Cover image of Stranglers
(1875)
Society & Culture

Stranglers

Updated 1 day ago

Society & Culture
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From June, 1962 through January, 1964, women in the city of Boston lived in fear of the infamous Strangler. Over those 19 months, he committed 13 known murders-crimes that included vicious sexual assaults and bizarre stagings of the victims' bodies. After the largest police investigation in Massachusetts history, handyman Albert DeSalvo confessed and went to prison. Despite DeSalvo's full confession and imprisonment, authorities would never put him on trial for the actual murders. And more than 50 years later, significant doubts continue to surround the case. Was DeSalvo really the killer? Was there more than one Strangler? And did the Boston PD and the FBI do everything necessary to find and stop the murderer? Stranglers, an original 12-part weekly documentary podcast from Stitcher and Northern Light Productions, is a fascinating, contemporary audio investigation of the Boston Strangler story. Using never-before-heard voices, interviews with actual suspects, extensive original research and new conversations with the victims' family members, host Portland Helmich will introduce you to every facet of the case, from the reporters who originally covered it to the police who worked furiously to solve it, as well as terrified witnesses who claim to have met the Strangler himself.

Read more

From June, 1962 through January, 1964, women in the city of Boston lived in fear of the infamous Strangler. Over those 19 months, he committed 13 known murders-crimes that included vicious sexual assaults and bizarre stagings of the victims' bodies. After the largest police investigation in Massachusetts history, handyman Albert DeSalvo confessed and went to prison. Despite DeSalvo's full confession and imprisonment, authorities would never put him on trial for the actual murders. And more than 50 years later, significant doubts continue to surround the case. Was DeSalvo really the killer? Was there more than one Strangler? And did the Boston PD and the FBI do everything necessary to find and stop the murderer? Stranglers, an original 12-part weekly documentary podcast from Stitcher and Northern Light Productions, is a fascinating, contemporary audio investigation of the Boston Strangler story. Using never-before-heard voices, interviews with actual suspects, extensive original research and new conversations with the victims' family members, host Portland Helmich will introduce you to every facet of the case, from the reporters who originally covered it to the police who worked furiously to solve it, as well as terrified witnesses who claim to have met the Strangler himself.

iTunes Ratings

1875 Ratings
Average Ratings
1620
156
37
37
25

Comprehensive

By Luke9 - Aug 24 2019
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Well researched and presented in a professional, even-handed manner.

Amazing

By tate.serg - Jun 05 2019
Read more
So interesting and well done. ❤️ love love love it!! Can’t wait for more I hope fingers crossed 🤞

iTunes Ratings

1875 Ratings
Average Ratings
1620
156
37
37
25

Comprehensive

By Luke9 - Aug 24 2019
Read more
Well researched and presented in a professional, even-handed manner.

Amazing

By tate.serg - Jun 05 2019
Read more
So interesting and well done. ❤️ love love love it!! Can’t wait for more I hope fingers crossed 🤞

Listen to:

Cover image of Stranglers

Stranglers

Updated 1 day ago

Read more

From June, 1962 through January, 1964, women in the city of Boston lived in fear of the infamous Strangler. Over those 19 months, he committed 13 known murders-crimes that included vicious sexual assaults and bizarre stagings of the victims' bodies. After the largest police investigation in Massachusetts history, handyman Albert DeSalvo confessed and went to prison. Despite DeSalvo's full confession and imprisonment, authorities would never put him on trial for the actual murders. And more than 50 years later, significant doubts continue to surround the case. Was DeSalvo really the killer? Was there more than one Strangler? And did the Boston PD and the FBI do everything necessary to find and stop the murderer? Stranglers, an original 12-part weekly documentary podcast from Stitcher and Northern Light Productions, is a fascinating, contemporary audio investigation of the Boston Strangler story. Using never-before-heard voices, interviews with actual suspects, extensive original research and new conversations with the victims' family members, host Portland Helmich will introduce you to every facet of the case, from the reporters who originally covered it to the police who worked furiously to solve it, as well as terrified witnesses who claim to have met the Strangler himself.

