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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Death in Belmont

A true crime story is up close and personal for author Sebastian Junger as he chronicles the Boston Strangler serial murders that took place during the early 1960s. Before the advent of DNA evidence, some individuals were tried and convicted on the basis of circumstantial evidence. This is what happened to Roy Smith, a black man and ex-convict who was working as a housecleaner in Bessie Goldberg's home the day she was sexually assaulted and murdered, the thirteenth victim in the Boston area.

At the same time, a few blocks away, Albert DeSalvo was working as a hired helper on a home construction job for one-year-old Sebastian Junger's parents. The work was completed without incident, although Sebastian's mother had a premonition about DeSalvo possibly causing her harm.

Roy Smith spends several years in jail for the murder he says he did not commit; Albert DeSalvo eventually confesses to all of the Boston Strangler murders except for that of Bessie Goldberg. Was DeSalvo really the Boston Strangler or just someone looking for fame? Was Smith a victim of racial prejudice or was he a murderer? Junger tries to examine both men fairly as to their guilt or innocence, but in the end there still are unanswered questions.

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