‘Silk Stocking Murders’ of 13 women slain by Boston Strangler explored in film

A Disney+ film about the Boston Strangler hits screens this week, starring Keira Knightley as the journalist who broke the story.The true-crime thriller explores how sexism in the 1960s put Loretta McLaughlin at risk of being attacked herself for joining the dots in the case and putting her findings into print.

Here KIM CARR looks at the case at the heart of the story plus other notorious stranglers.

Boston Strangler

Also called the Silk Stocking Murders, in the early 1960s 13 single women between the ages of 19 and 85 were murdered at home in Boston, US, with an item of clothing used to strangle them after they had been sexually assaulted.

The culprit had a knack for getting these women to open their doors and let him inside, so it was presumed that they knew him or he had posed as a maintenance or delivery man.

Albert DeSalvo, who tortured animals as a child and served in the US Army, confessed to the murders.

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But while DeSalvo was given a life sentence for assault and armed robbery, he was never convicted of the killings.

In 1973 he was stabbed to death by gang member Robert Wilson in a row over selling drugs to inmates at Walpole maximum security prison in Massachusetts.

Panama Strangler

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Panama's first serial killer Silvano Ward Brown stabbed 18-year-old Paula Caballero to death in 1959 after breaking into her home.

Despite warnings he would kill again, after 12 years in prison he was released in 1969.

Four years later he got into a row with prostitute Dalila Gaitán Troya, 22, asking for a refund due to his impotence.

He strangled her to death using his hands and her jumper before dumping her body on a road.

Eight days later he strangled sex worker Rose María Gómez Orlas, 23, after she mocked his performance.

He was jailed for 20 years but the 81-year-old now works as a security guard after being released.

Stockwell Strangler

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As a child London-born Kenneth Erskine showed signs of being a psychopath, attempting to drown classmates on school trips.

In 1986 he strangled a string of elderly men and women in south London, often sexually assaulting and stealing from his victims.

His signature was to tuck the bodies up in bed with the sheets pulled up to their chins.

Erksine was caught when his fingerprints were matched to those at the scenes and he was convicted of seven murders, including that of 78-year-old Nancy Emms and 84-year-old William Carmen.

Given a life sentence, Erskine, 59, currently resides in Broadmoor Hospital after being diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia and anti-social personality disorder.

In 1996 he stepped in to save Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe who was being strangled with headphone cables by robber Paul Wilson.

Strangler of Tacuba

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Four women were slain by Gregorio Cárdenas Hernández in the Tacuba neighbourhood of Mexico City.

Suffering an encephalitis infection as a child, he showed abnormal behaviour including cruelty to animals, and struggled with bed wetting.

In August 1942 he had sex with prostitute María de los Ángeles González, 16, before strangling her and burying her body in his garden.

Over the next few weeks he also murdered sex workers Rosa Reyes and Raquel Martínez de León, both 16, plus 19-year-old chemistry student Graciela Arias Ávalos.

He was arrested after neighbours became suspicious and was jailed for life.

His crimes made him a celebrity and he married in prison, going on to have four children.

Hernández died in 1999.

Suffolk Strangler

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Former Royal Navy chef and pub manager Steve Wright murdered five prostitutes in 2006 in Ipswich.

A gambler and drinker who went bankrupt and ran up debts, he was a regular visitor to local sex workers who dubbed him “Mondeo Man” and “Silver-Backed Gorilla”.

He denied killing Gemma Adams, 25, Tania Nicol, 19, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29, but was nailed by traces of his DNA on the victims’ bodies.

Wright, 65, has also been linked to other murders but not convicted. He is serving life at HM Prison Long Lartin, Worcs.

Sunderland Strangler

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Taking the lives of Thomas Kelly, 18, David Hanson, 15, and David Grieff, 15, between 1990 and 1994, Steven John Grieveson was given three life sentences and later convicted of a fourth murder – 14-year-old Simon Martin in 1990.

Grieveson claimed he strangled the youngsters, who had all attended Sunderland’s Monkwearmouth Academy, to hide his homosexuality.

It’s believed the victims all knew the killer through a school connection.

Grieveson, 52, is behind bars at Full Sutton maximum-security prison in Yorkshire.

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