It took a half-century for DNA sleuthing to finger Albert DeSalvo as the Boston Strangler.
Now a new movie is revisiting one of America’s most notorious serial killer cases and the bizarre involvement of a man who claimed psychic powers to help police investigate.
“Stranglehold” will tell the story of the Boston Strangler Task Force — a special unit assembled by the Massachusetts attorney general’s office to capture the man behind nearly a dozen unsolved murders of women between 1962 and 1964.
Writer-director Barry L. Levy grew up hearing about the Strangler as a child in suburban Newton and Natick. A news article about Peter Hurkos, the enigmatic Dutch-born psychic who helped investigators search for clues, rekindled his interest.
“The Strangler was that story that, when you were a kid, everyone heard,” Levy said. “Ever since I knew I wanted to be a director, I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
It’s the latest in a series of film projects focusing on high-profile Boston crimes. Last year’s “Black Mass” told the story of notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger.
Mark Wahlberg’s “Patriots Day,” about the Boston Marathon bombings, opens Dec. 21 in Boston and nationwide in January; and a 2017 release is planned for “Stronger,” with Jake Gyllenhaal playing marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman.
DeSalvo, a factory worker imprisoned on unrelated charges, admitted to killing 11 women in the Boston area during that period, but he later recanted and was never charged with the murders.
In 1968 American neo-noir film based on the true story of the Boston Strangler was made. It was directed by Richard Fleischer, and stareed Tony Curtis as Albert DeSalvo, the strangler, and Henry Fonda as John S. Bottomly, the chief detective now famed for obtaining DeSalvo’s confession.