George Nassar (born June 1932) is an
American murderer; Albert DeSalvo allegedly confessed to being the
Boston Strangler to Nassar in late 1965. Nassar contacted his lawyer
F. Lee Bailey and informed him of this confession, which led to
DeSalvo becoming the prime suspect in the unsolved Strangler murders.
Nassar was born in Providence, Rhode Island, the
oldest of two children of Henry Nassar and Helen (née George), both of
Assyrian/Syriac descent. Henry had come to America with his parents as
a child and worked at various mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts. He
would pass away there in 1955. Helen was born in Dover, New Hampshire
and worked as a bobbin setter in mills; a previous marriage (that
ended in 1931) to a man named Lawrence Otis, yielded one son named
after his father. Nassar has one sister named Eileen. Eileen and
George grew up in Lawrence, and were Catholics. George was involved in
sports, and was a Boy Scout. At school, his teachers found him
reserved, quiet, and a poor mixer.
George first ran afoul of the law while he was in
his sophomore year. In May 1948, he and two of his friends, Gennaro
Pullino and William Kenney went on a robbery spree that netted eighty
dollars. In one of the places they hit, shopowner Dominic Kirmil
lunged at the trio with a Coke bottle; Nassar pulled out a nickel-plated
revolver from his dark-colored trench coat and shot Kirmil four times.
The shopkeeper died three hours later, from the loss of blood. Several
witnesses described Nassar's distinct trench coat to the police.
On May 20, Nassar was picked up by Lawrence
patrolmen Charles Keenan and Walter Sliva after crashing a stolen car
on Route 2 in Ayer, Massachusetts. Initially charged with auto theft,
Nassar soon became a prominent suspect in the Kirmil murder. The
police found two thirty-eight-caliber bullets in his pocket, and the
nickel-plated revolver used in the murder in the wrecked car. Nassar
and his friends Pullino and Kenney were indicted and pleaded guilty to
a second degree murder charge. They were formally sentenced to life in
Nassar was sent to the prison MCI-Norfolk in
Norfolk, Massachusetts. Once there, Nassar formed a friendship with
Unitarian minister William Moors and joined the Prison's Debating
Society. Through the efforts of Moors, Nassar was paroled early in
1961. The Boston Strangler slayings would begin the following year.
On September 29, 1964, Nassar brutally murdered 44-year-old
Texaco station owner Irvin Hilton in full view of Rita Buote and her
14-year-old daughter Diane. As Buote pulled in to the station, Nassar
fired one shot into the kneeling Hilton, and three more after he
crumpled to the floor. Then he approached Buote's car, and tried to
get her to open up. Failing, he jumped into another car and drove off
toward North Andover. A truck driver, William King, wrote down the
plate number and called the police.
The getaway car was found later that evening on a
street in Andover next to Phillips Academy. The police soon learned
that the car had been stolen earlier that day from near the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. The car belonged
to a navy lieutenant who was attending MIT. A thirty-two-caliber
nickel-plated Harrington & Richardson revolver and a twenty-two
caliber Astra semi-automatic pistol were found underneath the front
seat of the car. Shells from the revolver were found at the crime
scene and matched the bullets found in Hilton.
An autopsy on Hilton revealed that he had been shot
six times at close range, and stabbed in the back. The police
theorized that the murderer had made Hilton beg for his life while
A description given by Rita and Diane Buote enabled
Andover police officer William Tammany to draw a composite of the
killer. On spotting the drawing, Nassar's former arresting officer
Keenan was struck by its familiarity. He went through his files and
came up with a photograph of Nassar, which the Buotes positively
identified as the man they saw shooting Hilton.
Nassar was found living in the Mattapan section of
Boston. The Andover, Lawrence, and state police contacted the Boston
police department, and got a warrant at Dorchester District Court to
search the suspect's car and his apartment on 51 Deering Road. When
the police arrived, they found Nassar with a social worker. A hunting
knife was also located and confiscated.
