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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
A Death in Belmont, Part II
Aired April 18, 2006 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Tonight we're looking at "Perfect Storm" Author Sebastian Junger's investigation of a single murder. In his new, and as you'll see deeply personal book, "A Death in Belmont," Junger asks whether the killer was really a black house cleaner or was he the Boston strangler?
COOPER (voice-over): The story begins in 1963. Sebastian Junger was barely a toddler then. John F. Kennedy was president. and race relations were at a boiling point in the country. Especially in Irish Catholic Boston. But Boston was also paralyzed by fear. The serial killer who came to be known as the Boston strangler was still at large and still killing women.
SEBASTIAN JUNGER, AUTHOR, "A DEATH IN BELMONT": There were ghastly murders, sexual murders. I mean, it really was a time of terror in Boston.
COOPER: On March 11, 1963 all these events would collide in the quiet Boston suburb of Belmont, when a man named Israel Goldberg came home from work to discover his wife Bessie dead. She'd been raped and strangled with her own stocking.
JUNGER: Bessie Goldberg was lying on her back with her skirt and apron pulled back and her legs exposed. One of her stockings had been wound around her neck and her eyes were open. And there was a little bit of blood on her lip. The first thought that went through Israel's Goldberg's mind was that he'd never seen his wife wearing a scarf before.
Her killing was so similar, virtually identical to many of the other Boston stranglings, that the press and the police immediately assumed it was the Boston strangler.
COOPER: But this time police had a suspect. When Bessie Goldberg's 24-year-old daughter Leah arrived at the house, she found something police had missed, a note from an employment agency.
LEAH GOLDBERG, BESSIE GOLDBERG'S DAUGHTER: That slip of paper had the name of the agency, and it had the name of the person who they had sent. And that the name of the person was Roy Smith.
COOPER: Roy Smith was sent to clean the Goldbergs' house that day. He would be the first and only suspect. A few hours after the murder at her home a mile away, Sebastian Junger's mother got a call with the news. She immediately went to tell her handyman, Al. ELLEN JUNGER, SEBASTIAN JUNGER'S MOTHER: I put the phone down, and I went out to the studio and Al was up on the ladder. And I said, Al, something so horrible. He said, what?
S. JUNGER: She said to Al, Al, you won't believe it. The Boston strangler just killed someone in Belmont, just across town. I can't believe it. It's so terrible.
COOPER: In an almost unbelievable turn of events, the Jungers would learn, to their horror, that Al, the handyman was Albert DeSalvo, who two years later confessed to being the Boston strangler.
S. JUNGER: He essentially said to the authorities, you got me on rape, but you have no idea the things I've done. I'm the Boston strangler, I killed 13 women, and I want to make a confession with a tape recorder about these crimes.
COOPER: During 50 hours of confessions no one ever mentioned the name Bessie Goldberg.
F. LEE BAILEY, ALBERT DESALVO'S ATTORNEY: I never asked the name. I never heard of Bessie Goldberg at the time. The police never asked him about it in 50 hours of interrogation. And the panic to convict somebody probably sent Roy Smith directly to prison.
COOPER (on camera): Albert DeSalvo's marathon of detailed confessions of how he strangled 13 women, and Roy Smith's unwavering claim of innocence in the rape and strangling of another murder victim could well be nothing more than coincidence; or Smith could, in fact, have been the killer. After all, with eight murders by then, the Boston strangler had provided a grisly how-to guide for copycats.
But 40 years later when Sebastian Junger was drawn back to the case, he concluded that the truth about whatever happened at the Goldbergs' house that day is, at best, unsettling.
S. JUNGER: DeSalvo had an odd fascination with Roy Smith. He knew that Roy Smith had failed a lie detector test -- portions of a lie detector test. He knew which questions he had answered wrong. DeSalvo knew in a different prison that Roy Smith had gotten certain questions wrong on his test.
COOPER (voice-over): As you'll see, though DeSalvo seemed to enjoy his ghastly fame, for some reason he followed every turn in Roy Smith's case, right down to the questions he got wrong on his lie detector test. Though the operator couldn't get a good reading, so it was ultimately ruled inconclusive. And as it turns out, in prison, Roy Smith was thriving.
S. JUNGER: He started studying, and he study the American history, he studied literature, he studied science. And he basically educated himself up to almost a college level. Now, this is a guy who left school at 14.
GEORGE BOHLINGER, FORMER SUPERINTENDENT, NORFOLK PRISON: Roy did his own time. Roy was someone who did what he was asked to do, and didn't ask for special favors. He blended in.
