Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Boston Strangler

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Patricia Bisette
Patricia Bisette

Three weeks later 23-year-old Patricia Bissette, a secretary for a Boston engineering firm, was discovered on Monday, December 31, 1962, when her boss became worried about her. He went to her apartment that morning to pick her up for work, but she had not answered the door. When she never arrived at work, he went back to her apartment building at 515 Park Drive in the Back Bay area in which Anna Slesers and Sophie Clark had lived. Her apartment was locked, so her boss, with the help of the custodian, climbed through a window into the apartment.

They found her in face up in bed with the covers drawn up to her chin, looking like she was taking a nap. Underneath the covers, she lie there with several stockings knotted and interwoven with a blouse tied tightly around her neck. There was evidence of recent sexual intercourse and she was in an early stage of pregnancy. There had been some damage to her rectum.

The killer had searched her apartment.

Things were quiet for a couple of months. The police took the opportunity to backtrack and look for any clue that would link these people together. Any person that they may have all known or met; any place they may have all visited or shopped. Creeps, nuts and perverts were checked again, but with no significant results.

In early March of 1963, 25 miles north of Boston in Lawrence, sixty-eight-year-old Mary Brown was found beaten to death in her apartment. She had also been strangled and raped.

Beverly Samans, victim
Beverly Samans, victim

The murder scene moved back to Boston two months later. On Wednesday, May 8, 1963, Beverly Samans, a pretty 23-year-old graduate student missed choir practice at the Second Unitarian Church in Back Bay. Her friend went to her apartment and opened it with the key she had given to him.

The moment he opened the door, she lay directly in front of him on a sofa bed, her legs spread apart. Her hands had been tied behind her with one of her scarves. A nylon stocking and two handkerchiefs tied together were tied and knotted around her neck. Over her mouth a cloth had been placed. Under it, a second cloth had been stuffed into her mouth.

While it appeared that Beverly had been strangled, she had, in fact, been killed by the four stab wounds to her throat. She had sustained 22 stab wounds in all — 18 of which were in a bull's eye design on her left breast. The ligature around her neck was "decorative" and not tied tightly enough to strangle her. The bloody knife was found in her kitchen sink. She had not been raped by man or object, nor was there any spermatozoa present in her body. It was estimated that she had been dead approximately 48 to 72 hours and had probably been killed between late Sunday evening or Monday morning.

She was studying to be an opera singer and had planned to try out for the Met in New York that year. Police speculated that because of her singing she had developed very strong throat muscles that may have made strangulation more difficult and resulted in her stabbing.


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