Episode 3: Dead Ends and Copycats

Podcast cover
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Three months with no new deaths: investigators were beginning to believe that the Boston Strangler’s killing spree had ended. Then, on December 5, 1962, a roommate found the body of 20 year old Sophie Clark, and the case took a terrifying new turn. Had the killer changed his M.O.? Were two or more Boston Stranglers at large? Host Portland Helmich digs into the details surrounding Clark’s murder, and learns much more about the obsessive patterns serial killers usually follow. She also talks to Jane Caputi, an expert who studies the ways in which society turns some serial killers into outlaw heroes.

This episode is brought to you by Blue Apron and First Day Back.

Nov 30 2016

31mins

Play

Episode 4: Abnormal Psychology

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On December 29, 1962, twenty-three-year old Patricia Bissette was found strangled in her Boston apartment. She was second young victim, and the seventh overall attributed to The Boston Strangler. But there were some who weren't so sure Bissette was a victim of THE Strangler. There was legitimate suspicion that Bissette’s boss—a married man with a motive for keeping his affair with Bissette quiet—had killed her. In this episode, host Portland Helmich reveals how one significant detail, Bissette’s address, might have helped police find the real killer in 1962. We’ll hear more about the tragic consequences of this missed opportunity, and we’ll meet Adele Roof, who believes that she befriended the Boston Strangler in 1962—and almost became one of his victims.

Dec 07 2016

42mins

Play

Episode 5: Gotham Strangler

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Two more murders in Boston bring the total to 7. The Strangler continues to elude investigators through the winter and spring of 1963. Then, in June, New York police find the body of sixty-two-year-old Zenovia Clegg in a Times Square hotel. She had been strangled, using a scarf tied in the Strangler’s signature bow. The NYPD quickly catches Clegg’s killer, a drifter from Maine named Charles Terry, and one legendary detective there, Tom Cavanagh, begins to suspect that he has arrested the real Boston Strangler. But the Boston PD doesn't seem to care. Host Portland Helmich traces Cavanagh’s life-long pursuit of evidence supporting his theory, and reveals the surprising details of Charles Terry’s life that seem to confirm his guilt.

Dec 14 2016

41mins

Play

Episode 7: Bridgewater

Podcast cover
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By November, 1964, detective Phil DiNatale was closing in on a prime suspect, Albert DeSalvo, who had a long record of sexual assaults. DeSalvo was already in custody, in fact, at Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he was undergoing psychiatric evaluation. But while the police were gathering evidence, DeSalvo was confessing to a fellow inmate, George Nassar, that HE was the Boston Strangler. In this episode, host Portland Helmich visits George Nassar in prison to learn more about DeSalvo’s confession. She also meets DeSalvo’s attorney, F. Lee Bailey, who rose to prominence in his defense of DeSalvo, and who changed the course of the Boston Strangler investigation by getting to Bridgewater and DeSalvo one day ahead of the police.

Jan 11 2017

43mins

Play

Episode 6: Measuring Man

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In 1963 and 1964, several more Strangler murders drive the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts to take extraordinary measures. Attorney General Edward Brooke creates a special task force to coordinate police work across the state, but the killer continues to elude his pursuers. Desperate, the police even fly in a psychic. One dogged investigator, detective Phil DiNatale, finds a clue that he believes will lead him to the Strangler. His lead: the mysterious “measuring man,” who approaches women at home and attempts to convince them they have a future in modeling. Host Portland Helmich meets Carole, who reveals the chilling details of her encounters with the “measuring man.” Detective DiNatale, sensing he might have found the killer, gets down to the hard work of gumshoe policing in order to prove his case.

Dec 21 2016

42mins

Play

Introducing The Dream

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Check out The Dream, the hit podcast that exposed the world of multi-level marketing schemes. This season they’re tackling the wellness industry: healing crystals, detox juices, and everything in between that claim to bring us eternal happiness and health. But how much of these products is based in truth and science? Who gets rich and who loses? The Dream is out NOW - listen in your favorite podcast app. 

Dec 09 2019

9mins

Play

Episode 12: Memorial

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55 years after the Boston Strangler murders first began, and despite decades of investigation, the search for answers continues. Although we may never know the truth about what happened to these women, we can draw some conclusions about the likely killers, and we can reach a new understanding about how crimes like this occur. In our final episode, Adele Roof, once nearly a victim herself, joins host Portland Helmich on a touching, thought-provoking journey back to Boston.