COOPER: All the while, Roy Smith maintained his innocence and began lobbying for a commutation of his sentence based on good behavior.
BOHLINGER: Roy is one of the very, very few people that I have come across in my time in corrections that I felt did not do the crime. And not only that, but other inmates who are really the best source of information in this, didn't feel Roy had done it.
COOPER: This man, Steve Delaney, was an investigator with the strangler bureau. At one point, after Roy Smith had been convicted of Bessie Goldberg's murder, he says the State Attorney General Ed Brooke, asked him to review the Bessie Goldberg file. Were they wrong? Could the strangler have killed her?
STEPHEN DELANEY, THE STRANGLER BUREAU: When the attorney general came back, he said, are you finished? What do you think? I said, it fits the pattern. And I'll never forget it. He said, I'm sorry to hear that because I've been ordered by the chief justice in Massachusetts to return the file to the district attorney.
COOPER: Delaney says the district attorney had heard that the Strangler Bureau was looking into the Bessie Goldberg murder and didn't want Roy Smith's attorney, who was appealing his case, finding out about Ait.
DELANEY: They considered that a conflict of interest. Well, it is. From their point of view. But what about from the constitution saying a fair trial and fair review and all of this for the man convicted?
COOPER: Delaney also says he uncovered a lead the Belmont police never pursued. A neighbor of the Goldbergs had seen a man in his driveway the day of the murder.
DELANEY: And this elderly gentleman went out to find out, what are you doing in my driveway? And the man said, hi, I'm painting a house here in Belmont, and the job's coming to an end, and I'm looking for some paint jobs.
COOPER: DeSalvo's job at the Jungers' home was ending the very next day.
(on camera): One piece that did not seem to fit the pattern is that Bessie Goldberg was killed in a house, that house behind me. All the other women had been killed in apartment buildings. Still, Investigator Steve Delaney was convinced that DeSalvo, not Smith, had killed her. So he went to visit DeSalvo in prison to ask him.
DELANEY: He greeted me with, I know the reason you're here. And he said, you're wasting your time. I told the other guys that I didn't do it, and I didn't do it.
COOPER (voice-over): But remember, DeSalvo could provide precise and unsettling details about that murder, as well as details about the house where it occurred.
S. JUNGER: DeSalvo knew what kind of gutters were on the Goldberg house. DeSalvo knew a lot about that murder. And it was a murder that he never claimed. It was a murder that ultimately was taken off the strangler list.
COOPER: As for Delaney's prison visit, in one out of control moment, he accepted DeSalvo's offer to demonstrate his choking technique.
DELANEY: And the right arm was up very quick, no noise. And I thought he was going to just take it away right away. But he squeezed, OK? And I started feeling like I was going down. And I'm saying, OK, OK. I get your point. But I'm thinking, here lies Steve Delaney, a real stupid cop, you know? I mean -- and he let go. He went on to another subject. And I don't know, I sat there, and I said, you know, this interview's going nowhere.
COOPER: To this day, Delaney still thinks DeSalvo killed Bessie Goldberg in addition to the 13 others.
DELANEY: Assume I'm right and he did it. He has nothing to gain, confessing to a crime where a man's been convicted, nothing. I can assure you from experience the district attorney would come down hard on him.
COOPER: F. Lee Bailey, Albert DeSalvo's attorney, sees it differently.
BAILEY: Albert told, not with glee, but with some satisfaction, detectives about two murders that were not on the list. What did he have to lose by including Bessie Goldberg? I mean, he could have. Did Albert feel badly that somebody got indicted and tried and convicted for it? Probably not.
COOPER: In February 1967, DeSalvo and two other inmates got their hands on a skeleton key and escaped for 24 terrifying hours. But DeSalvo gave himself up the very next morning at a shoe store in Lynn, Massachusetts.
ALBERT DESALVO, THE BOSTON STRANGLER: And I also wrote in the letter I left at my bedside that I would do no harm to nobody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Al, did you keep that promise?
DESALVO: I did. I didn't bother nobody.
COOPER: Not long after that, DeSalvo surprised the public once again when he recanted all his confessions, claiming he was not the Boston strangler.
CASEY SHERMAN, AUTHOR, "SEARCH FOR THE STRANGLER": Now, the question I had was, why would DeSalvo confess if he didn't do it? Albert DeSalvo was already in prison. He knew he'd never get out. He had no way to financially support his wife and two young children. So he thought, if I become the Boston strangler, if I confess to these crimes, I can cash in on a book and a movie deal, and there's a hefty reward that my family can get to.
