David Berkowitz is better known as "The Son of Sam" or "The .44 Caliber Killer". The Berkowitz murders, which took place in the 1970's, were brought back into the spot light thanks to a film by Spike Lee called "The Summer of Sam". The movie follows closely to the lives of some party goers and verious 70's charcters and focuses on the panic brought forth by Berkowitz. It does not focus, as well as it should have, on the case it's self. (I do recomend it as a rental.)
In the begining...
David Berkowitz was born on June 1, 1953, and was given up for adoption soon after. At the time of his birth, David's biological mother, Betty Broder, was involved with a man who did not want children and threatened to leave her if she did not give the child up. She was very sadened by this decision but, after much thought, decided that it was for the best. David was addopted by a nice jewish couple by the name of Nat and Pearl Berkowitz. Pearl had a history, unknown to David, of breast cancer.
The couple were very happy with their new son and showered him with gifts and love. As a child, David tended to be a loner and was later remembered as a bully who picked on smaller kids, by neighbors. David was always alittle over weight causing him self esteme issues, that would later effect his life. As a child the only sport David was involved in was baseball and he was fairly good at it. Nat and Pearl had difficulty controling their son due to his violent streaks and hyperactive activities.
In 1965 and 1967, Pearl had a second and third bout with breast cancer. David was not prepared for the effects that chemotherapy had on his mother. Pearl Berkowitz died in November of 1967. David was devistated by the loss of his mother and began to become more and more distant to thoes around him. David's imagination began to toy with him and he soon began to firmly lose faith in God and think that Pearl's death was part of a grand scheme to destroy him. His grades began to slip as well as his grip on reality.
In 1971, Nat remaried and moved with his new bride to Flordia, leaving David in New York. David was not prepared for the world that lie ahead of him. David began to become imersed in a fantasy life that became more and more real to him. Eventually, his fantasy life became stronger to him than his real one. In 1971, David joined the Army were he remained for 3 years. Durring his time in the Army, David had his first sexual experience with a woman who was a prostitute in Korea. From this experience he contracted venereal disease.
In the army, David was an excellent marksman, especially with a rifle. Eventually David found his biological mother Betty Falco. She and her daughter Roslyn tried to get close to David, but after a while he became distant and severed most contact.
Out of the Army... But still violent...
In 1974, David left the Army, but was feeling violent due to his lack of success with women and his strange fantasys that began to take control of his life. Before becoming a murderer, Berkowitz was into arson. David Berkowitz set 1,488 fires in and around the New York area, keeping a journal of all of them. Around this time Berkowitz wrote a letter to his father that was a hidden cry for help. Part of the letter read:
"It's cold and gloomy here in New York, but that's okay because the weather fits my mood -- gloomy. Dad, the world is getting dark now. I can feel it more and more. The people, they are developing a hatred for me. You wouldn't believe how much some people hate me. Many of them want to kill me. I don't even know these people, but still they hate me. Most of them are young. I walk down the street and they spit and kick at me. The girls call me ugly and they bother me the most. The guys just laugh. Anyhow, things will soon change for the better."
Berkowitz then locked himself in his small apartment, leaving only for food. He began writing strange things on the walls like: "In this hole lives the Wicked King. Kill for my Master." and "I turn children into Killers."
Berkowitz later claimed that he heard demons in his head that urged him to kill. Demons that bothered him 24/7 and never let up. On Christmas Eve in 1975, Berkowitz would finaly snap, giving in to the Demon's demands. He took a large hunting knife and began to walk the streets looking for his victim. Berkowitz claims that his first victim was comming out of a grocery store when he stabbed her in the back twice. "I stabbed her and she didn't do anything. She just turned and looked at me." he later told police. He claims she screamed and ran away. Police never found this first victim and doubt that it even happened. Berkowitz's second victim did, however happen. Berkowitz later stabbed 15 year old Michelle Forman in the head. She managed to escape and run for help. She was seriously injured but survived. Forman had six stab wounds from the knife. Berkowitz finshed off the evening with a burger and fries. In January of 1976, Berkowitz moved from his small appartment into a two story house in Yonkers, New York owned by Jack and Nann Cassara. He was in a 2-year lease and had paid a $200.00 security deposit. His neighbors had a dog, as did many in that neighborhood. Berkowitz believed that his inner demons lived within the dogs and that their howling and barking were ways of commanding Berkowitz to kill. When later asked about the dogs, Berkowitz said : "I'd come home to Coligni avenue like at six-thirty in the morning. It would begin then, the howling. On my days, off, I heard it all night, too. It made me scream. I used to scream out begging for the noise to stop. It never did. The demons never stopped. I couldn't sleep. I had no strength to fight. I could barely drive. Coming home from work one night, I almost killed myself in the car. I needed to sleep....The demons wouldn't give me any peace."