Nassar was subsequently arrested and sent to
Bridgewater to await his trial. He was said to have schizophrenic
tendencies and was put under observation when he met DeSalvo. On June
26, 1965, a jury found Nassar guilty of Hilton's murder, with no
recommendation for mercy. He received the death sentence, and was
placed on Death Row at Walpole State Prison pending appeal. On June 7,
1966, his sentence was stricken by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial
Court, and later changed to life imprisonment.
Nassar was being held in federal prison in
Leavenworth, Kansas, as recently as 2006. Nassar is currently at
Massachusetts Correctional Institution – Cedar Junction.
On February 16, 2008, Nassar's appeal was denied by
the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
Appeal denied for jailhouse confidant of reputed
Boston Strangler George Nassar convicted of Lawrence and Andover
By Jay Lindsey - EagleTribune.com
February 16, 2008
BOSTON — The state's highest court
yesterday denied an appeal in the 1967 murder conviction of George
Nassar, a remorseless killer who some believe is the real Boston
Nassar's appeal before the Supreme
Judicial Court came after his case lay dormant for more than 20 years.
During that time, Nassar was implicated by various people close to the
case as the real Boston Strangler, who killed 13 women between 1962
and early 1964.
He has denied he had anything to do
with the deaths, and his attorney, Claudia Bolgen, repeated the denial
Nassar, now 75, was 15 when he killed
a Lawrence store clerk in 1948. He was paroled in 1961, then charged
in October 1964 with shooting an Andover gas station attendant to
death as the man begged for mercy.
Nassar's case before the state's
highest court concerned a motion he filed to indicate an intention to
appeal the 1982 denial of a new trial in the second killing. But he
never acted, and the matter was dismissed in November 1983.
In 2006, Nassar, who is serving a
life sentence and is known for an extraordinarily high IQ, argued in
court filings that he couldn't make his case because he was in federal
prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, without access to Massachusetts legal
The court noted yesterday that Nassar
was back in Massachusetts in December 1983 and didn't inquire about
the case then or for more than two decades after.
Bolgen said she was disappointed in
the decision, but said Nassar had a pending motion for a new trial in
Essex County that she was confident would be granted.
The motion claims the judge gave
erroneous jury instructions, including one involving a witness photo
identification, and questions whether Nassar was advised of his right
to testify, Bolgen said.
Bolgen said she could not comment on
why there was such a gap in litigation in the case, but said Nassar is
innocent of the 1964 killing.
"We're hoping for justice, that's all
I can say, even after this late date," she said.
While in jail, Nassar befriended
Albert DeSalvo, who had been arrested for sexual assault in November
1964. The next year, Nassar told his attorney, F. Lee Bailey, that
DeSalvo, another client of Bailey's, was the Boston Strangler.
DeSalvo then confessed in remarkable
detail to Bailey, who told the story in court in hopes of convincing
the jury considering the sexual assault charges that DeSalvo was
insane. It didn't work, and DeSalvo was convicted and sentenced to
life in prison.
DeSalvo later recanted his confession
and was killed in prison in 1973. In 2001, forensic scientists
announced that DNA evidence taken from the body of the strangler's
final victim didn't match DeSalvo's.
Ames Robey, a former prison
psychologist who analyzed both DeSalvo and Nassar, has said Nassar was
a misogynistic, psychopathic killer who was a far more likely suspect
than DeSalvo. Some followers of the case said Nassar was the real
strangler and fed DeSalvo details of the murders so he could confess
and gain notoriety.
In a 1999 interview with The Boston
Globe, Nassar denied involvement in the strangler murders, but said
the speculation killed any chance he had for parole.
"I had nothing to do with it," he
said. "I'm convicted under the table, behind the scenes."
George Nassar (center) as he arrived
for his arraignment on charge of murdering Irvin Hilton, (Sept 29,
1964) in Andover Mass. At left is patrolman William F. Tammany, who
drew the sketch of the suspect, which led to his arrest.