LOUIS SCHLESINGER, FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: I would say that if Albert DeSalvo's confessions represent a false confession, this is probably one of the most traumatic cases of false confession in history. He knew exactly what happened down to a great deal of detail. And miraculously, all of the murders seem to have stopped when he was arrested.
COOPER: But any remaining suspicions or doubts or ambiguities about DeSalvo could never really be answered because on November 26, 1973, the 10-year anniversary, almost to the day of Roy Smith's conviction, Albert DeSalvo was murdered.
S. JUNGER: DeSalvo knew that something was up. He had some reason to be worried and he claimed that he had stomach problems. And he talked his way into the prison infirmary which was behind something like four locked doors in Walpole prison. Someone got through those locked doors and stabbed DeSalvo something like 16 times in the chest. They didn't just kill DeSalvo. They shredded his chest with a knife.
COOPER: There are some theories that the murder was related to his drug dealing activities in prison. Others believe he was killed to stop him from revealing the identity of the real Boston strangler. We may never know.
All this time, Roy Smith had been quietly serving time at another prison and still appealing to have his sentence commuted.
In August 1976, after 11 years in prison and in ill health, his plea was granted. He was free to go, but it was too late for Roy Smith.
BERYL COHEN, ROY SMITH'S ATTORNEY: I was at his bedside, attempted to explain that he was free to leave. He hardly acknowledged it. He was in the depths of his illness. And it was just too late. Came too late. It's the final act of what I believe and have believed for 42 years is a miscarriage of justice.
COOPER: Roy Smith died just two days later with the governor's commutation on his night stand. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Oxford, Mississippi.
COACH SMITH, ROY SMITH'S NEPHEW: The first thing I heard was Roy was coming home. And I heard that from his mother. A few days later, I was walking into the door, and she was crying. And she was the one that told me that he was coming home. And she told me then, he's coming home, but he's in a box.
COOPER: Their deaths, of course, meant that neither Roy Smith nor Albert DeSalvo could ever change their stories to tell us what really happened to Bessie Goldberg on that spring day in 1963 in a place called Belmont.
(on camera): So, who do you think killed Bessie Goldberg?
(BEGIN GRAPHIC) Taking your calls, 1-877-648-3639.
COOPER: We want to take you back now to the day Roy Smith was convicted of the murder of Bessie Goldberg. It was the day after President Kennedy was assassinated. The entire nation, especially Kennedy's home state of Massachusetts, was in shock and sorrow. The jury deliberated just two hours. Roy Smith was guilty of murder, but not of sexual assault. An oddly split verdict, but jurors gave no explanation and hurried out of the courtroom.
(voice-over): Smith's attorney would argue the assassination put a tremendous strain on the jury, which was unfair for his client. Three years after he filed his appeal, the state supreme court made a ruling. It said Roy Smith was guilty, but guilty with a degree of doubt.
COHEN: The state supreme court, in its decision, stated, it is unlikely, though not impossible, that someone other than the defendant had the opportunity to commit the crime.
COOPER: The distinction, of course, is that unlikely does not mean impossible. So Sebastian Junger looked at the question. If not Smith, could Albert DeSalvo have actually left the work site at the Junger home and got into the Goldbergs' and back in that narrow timeframe?
(on camera): Would it have been possible for him to have committed that murder and get back here?
S. JUNGER: Yes. It would have been. It's a mile, 1.2 miles. He had a car here. He could have driven that in a few minutes. And he was here most of the day alone. Now, whether he did it or not is a different question, but he certainly had the opportunity to.
L. GOLDBERG: And that's almost impossible because the kids were outside playing for most of the time between the time that Roy Smith left and my father came home. He would have had to crawl under the back door or something, because my mother certainly wouldn't have let him in.
DELANEY: The time that it took him to enter, assault, kill, rape, was maximum 30 minutes. In two or three of the cases he describes, he says 20 minutes, 30 minutes. I'm in, I do it, I'm out.
COOPER (voice-over): but remember, the circumstantial evidence against Roy Smith was damning. So what about the motive? Would Roy Smith have killed a woman for what would have amounted to about $6 in change?
RICHARD KELLEY, FORMER MIDDLESEX COUNTY PROSECUTOR: His girlfriend had left him with his son just a few days before. When he went to the Department of Employment Security, the woman there wondered whether he had been drinking. So you have somebody that may very well have been drinking, who's agitated to begin with, you see, and then he went to the house. And if he got into a dispute with her, he could have exploded.
COHEN: What's the basis for that? For an opinion such as that explosion that no one saw or heard? No sign of explosion, an emotional explosion, violence, extreme violence, pummeling, stomping, none of that.