After only 3 months, Berkowitz moved out of the house and into another appartment in Yonkers. Berkowitz claimed that he believed that the Cassara's were demons in desguise. "When I moved in the Cassaras seemed very nice and quiet." Berkowitz said, "But they tricked me. They lied. I thought they were members of the human race. They weren't! Suddenly the Cassaras began to show up with the demons. They began to howl and cry out. 'Blood and death!' They called out the names of the masters! The Blood Monster, John Wheaties, General Jack Cosmo." In Berkowittz's fantasy world, Cassara was General Jack Cosmo, leader of the Demon Dogs of New York. The demons constantly howled for blood, and Berkowitz was their tool.
Berkowitz's new appartment also had dogs around it. One dog was by the name of Harvey and was owned by Sam Carr. Berkowitz sent a letter to Carr regarding his dog.
"I have asked you kindly to stop that dog from howling all day long, yet he continues to do so. I pleaded with you. I told you how this is destroying my family. We have no peace, no rest. Now I know what kind of a person you are and what kind of a family you are. You are cruel and inconsiderate. You have no love for any other human beings. Your selfish, Mr. Carr. My life is destroyed now. I have nothing to lose anymore. I can see that there shall be no peace in my life, or my families life until I end yours." Carr did not know that it was Berkowitz that had sent the letter. Carr soon called the police who listened but did nothing.
Berkowitz eventually shot Harvey with a gun after another previous failed attempt involving a Molotov cocktail. Carr rushed his dog to a vet who was able to save the dog. In Berkowitz's mind Sam Carr was possessed by a powerful demon by the name of Sam, who worked for General Jack Cosmo. He believed at different times that Sam was the Devil and that Sam could only be killed by God himself in Armageddon. Berkowitz warned of Sam's power saying: "This Sam and his demons have been responsible for a lot of killing." Berkowitz then killed Donna Lauria and tried to kill her friend Jody Valenti after being promised by Sam that Donna would one day return from the dead to marry Berkowitz. Valenti survived the attack but could offer little help to the police, because she had not seen the shooter very well. Three months later Berkowitz would again attack, shooting Carl Denaro in the head. Denaro would recvieve medical attention (A steel plate attached to the hole in his skull) and survive. The girl he was with was not injured in the attack. on November 26, 1976, Berkowitz would again attack, shooting two women in the back. One would recieve medical attention and be fine, the other recieved a serious spinal injury and would be paraplegic for the rest of her life. Berkowitz struck again on January 30, 1977 when he attacked a couple making out in a car. The male would escape unharmed, but his female companion would not be so lucky. She died in the hospital after recieving two shots to the head.
As police began to further investigate the attacks they came to the conclusion that the killer was using a .44 and attacking attractive young women at random. After the point blank murder of another woman, detectives set up a special task force designed to catch the ".44 Caliber Killer" before he attacked again. The Operation Omega, as it would be called, took New Yorks finest detectives and cops and put them to work. It was considered a rare privalage to be assigned to Operation Omega. Police released this discription of the killer saying he was "a white male, twenty-five to thirty years old, six feet tall, medium build, with dark hair." On April 17, 1977 the killer struck again this time leaving the now famous letter behind. Both the victims would not survive their gun shot wounds. The letter read:
" Dear Captain Joseph Borrelli,
I am deeply hurt by your calling me a wemon hater. I am not. But I am a monster. I am the 'Son of Sam.' I am a little brat.
When father Sam gets drunk he gets mean. He beats his family. Sometimes he ties me up to the back of the house. Other times he locks me in the garage. Sam loves to drink blood.
'Go out and kill,' commands father Sam.
'Behind our house some rest. Mostly young -- raped and slaughtered -- their blood drained -- just bones now.
Papa Sam keeps me locked in the attic too. I can't get out but I look out the attic window and watch the world go by.
I feel like an outsider. I am on a different wavelength then everybody else -- programmed too kill.
However, to stop me you must kill me. Attention all police: Shoot me first -- shoot to kill or else keep out of my way or you will die!
Papa Sam is old now. He needs some blood to preserve his youth. He has had too many heart attacks. 'Ugh, me hoot, it hurts, sonny boy.'
I miss my pretty princess most of all. She's resting in our ladies house. But I'll see her soon.
I am the 'Monster' -- 'Beelzebub' -- the chubby behemouth.
