DNA ties 11th killing to ‘Boston Strangler’

Almost 50 years after the “Boston Strangler” slayings of 11 women terrified the city, prosecutors on Thursday said new DNA evidence linked a man, who confessed to the killings but was never convicted, to the last of the homicides.

But even as they said the new evidence suggests that Albert DeSalvo — who confessed to the crimes while serving an unrelated prison sentence — killed 19-year-old Mary Sullivan, they warned that the full string of killings might never be solved.

The new probe is linked only to Sullivan’s death, not to the other 10 killings attributed to the Boston Strangler, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said.

The evidence came from DNA extracted from a water bottle that one of DeSalvo’s nephews had drunk from. It showed a strong family link to DNA recovered from where Sullivan was raped and killed in January 1964. A judge authorized investigators to exhume DeSalvo’s remains for DNA testing. Conley said the body would be exhumed this week.

DeSalvo was serving a prison sentence for armed robbery and sexual assault when he was stabbed to death by another inmate in 1973.

Eleven women were killed in the Boston area from 1962 through 1964 after being sexually assaulted in their homes. The assaults, which targeted unmarried women, terrified the city.

— Reuters

Impact of oil drilling on fault lines studied

The powerful earthquake that rocked Japan in 2011 set off tremors around a West Texas oil field, according to new research that suggests oil and gas drilling may make fault zones sensitive to shock waves from distant, big quakes.

It has long been known that large quakes can trigger minor jolts thousands of miles from the epicenter. Volcanically active spots like Yellowstone National Park often experience shaking after a large, distant event.

Less is known about the influence of remote quakes on fault lines that have been weakened by man-made activity like the deep disposal of wastewater at the Texas oil field. A new study led by researchers at Columbia University and published Friday in the journal Science suggests a strong quake that strikes halfway around the globe can set off small to midsize quakes near injection wells in the U.S. heartland.

The controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which uses high-pressure mixtures of water, sand and chemicals to extract natural gas or oil, also can trigger microquakes — smaller than magnitude 2.

— Associated Press

House approves revised abortion bill

The Republican-led North Carolina House voted 74-41 Thursday to approve new rules at abortion clinics. The bill directs state regulators to change standards for abortion clinics to bring them in line with more regulated outpatient surgical centers. It also requires doctors to be present for an entire surgical abortion and when a patient takes the first dose for a chemically induced abortion.

The bill was tweaked after Gov. Pat McCrory (R) threatened to veto a separate bill approved by the state senate last week. The governor said he supported more safety measures but was worried the bill would result in restricting a woman’s access to an abortion.

The updated measure now must return to the GOP-led Senate next week for approval.

— Associated Press