COOPER (on camera): In fact, it appears as if there was no fight at all. Bessie Goldberg was found with her glasses still on, as if she had been suddenly surprised. There was no sign of forced entry. No real clues. Since Smith was there to clean the house that day, his fingerprints were everywhere. So if this was the work of the strangler, it bore his trademark. It was a pristine crime scene.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The crimes were marked by silence. No one ever heard anything. Secrecy. He gained entry without any difficulty. Came and went. Nothing was disturbed. Left no clues. These remain clueless crimes.
DELANEY: I have 45 minutes that Roy Smith is out of that house before the husband comes home. You take the fact that Albert's 1.2 miles between his stop and Bessie Goldberg's, and there's somebody soliciting paint jobs across the street, and he is painting is Belmont. And he admits he did murders out of the Junger home while he was working in Belmont. And I say, give that to a jury today, and Roy Smith is not guilty.
SHERMAN: To think that Albert DeSalvo could travel to Bessie Goldberg's house in Belmont within an hour, rape and murder her, get out without anybody seeing him, I think, is a stretch. Roy Smith was a guilty man who got an unfair trial. But does that mean Roy Smith was innocent of the crime? I don't think so.
COOPER (voice-over): For Leah Goldberg, who was 24 at the time of the murder, the pain is still raw. The suggestion that Roy Smith could be innocent, simply not possible.
L. GOLDBERG: I think he's guilty because there's a lot of evidence against him. To begin with, he lied to the police. He lied about his arrival. He lied about his departure. He lied about the fact that he didn't finish cleaning the house. He lied about the amount of money that my mother had given him. All he did was lie after lie after lie. And it's not made clear in the book at all. Because if it is made clear, you have no mystery.
COOPER: Leah Goldberg takes issue with Sebastian Junger's suggestion that Roy Smith might not be her mother's killer.
L. GOLDBERG: You can see it's preposterous. There is overwhelming circumstantial evidence that convicted Roy Smith. He took her life. She was healthy. She was still relatively young. She was 63 years old. And he had taken her life away from her. And he had ruined my father's life.
COOPER: Naturally, Roy Smith's family sees it with the same intensity, but they see it completely differently.
SMITH: This was a man that died trying to reveal his innocence. And being locked up, I know how he suffered. And that's why I want it to be known that I feel that Roy is innocent. And I take on any challenges from anyone of proving me wrong.
COOPER: In the final chapter, "A Death in Belmont," is Sebastian Junger's book. For him, it's a journey that began with a handyman, Albert DeSalvo, who was working at his family's house. So this investigation comes from Junger's magnifying glass.
(on camera): Who do you think killed Bessie Goldberg?
S. JUNGER: If I knew that, I would have been able to write a very different book. It was possibly Roy Smith. He was a troubled guy. He had a violent streak in him. And let's face it, he was in that home that day. It would have been hard for someone else to commit that murder.
But that said, it's not beyond a reasonable doubt. If he's innocent, then the question moves to who did kill her? You decide.
COOPER: And when we return, we'll be joined by Author Sebastian Junger and his mother, Ellen. Plus, we'll be taking your calls. Who do you think killed Bessie Goldberg on that day in Belmont?
COOPER: Welcome back to this special edition of 360, "A Death in Belmont." In a moment we'll be talking to Author Sebastian Junger, his mother, and others connected to this case.
And if you have questions or comments about the murder of Bessie Goldberg or about the Boston strangler, call us toll-free, 877-648- 3639.
First Erica Hill, of "HEADLINE NEWS," joins us with some of the other stories we're following tonight -- Erica.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Anderson.
Two members of the Duke University LaCrosse team are free on bond tonight. That's after being charged in an alleged rape at an off campus party. Sources close to the defense say neither Reade Seligmann, nor Collin Finnerty were at the party where a stripper says three men raped her. The D.A. says investigators are still trying to determine the identity of the third suspect.
In St. Louis, Missouri, a deadly shooting spree. Police say a man killed the mother of his child, then went to the catering company where he worked, where he killed two others before turning the gun on himself. Police say the man was upset about having to pay child support to the woman, and then went to his workplace because he was angry about a pay cut.
At the White House today, President Bush expressing his support once again for embattled Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Bush says Rumsfeld is doing a fine job, despite calls for his resignation from six retired generals. And later today at a Pentagon briefing, Rumsfeld said he had no plans to step down -- Anderson.
HILL: Of course, that hasn't stopped the speculation.
COOPER: It certainly hasn't. Erica, thanks.