I love to hunt. Prowling the streets looking for fair game -- tasty meat. The wemon of Queens are prettyist of all. It must be the water they drink. I live for the hunt -- my life. Blood for papa.
Mr. Borrelli, sir, I don't want to kill anymore. No sur, no more but I must, 'honour thy father.'
I want to make love to the world. I love people. I don't belong on earth. Return me to yahoos.
To the people of Queens, I love you. And I want to wish all of you a happy Easter. May
God bless you in this life and in the next.
I say Good Bye and Good Night. POLICE: let me haunt you with these words, I'll be back! I'll be back! To be Interrpreted as - BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, - UGH!!
Now police had a name. "The Son of Sam"
Media Madness and Patron Panic
The mayor of New York called a press confrence to discuss the killings of "the Son of Sam". Operation Omega was swarmed with calls from people who were convinced that they knew who the Son of Sam was. All of the Thousands of "leads" had to be investigated. Son of Sam was the dark loner in the corner of the bar who hated women. He was the neighbor who came home late every night. He was the Gun happy Brother in law. The Son of Sam was a household name, and he knew it. It was durring this time that Berkowitz wrote this letter to Jimmy Breslin, a reporter for the Daily News:
"Hello from the cracks in the sidewalks of NYC and from the ants that dwell in these cracks and feed in the dried blood of the dead that has settled into the cracks.
Hello from the gutters of NYC, which is filled with dog manure, vomit, stale wine, urine, and blood. Hello from the sewers of NYC which swallow up these delicacies when they are washed away by the sweeper trucks.
Don't think because you haven't heard [from me] for a while that I went to sleep. No, rather, I am still here. Like a spirit roaming the night. Thirsty, hungry, seldom stopping to rest; anxious to please Sam.
Sam's a thirsty lad. He won't let me stop killing until he gets his fill of blood. Tell me, Jim, what will you have for July 29? You can forget about me if you like because I don't care for publicity. However, you must not forget Donna Lauria and you cannot let the people forget her either. She was a very sweet girl.
Not knowing what the future holds, I shall say farewell and I will see you at the next job? Or should I say you will see my handiwork at the next job? Remember Ms. Lauria. Thank you.
In their blood and from the gutter-- 'Sam's creation' .44"
At the demand of the police, the following portion of the letter was omitted durring publication:
"Here are some names to help you along. Forward them to the Inspector for use by the NCIC [National Crime Information Center] Center. They have everything on computer, everything. They just might turn up, from some other crimes. Maybe they could make associations.
Duke of Death. Wicked King Wicker. The twenty-two Disciples of Hell. And lastly, John Wheaties, rapist and suffocator of young girls. P.S., drive on, think positive, get off your butts, knock on coffins, etc."
How do all these pieces fit together you ask? According to The Crime Library The pieces of the puzzle were falling together and this is how:"
"On June 10, a man named Jack Cassara, who lived in New Rochelle, found an odd get-well note in his mailbox from someone named Carr in Yonkers. The card included a picture of a German shepherd dog. It read: "Dear Jack, I'm sorry to hear about that fall you took from the roof of your house. Just want to say 'I'm sorry' but I'm sure it won't be long until you feel much better, healthy, well and strong: Please be careful next time. Since your going to be confined for a long time, let us know if Nann needs anything. Sincerely: Sam and Francis."
Cassara had not fallen off his roof nor had he ever met Sam and Francis Carr. He called them up and, discussing the odd situation, they agreed to meet at Carr's home that evening. The Carrs told the Cassaras about the strange letters they had received about their dog Harvey and how Harvey had been shot. Sam Carr told them about a German shepherd in the neighborhood that also had been shot.
Carr had his daughter, Wheat, a dispatcher for the Yonkers police, bring in officers Intervallo and Chamberlain to investigate, while Cassara had contacted New Rochelle police.
Later, Cassara's nineteen-year-old son Stephen drew an interesting conclusion. He remembered the odd guy, David Berkowitz, who had briefly rented a room in their house in early 1976. "He never came back for his two-hundred dollar security deposit when he left. Well, he was always bothered by our dog, too."
Nann Cassara, Jack’s wife, called the Carrs who promised that their daughter would have the Yonkers police act on that information. She also called the New Rochelle police, who waited some two months later to call her back. When they did contact her, she was sure that Berkowitz was the Son of Sam.
The detective mentioned that Craig Glassman, a deputy sheriff and neighbor of Berkowitz, had received an anonymous letter talking about a demon group composed of Glassman, Cassaras and the Carrs. All that proved, however, was that Berkowitz was a little strange, but not a killer and not the Son of Sam. Police are often confronted with odd, yet perfectly legal, behavior on the part of citizens, but cannot do much about it.
