The ending of the Boston Strangler is far from conclusive, and might leave you with more questions than resolutions about the actual events that served as its inspiration.
The film focuses on two female reporters who first exposed the story of an unknown perpetrator who was after murdering solitary older women in Boston during the 1960s. As the killings continued, some deviating from the killer’s initial pattern, the case grew increasingly intricate. Eventually, Boston Strangler puts suggests that multiple killers were involved in the crimes.
Boston Strangler revolves around Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightly) and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon), two reporters from the Boston Record American who are covering the true crime story.
While their coverage seems complete after Albert DeSalvo confesses to the murders, there are still inconsistencies in the case. However, before DeSalvo meets with Loretta, he is murdered in prison, leaving her to write a final article titled “Boston Stranglers” suggesting that DeSalvo wasn’t the sole perpetrator.
The movie ends with Loretta and Jean drinking in a bar, with Loretta looking contemplative, leaving the audience with unresolved questions to think about.
1. How Accurate Were the Boston Stranger Articles?
Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole are the two women who uncovered the story of the Boston Strangler and reported on it for the Record American newspaper.
McLaughlin is credited with coining the term “Boston Strangler,” which would go on to inspire the names of other serial killers in real life and in literature.
Many of the articles that the duo wrote, including Two Girl Reporters Analyze Strangler, were featured in Hulu’s Boston Strangler and were authentic. However, it appears that McLaughlin’s final article, Boston Stranglers, was fabricated to create a more dramatic conclusion.
Aside from Loretta McLaughlin and Jean Cole, other Record American journalists such as Eddie Corsetti also reported on the Boston Strangler cases. Cole also wrote some articles on her own.
Although McLaughlin departed from the newspaper in the 1960s, Cole remained and continued to cover the life of DeSalvo until at least 1967.
One of her articles, titled “Girls: Keep Doors Shut ‘Til DeSalvo Again in Custody”, written during DeSalvo’s brief prison escape, was not featured in the Boston Strangler movie.
2. Were the Michigan Murders Related to the Boston Stranger?
The Boston Strangler movie begins with a murder in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1965 before shifting back to Boston in 1962 to depict the true crime story.
Later in the film, the narrative returns to the Michigan murders, with Detective DeLine reaching out to Loretta to discuss a potential link to the Boston Strangler. It appears to refer to a string of homicides known as the Michigan Murders, which took place between 1967 and 1969.
While the Boston Strangler movie draws a parallel between the Michigan Murders and the Boston Strangler murders, there is no established link between the two.
Both cases share some similarities, such as the use of stockings to strangle certain victims, but the Michigan Murders were attributed to John Norman Collins, not the Boston Strangler.
The movie appears to utilize the Michigan Murders to underscore the unfortunate fact that similar crimes have occurred in the past and are likely to continue to happen in the future.
3. What Happens to George Nassar?
At the conclusion of Boston Strangler, it is indicated on-screen that George Nassar remains imprisoned in Massachusetts, having been found guilty of the murder of Dominic Kirmil in 1948.
In the movie, a neighbor of one of the victims identifies Nassar as a potential suspect rather than DeSalvo. However, it is acknowledged that Nassar was incarcerated at the time of the murders, effectively ruling him out as the Boston Strangler.
Nevertheless, in reality, Nassar was out on parole between 1961 and 1964, coinciding with some of the murders.
During the period when Nassar was not incarcerated, he committed the murder of Irvin Hilton, who was the owner of a Texaco station, in 1964. It was following this incident that Nassar and DeSalvo ended up in prison together.
Subsequently, in 1967, Nassar was given a life sentence and is currently detained at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution-Shirley. Although he has made multiple attempts to obtain a new trial, all of his appeals have been rejected.
At present, Nassar is one of the few remaining individuals who were involved with the Boston Strangler murders and is 90 years old.
4. Was the Boston Strangler Caught?
The Boston Strangler case remains unsolved and has various theories. Although Albert DeSalvo admitted to the murders, his confession was questioned due to discrepancies.
The film suggests that he might have been prompted by George Nassar and Daniel Marsh. Marsh is one of the key suspects featured in the movie, but there were many others.
The ending of Boston Strangler indicates that the murders could have been the work of multiple killers. Nevertheless, no one was convicted for the murders, and no significant suspects have emerged since the 1960s.
However, DeSalvo was finally linked to the murder of Mary Anne Sullivan through DNA evidence in 2013.
5. The Unresolved Mysteries of the Boston Strangler
The murder of Mary Anne Sullivan is the only one officially linked to Albert DeSalvo thanks to the DNA evidence. However, the other 12 murders attributed to the Boston Strangler remain unsolved cases.
There is a possibility that DeSalvo committed some of them, but there is no definitive evidence. DeSalvo himself was killed in prison in 1973, so the truth may never be known.
The other victims of the Boston Strangler were Anna Slesers, Mary Mullen, Nina Nichols, Helen Blake, Ida Irga, Jane Sullivan, Sophie Clark, Patricia Bissette, Mary Ann Brown, Beverly Samans, Marie Corbin, and Joann Graff. Some other true crime cases were initially thought to be related to the Boston Strangler, but later proved to be unrelated.
The murder of DeSalvo remains a mystery as well, with no conclusive evidence pointing to who was responsible for his death. Boston Strangler implies that the actual Boston Strangler may have killed him, but this has never been confirmed.
Robert Wilson was tried for the murder, but the trial resulted in a hung jury. Nassar and DeSalvo’s lawyer F. Lee Bailey suggested that DeSalvo was killed over drug-related matters.
The ending of Boston Strangler features a quiet moment between McLaughlin and Cole, allowing them and the audience to reflect on the events depicted in the true crime movie.
The case had a profound impact on McLaughlin, who later reflected on why the murders intrigued her, stating, “Why should anyone murder four obscure women. That was what made them so interesting . . . sisters in anonymity, like all of us” (as cited by the Boston Globe).
Although the murders may never be fully solved, the Boston Strangler ending provides some closure by offering a perspective through the eyes of two reporters who were closely involved in the case.
6. 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.