In a moment, we'll talk to Sebastian Junger about his new book "A Death in Belmont," and he'll be taking your calls. Your chance to ask a question about the case, about the Boston strangler. Call us toll- free, 877-648-3639. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Welcome back to this special edition of 360. Tonight we've been looking at a theory Sebastian Junger explores in his new book, "A Death in Belmont." The question is, was Roy Smith wrongly convicted for the 1963 murder of Bessie Goldberg? And was the killing actually committed by the Boston strangler?
In a moment we'll take your calls and your questions and comments about the case. You can call us toll-free at 877-648-3639.
Joining me right now is Author Sebastian Junger. Thanks for being with us.
S. JUNGER: My pleasure.
COOPER: Congratulations on writing the book.
S. JUNGER: Thank you.
COOPER: It's received criticism already, and it's controversial on a number of fronts. I want to run over some of the criticism and have respond to it.
In the "Wall Street Journal," Joshua Marquis, a prosecutor wrote, "A Death in Belmont," seemed like going through the files of a bungled investigation. How did you vet your information in your report?
S. JUNGER: I rounded up an incredible collection of legal professionals in Massachusetts -- a sitting judge, a homicide prosecutor, an appellate attorney. And I had them read the entire trial transcript, around 3,000 pages, and basically explain it to me and explain criminal law to me.
After I finished writing the book, I gave all of these men the manuscript, and they suggested changes and corrections, which I made, and then before it went to a fact checker, I sent it to the original Defense Attorney Beryl Cohen, and the original Prosecutor Richard Kelley. And they read it and vetted it and signed off on it. And so I felt that that would really achieve impartiality.
COOPER: We're going to speak to both of those men too, a little bit later on in this next half hour.
Leah Goldberg, the daughter of Bessie Goldberg, has been very critical of the book, calling it inaccurate. She says that, for example, in the book you say Roy Smith never lied to investigators, but that he lied about his arrival, departure and the state of the house -- the state the house was left in when he left. How do you respond to that?
S. JUNGER: Well, did he lie or did he not know? I mean, he was a guy with a drinking problem who didn't own a watch. And he was interrogated for 12 hours. So when they say, when did you arrive? And he said, well, I think it was around noon, it perfectly well could be that he just simply didn't know. And it's possible -- I mean, of course, I don't know -- but it's possible that he could have been telling the truth about the furniture in the living room. Maybe he finished cleaning, and he left, and she continued cleaning. I mean, they were -- Bessie Goldberg continued cleaning. They were having company that night. Maybe she was a perfectionist, maybe he hadn't done a perfect job and she continued cleaning and then someone else came in and killed her. Now, of course, I don't know, but that's one way of explaining his answers without having him actually lying.
COOPER: And explaining those pictures that we saw of the vacuuming equipment still out...
S. JUNGER: Exactly.
C: ... if, in fact, Roy Smith didn't leave that out.
Leah Goldberg also said that you, in the book, never mention the fact that Roy Smith's appeal was denied in the book.
S. JUNGER: Well, I talked about the fact that he had an appeal, but then he spent 13 years in prison. And he had to have lost it. I mean, eventually his sentence was commuted. There's no way he could have won the appeal. I never suggest that he did.
COOPER: The intimation is that you, for the sake of your book, don't want obvious information, damning against Roy Smith, to be presented because it takes away the mystery of the book.
S. JUNGER: The book is loaded with damning information about Roy Smith. I mean, the state had a very compelling case against him. I go into great detail about an assault in New York, about his crime in Mississippi, about his drinking problem. I examined every possibility that he could have done the murder.
COOPER: And you don't take sides in the book. I mean, you went into this kind of hoping you could figure out one way or the other, but, I mean, you're trying to look at as many different sides as possible.
S. JUNGER: Yes. I mean, of course, every journalist wants to get the answer. And what I realized would be really fascinating about this book is, given that I couldn't find an absolute answer, could I sort of present the evidence to the reader and have them effectively become the jury? That was what was intriguing to me about this book.
COOPER: We're going to talk more about that. We're also going to be joined by Sebastian's mom, who had some incredible encounters with Albert DeSalvo in their home, also the prosecutor and the defense attorney in the original case.
In a moment, Sebastian and his mom are going to be answering your questions about the death in Belmont. Call us toll-free, 877-648- 3639.
Earlier, Sebastian's mom talked about the eerie feeling that she had when the Boston strangler worked in her home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
E. JUNGER: It was the expression in the eyes. The expression was just terrifying. It's hard to describe. It was so intense. So intense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As I said, we'll talk to Ellen Junger and the lawyers in the Bessie Goldberg murder trial when this special edition of 360, "A Death in Belmont," continues.
