albert being contacted by a neighbor or building super.

Albert was never questioned by his wife during long periods of unemployment where he was going and what he was doing.

The victims never asked Albert to wait so that they could confirm his story from safety – behind a locked door watching him through the peephole.

Anyone of these options would have unraveled Albert’s plans and either led to his discovery or at least the mitigation of a specific homicide.

Training teaches you how to spot a ruse, deal with a suspicious person, and avoid dangerous situations Left-of-Bang, well before the situation comes down to fate or luck. Attend just one in-person or on-line session and you’ll see.

Training changes behavior.

  • Greg

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