Feb 15 2017

51mins

Play

Episode 11: Digging Up the Past

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Doubts and confusion about the identity of the Boston Strangler didn’t end with the death of lead suspect Albert DeSalvo. In fact, a small but determined group of family members and journalists continued to investigate the many unresolved questions surrounding the case--including the chilling possibility that some stranglers continued to live freely. In this episode, host Portland Helmich talks to Casey Sherman, nephew of victim Mary Sullivan (profiled in Episode 1) about his unlikely effort to exonerate DeSalvo. We learn about the existence of new forensic evidence, and about the strange, post-Strangler career of another major suspect: he moved to Michigan, and—perhaps coincidentally—a new series of murders began.

Feb 08 2017

51mins

Play

Episode 10: Fame and Consequences

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Boston is gripped by fear once again after Albert DeSalvo escapes from Bridgewater State Hospital. But imprisonment never stops the man most people believed to be the Boston Strangler from communicating with—and attempting to manipulate—those outside. In this episode, we get an exclusive glimpse of DeSalvo’s extensive correspondence with his pursuer, Detective Phil DiNatale. DeSalvo never left prison again, but host Portland Helmich follows Phil DiNatale to Hollywood, where he became an official advisor and major character in the very successful 1968 film, The Boston Strangler. While the movie solidified many of the publicly accepted myths about the stranglings, DeSalvo’s mysterious death in prison only adds to the confusion surrounding the Strangler’s identity.

Feb 01 2017

43mins

Play

Episode 9: Testimony

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Albert Desalvo said he committed all the Strangler murders, but he would never be tried for those crimes. Instead, he would stand trial for his crimes as the Green Man. DeSalvo’s wily lawyer, F. Lee Bailey, used DeSalvo’s violent history and his reputation as the Boston Strangler to assert that his client was not guilty by reason of legal insanity. In this episode, we’ll follow the prosecution and defense as they attempt to sway the jury, and we'll hear chilling trial excerpts. We’ll also learn how one popular '50s television sitcom may have given Albert DeSalvo the rationale he needed to invade the homes of hundreds—perhaps thousands—of women.

Jan 25 2017

49mins

Play

Episode 8: Confessions

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In 1965, a series of swift maneuvers by Albert DeSalvo’s attorney, F. Lee Bailey, blocked investigators from closing in on their prime Strangler suspect. DeSalvo was more than ready to talk: he had given investigators nearly 60 hours of recorded confessions. But before fully understanding the crimes DeSalvo had committed, the State of Massachusetts agreed that DeSalvo’s testimony about the murders couldn’t be used against him in court. Bailey leads host Portland Helmich through his legal maneuvers as he battles to keep DeSalvo out of the electric chair. We also hear chilling details about the Strangler murders in excerpts from DeSalvo’s recorded confessions. Despite DeSalvo’s astonishing recall of the 13 stranglings, he gets the most important detail wrong. Could he in fact be lying?

Jan 18 2017

49mins

Play

Episode 7: Bridgewater

Podcast cover
Read more
By November, 1964, detective Phil DiNatale was closing in on a prime suspect, Albert DeSalvo, who had a long record of sexual assaults. DeSalvo was already in custody, in fact, at Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where he was undergoing psychiatric evaluation. But while the police were gathering evidence, DeSalvo was confessing to a fellow inmate, George Nassar, that HE was the Boston Strangler. In this episode, host Portland Helmich visits George Nassar in prison to learn more about DeSalvo’s confession. She also meets DeSalvo’s attorney, F. Lee Bailey, who rose to prominence in his defense of DeSalvo, and who changed the course of the Boston Strangler investigation by getting to Bridgewater and DeSalvo one day ahead of the police.

Jan 11 2017

43mins

Play

Mid-Season Preview

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With 2016 behind us, we want to take a quick minute to thank you all for supporting this podcast. The Atlantic listed us at #7 in their top 50 podcasts of 2016, and we were first in GQ Magazine’s list of the 7 best new podcasts to check out. We’re very proud of the recognition and very grateful to all of you for listening, for subscribing, for telling your friends about Stranglers, and for all your comments online (even the criticisms...we read those too!). On behalf of the Stranglers production team, I want to wish you all a very happy new year & let you know that next week, Stranglers returns with the 2nd half of our season. Another week might feel like a long time to wait, so give a listen to this sneak peek of what’s in store…