COOPER: We are back with Best-Selling Author Sebastian Junger, whose latest work "A Death in Belmont," offers a theory that an innocent man may have been convicted for a murder committed by the Boston Strangler.
Along with us, Sebastian's mother, Ellen Junger, who earlier described her own frightening encounter with the Boston strangler, Albert DeSalvo, who was working as a handyman in their home, incredibly.
In a moment, we'll take your calls. If you have questions or comments, the toll-free number is 877-648-3639.
Ellen, let me start off with you. You must be incredibly proud of Sebastian. I mean, he's had quite an amazing record of writing...
E. JUNGER: I am.
C: ... but this book is obviously very personal.
E. JUNGER: I've always been proud of Sebastian. This is nothing new.
COOPER: When -- I mean, I can't imagine what it's like, you know, you knew this guy, Al, the handyman. He seemed kind of like a nice guy. I mean, there were these creepy encounters that you had, but overall he seemed OK. And then that day you got that call, and you learned that Albert DeSalvo has confessed to being the Boston strangler. It must have been just incredible. E. JUNGER: It was. It was overwhelming. Even seeing this tonight has been overwhelming.
COOPER: Just seeing it all again?
E. JUNGER: Right, right. And seeing -- I'm having a hard time looking at Al DeSalvo's face. Because over the years, I've thought of his face as -- well, I thought of Al as the one in the picture in the studio, which is a smiling face. And seeing him after the police have taken him and so forth, and it was not a nice face. I had a hard time with it.
COOPER: Take us back. You're at the top of the stairs. Albert DeSalvo is at the bottom of the stairs, and he's calling you down into your cellar, into your basement, claiming that there's a problem with the washing machine, when he hadn't even turned on the washing machine. It was his first day at work. He knew nothing about the washing machine. What do you think -- I mean, what was that look in his eyes? What do you think he wanted?
E. JUNGER: Well, actually, it was not his first day of work.
COOPER: Oh, it wasn't?
E. JUNGER: No. That was the next day.
E. JUNGER: He came out all on his own. And it was very fast. I heard the door slam. And then he was calling me. And when I opened the door, he was standing in front of the -- right at the foot of the stairs. And I just immediately froze. I mean, at first I thought, this is so strange about the washing machine. But then I just felt terrified, absolutely terrified. And his look was just riveting. And I -- so I thought, what am I going to do? And then I thought, well, I had just said, Al, you're -- there's -- I'm sure it's all right, and thank you, and I closed the door. Heart pounding, I closed the door.
COOPER: Thank God you did not go down those steps. I mean, this must have been a family legend, growing up in your house.
S. JUNGER: Yes, this is a story I grew up with. And it sort of had two sides. One was, well, Al DeSalvo, who confessed to being the Boston strangler was working for us. And maybe he was the one who killed Bessie Goldberg, and Roy Smith was innocent. And the other half of the story that I grew up with, or at least wondered about, was, was my mother ever in danger, and could I have lost her?
Obviously, the story turned out well in that sense because I didn't. But it was a very troubling question.
COOPER: And, you know, you look at that picture we were just showing. I don't know if we can put it back up, taken when you were an infant in your mother's arms. And there is that hand of Albert DeSalvo, as you say in the book, sort of -- almost as if it's the center of the photo. And to think of all the things, all the terrible things that hand did.
S. JUNGER: Or could have done. Yes, that's right. And it's an amazing photo because it looks composed. I mean, you wouldn't see his hand if my mother weren't turning to look at me. And it's right at the center of the photo. And it really is almost like it was intentionally composed. Particularly if you know what that hand could have done.
COOPER: It is just remarkable.
As I said, we're going to be taking your phone calls in just a moments.
But first, we're going to bring into the discussion Beryl Cohen, who was Roy Smith's defense attorney, and Richard Kelley, who was the former Middlesex County prosecutor.
Gentlemen, thanks for being with us.
KELLEY: You're welcome.
COOPER: Mr. Cohen, 40 years. Has this changed the way you have seen this case?
COHEN: No, not at all. For 40 years, I've held the same opinion since this case was decided the day after President Kennedy was assassinated.
COOPER: You believe Roy Smith is innocent?
C: Mr. Kelley, how about you? Forty years later, do you think he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, Roy Smith?
KELLEY: Absolutely. It was a circumstantial evidence case. But if I were to enumerate all the facts, I think you would be terribly persuaded that the jury came in on the verdict of murder and larceny absolutely right on the mark.