In the meantime, Chamberlain and Intervallo of the Yonkers police put Berkowitz's name into their computer and learned his address, the registration number of his Ford Galaxy and the fact that his license had just been suspended." - The Crime Library
Enough toying with the police...
On June 26, 1977 Berkowitz decided it was time to make another move and attacked a man and woman in a car out side a local disco. She later told of her experience by saying: "All of a sudden, I heard echoing in the car. There wasn't any pain, just ringing in my ears. I looked at Sal, and his eyes were open wide, just like his mouth. There were no screams. I don't know why I didn't scream. All the windows had been closed. I couldn't understand what this pounding noise was. After that, I felt disoriented, dazed."
The man ran into the disco for help, he had been shot in the arm. Judy Placido, the female victim, had recieved three gunshot wounds but would survive with no permanant dammage. Since Berkowitz's first victim was killed on July 29, 1976, police were worried about some kind of an annivesary killing and warned the whole city to be on high alert on and around that date. July 31, 1977. Two days after the anniversary, another couple was attacked. This time Stacy Moskowitz and Bobby Violante were the victims. Stacy died in the hospital due to a gunshot wound to the face and Bobby servived two shots to the head but lost all vision in one eye and only had 20% of his vision in the other. These would be Berkowitz's final victims.
Can't hide forever...
Two patrol cops decided to look into the leters recieved by Carr and Cassara. They determined that the writer of the letters, David Berkowitz, was a one time security guard turned cabbie. They looked into his lic. and determined that he fit the profile of the Son of Sam. A witness later came forward and gave police a discription of the man who could be the Son of Sam. She provided police with enough information to make the following sketch:
Photo and Sketch provided by CORBIS
Berkowitz finaly was captured due to a parking ticket violation. That's what gave him away. Not getting caught red handed, not being turned in by a confidont, a parking ticket. Durring the heat of the arrest, Berkowitz said calmly: "I am Sam. David Berkowitz."
"In 1979, Robert Ressler, the FBI veteran, interviewed Berkowitz in Attica Prison three times. Berkowitz had been allowed to keep a scrapbook he had compiled of all the newspaper stories about the murders. He used these scrapbooks to keep his fantasies alive.
Ressler made it clear that he didn't buy the demon dog theory one bit and eventually he was able to get the truth out of Berkowitz. The demon story was to protect him when and if he was caught so that he could try to convince the authorities he was insane. He admitted to Ressler "that his real reason for shooting women was out of resentment toward his own mother, and because of his inability to establish good relationships with women." He would become sexually aroused in the stalking and shooting of women and would masturbate after it was over.
He also admitted to Ressler that stalking women had become a nightly adventure for him. If he didn't find a victim, he would go back to the scenes of his earlier murders and try to recall them. "It was an erotic experience for him to see the remains of bloodstains on the ground, a police chalkmark or two: seated in his car, he would often contemplate these grisly mementos and masturbate." So murderers do return to the scene of the crime, not out of guilt, but because they want to revive the memories of their crimes for sexual pleasure.
He wanted to go to the funerals of his victims but was afraid that the police would become suspicious. However, he did hang around diners near the police stations hoping to overhear policemen talking about his crimes. He also tried unsuccessfully to find the graves of his victims.
Like many serial killers, he nourished his sick ego from the newspaper attention he received for his crimes. He got the idea of sending the letter to Jimmy Breslin from a book on Jack the Ripper. Ressler found out that "after the press started calling him Son of Sam he adopted the moniker as his own, and even fashioning a logo for it."- The Crime Library
David Berkowitz plead guilty and was sentanced to 365 years in jail. At his most recent parole hearing in 2002, Berkowitz showed alot of remorse for what he had done and expressed a desire not to leave his prison confinds, because he felt he did not deserve to be let into the outside world and that he was not done paying for what he had done. He realizes the measure of his actions and the pain he has caused. Berkowitz has since found God and is up again for parole in June of 2004. Berkowitz now resides in Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, N.Y.
David Berkowitz is a strange one. He claimed that he heard demons which made the story very interesting but later confessed to that being a hoax to make him sound insane, which is more logical. I feel that if Berkowitz had only paid his parking ticket and moved out of New York that no one would know his name, because this would be one of those strange unsloved misteries. I am glad he did fail to pay that ticket, and I'm sure he would have been caught eventually. Every time a serial killer pops up in a city, the story comes back up. David Berkowitz, The Son of Sam, ect. ect. I feel that Berkkowitz does not desire to be let out of prison and if he is released in 2004, I think he won't last long in the real world. He will either kill himself or someone will extract their own revenge.
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