Jan 04 2017

4mins

Play

Episode 6: Measuring Man

Podcast cover
Read more
In 1963 and 1964, several more Strangler murders drive the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts to take extraordinary measures. Attorney General Edward Brooke creates a special task force to coordinate police work across the state, but the killer continues to elude his pursuers. Desperate, the police even fly in a psychic. One dogged investigator, detective Phil DiNatale, finds a clue that he believes will lead him to the Strangler. His lead: the mysterious “measuring man,” who approaches women at home and attempts to convince them they have a future in modeling. Host Portland Helmich meets Carole, who reveals the chilling details of her encounters with the “measuring man.” Detective DiNatale, sensing he might have found the killer, gets down to the hard work of gumshoe policing in order to prove his case.

Dec 21 2016

42mins

Play

Episode 5: Gotham Strangler

Podcast cover
Read more
Two more murders in Boston bring the total to 7. The Strangler continues to elude investigators through the winter and spring of 1963. Then, in June, New York police find the body of sixty-two-year-old Zenovia Clegg in a Times Square hotel. She had been strangled, using a scarf tied in the Strangler’s signature bow. The NYPD quickly catches Clegg’s killer, a drifter from Maine named Charles Terry, and one legendary detective there, Tom Cavanagh, begins to suspect that he has arrested the real Boston Strangler. But the Boston PD doesn't seem to care. Host Portland Helmich traces Cavanagh’s life-long pursuit of evidence supporting his theory, and reveals the surprising details of Charles Terry’s life that seem to confirm his guilt.

Dec 14 2016

41mins

Play

Episode 4: Abnormal Psychology

Podcast cover
Read more
On December 29, 1962, twenty-three-year old Patricia Bissette was found strangled in her Boston apartment. She was second young victim, and the seventh overall attributed to The Boston Strangler. But there were some who weren't so sure Bissette was a victim of THE Strangler. There was legitimate suspicion that Bissette’s boss—a married man with a motive for keeping his affair with Bissette quiet—had killed her. In this episode, host Portland Helmich reveals how one significant detail, Bissette’s address, might have helped police find the real killer in 1962. We’ll hear more about the tragic consequences of this missed opportunity, and we’ll meet Adele Roof, who believes that she befriended the Boston Strangler in 1962—and almost became one of his victims.

Dec 07 2016

42mins

Play

Episode 3: Dead Ends and Copycats

Podcast cover
Read more
Three months with no new deaths: investigators were beginning to believe that the Boston Strangler’s killing spree had ended. Then, on December 5, 1962, a roommate found the body of 20 year old Sophie Clark, and the case took a terrifying new turn. Had the killer changed his M.O.? Were two or more Boston Stranglers at large? Host Portland Helmich digs into the details surrounding Clark’s murder, and learns much more about the obsessive patterns serial killers usually follow. She also talks to Jane Caputi, an expert who studies the ways in which society turns some serial killers into outlaw heroes.

This episode is brought to you by Blue Apron and First Day Back.

Nov 30 2016

31mins

Play

Episode 2: Fear in Boston

Podcast cover
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Two more murders bring the total to five, terrorizing the city. As the police come up short in their attempt to protect the city, women take desperate measures to protect themselves. In this episode, host Portland Helmich meets a granddaughter of the Strangler’s fourth victim, and she follows the Boston police as they launch and attempt to control one of the largest manhunts the city had ever known. We’ll hear the voice of the late detective Phil DiNatale, meet his son, John, and explore the family’s vast archive of original Strangler notes, photos and diaries. Portland also interviews Mark Safarik, a retired FBI agent, who specializes in the homicides of elderly women. Safarik explains that with an unprecedented crime, traditional crime-solving techniques are almost never effective.

This episode is brought to you by Blue Apron.

Nov 23 2016

42mins

Play

Episode 1: Sisters in Death

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In 1964, 19-year-old Mary Sullivan was strangled to death in her apartment, the 13th victim of a killing spree that had terrorized Boston for 18 months. Her death remained unsolved for nearly 50 years. The same is true for a dozen more deaths attributed to the Boston Strangler. In our first episode, we meet Mary, as well as the killer’s first victims, and begin to explore the many unanswered questions that continue to haunt the victims’ families, the police who worked on the case, and the reporters who turned it into a national story.

Nov 16 2016

39mins

Play