COOPER: Mr. Cohen, what about that? I mean, the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. Roy Smith was in the house that day. The timeframe, no one else was seen going in or out. He had a criminal record.
COHEN: Well, what I believe happened is that Judge Bolster (ph) collapsed the entire case by his remarks to -- his prejudicial remarks to the jury after the close of the -- closing argument where Dick Kelley -- the judge inappropriately informed the jury that the president had been shot, that the vice president had been shot, and that the case was going to continue.
COOPER: Well, actually, you know, there are those who say, look, a bad trial does not necessarily mean this man is innocent.
But we're getting a lot of calls. I want to go to some of those callers.
Miriam from Pennsylvania. Miriam, what's your question or comment?
MIRIAM, PENNSYLVANIA (on the phone): My question is listening to this program, were there any questions done about the husband and wife relationship and the possibility of the husband coming home earlier, having done M.O. type of murder on his own wife?
COOPER: Sebastian, was the husband ever questioned?
S. JUNGER: Well, he was questioned by the police in the sense that they were trying to gather information. He came home from work and was home about two minutes and ran out of the house screaming. He was seen by children going in and then children saw him come out, screaming, very, very upset. So, it's unconceivable that he could have done the murder.
COOPER: Miriam, appreciate your call.
We also have another caller, Marilyn from Georgia. Marilyn, what's your comment or question?
MARILYN, GEORGIA (on the phone): I was just wondering, is there any DNA evidence from Ms. Goldberg that can now be compared to DeSalvo or Smith, to find out the truth?
COOPER: Mr. Cohen, what do you think about that? Is there...
COHEN: No. No, DNA wasn't available until about 1989. And this trial was held in 1963. There is no knowledge of any such specimens that are available today for scientific evaluation.
COOPER: Sebastian, what do you think?
S. JUNGER: I looked for it. I looked up and down for it. And I was told that it had been thrown out and had been destroyed along with a lot of other evidence from old cases.
COOPER: Steve from Vancouver, Canada, is calling in with a question or comment. Steve?
STEVE, VANCOUVER, CANADA (on the phone): Yes, hey, Anderson. Two quick questions. One, what relevance does not dismissing the jury after JFK was assassinated have to the case and how is that prejudice? And two, F. Lee Bailey, in his little piece there, during your segment, had said that there was no reason for him to admit to the killing, considering he was already going to jail for life, that there's no benefit for him, so he must be telling the truth. Are we assuming that he was just telling the truth after he obviously killed 12 other people?
COOPER: OK, two things. The relevance, Sebastian, to you, of the jury not being dismissed or being allowed to go to jury after JFK was shot. S. JUNGER: Well, a lot of other courtrooms or juries were suspended. I don't know how much time they had off, but they did not go, continue to deliberate the next day. So obviously, that was an issue for some judges.
My book focuses more on weighing the evidence. That was more of a procedural thing in the trial. The actual evidence is what interested me more.
COOPER: Let me ask the attorneys, Mr. Kelley, do you think any significance to the fact that this jury was not dismissed?
KELLEY: I think it's a serious question. But I do think that the evidence would -- if there were a retrial, would have brought the same result. But I do think that it's a serious question. In today's world, if that issue went to supreme judicial court, it might very well be changed.
COOPER: Mr. Cohen?
COHEN: This is Beryl Cohen. Let me just quickly say that in Boston, Massachusetts, today, there are thousands of families that have a photo of John F. Kennedy in their living room. They still admire and respect and love John F. Kennedy. This is not Arkansas, Ohio, or Alabama. And when Sebastian wrote in his book, that in Boston, people were, if possible, in an even greater state of shock than in Washington. Telephone lines in and out of Boston were so overloaded that callers had to wait 20 minutes to get a dial tone. Scrub women at the State House on Beacon Hill sobbed as they went about their chores...
COOPER: So your point is that in Boston, this is a big deal?
COHEN: Absolutely. And by requiring the jury to go out and make a decision on a case that had been tried for three weeks, over 50 witnesses, was -- and not to recess during the days of mourning...
COOPER: Right. OK.
COHEN: In the country, skewered the results.
COOPER: Cheryl in North Carolina, on the blog, wants to know, "Do most serial killers admit to all the murders they act out? If they do then why wouldn't DeSalvo admit to this one?"
It also gets to the last caller's second question -- Sebastian.
S. JUNGER: Well, I talked a little bit about that in my book. I don't know what most serial killers do, but in this instance, confessing to a crime that already has been settled in court, where there's already a conviction, is very, very difficult. It puts the police in a very awkward position. The courts -- no one wants to hear it. And it might have jeopardized what DeSalvo was trying to do in confessing to the other crimes.
COOPER: Divora, from Arizona has a call, as well. Divora? DIVORA, ARIZONA (on the phone): Yes, I was wondering why the daughter wouldn't want to investigate further to find out if Roy Smith really did kill her mother. I would really want to know who the real killer was. And is it possible also that he did steal the money and maybe he was nervous and that's why he didn't pass the lie detector test?
COOPER: Well, first of all, Leah Goldberg, she's been very outspoken, criticizing the book. This caller is asking her motivation.
S. JUNGER: Well, murder -- it absolutely devastates a family. And maybe for a couple of generations. And the family of a murder victim, they stake all of their grieving process on the idea that this guy killed the person they love. And they get -- I think what happens, is they get rid of some of their grief by hating this person. And so after 40 years, to reevaluate that and start that process all over again, trying to think of someone else as the villain and also possibly mourn a second destroyed life, the wrongly convicted, is just, I think, psychologically overwhelming. And even when there's DNA exoneration, which is now starting to happen because of DNA evidence, the family -- DNA is a trillion to one odds, something like that. The families cannot accept that the person they thought was the killer, is not.
COOPER: We've got another caller, Doc from New York. Doc, what's your question?
DOC, NEW YORK (on the phone): Actually, I have too many questions. I would like to just lend myself to commenting.
DOC: I'm very -- first of all, I'd like to thank you, Anderson Cooper, for bringing such a high level of credibility to the news. We don't get enough of it.
And I've been following this program very intently. My instinct and intelligent do not believe Albert DeSalvo committed the crime of killing Bessie Goldberg. I really don't believe Roy Smith committed the crime, and I think my comment is going to be one that hasn't been mentioned regarding former Prosecutor Richard Kelley who was quite smug, chuckling, smirking and grinning through most of his comments before getting on your program. I'm very under whelmed by it and I think it really just lends disgrace to the justice system.
COOPER: All right. There's not really much we can say about that.
Linda in Massachusetts, on our blog writes in, "Anderson, please ask the author if he knows the status of the DNA testing that was performed on one of the strangler's victims -- one Mary Sullivan."
That's covered a little bit in the last show we did. But what do you know about that? S. JUNGER: Well, in my mind, it was confusing. The last victim was exhumed. And DNA -- the DNA from her was compared to DNA from a brother of DeSalvo. And it did not match, but it was also taken from a part of her body where she had not been sexually violated. So it's, in my mind, indeterminate.
COOPER: We appreciate all the calls and the comments on the blog.
Beryl Cohen, appreciate you joining us.
Richard Kelley, as well.
We have a lot more coming up, right after this commercial break. Stay with us.
COOPER: Erica Hill of "HEADLINE NEWS," joins us with some of the business stories we're following right now -- Erica.
HILL: Hey Anderson, some good news on Wall Street today. Stocks soaring after a Federal Reserve report showed the end may be near for interest rate hikes. Good news all around there, actually. The Dow gained nearly 195 points, the S&P closed up more than 22, while a tech-heavy NASDAQ jumped nearly 45 points.
On to Houston, Texas, now, where he didn't lose his temper, but former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling did seem to boil at times in court today. Under cross examination, a prosecutor asked Skilling about bad investments kept off the books, allegedly to hide Enron's financial mess. Skilling occasionally answered the questions with sarcasm or lengthy explanations which the prosecutor cut short. Skilling and Enron Founder Kenneth Lay are charged with fraud and conspiracy.
And consolidation by health insurance companies is creating near monopolies in many parts of the U.S. That's according to a new study by the American Medical Association. It shows 56 percent of metropolitan areas have just one health insurer controlling more than half of the policies, creating antitrust issues. The AMA says mergers have led to lower cost for the companies, but that the savings aren't being passed along to the patient.
Hmm, imagine that.
COOPER: Yes, imagine that. Wow, what a surprise.
Erica, thanks very much.
I want to thank Sebastian Junger for making this possible, this special. The books is "A Death in Belmont," and it's just out today. And good luck with that.
S. JUNGER: Thank you very much.
COOPER: And to Ellen Junger, Sebastian's mom, thank you so much for being with us and telling your part of the story as well.
E. JUNGER: Thank you.
COOPER: Thanks for joining us for this special edition of 360, "A Death in Belmont." As I said, the book is now in bookstores.
"LARRY KING" is next. His guest, Jane Fonda.
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