This Thursday, August 11, will be the fortieth anniversary of the arrest of David Berkowitz, a.k.a. the Son of Sam, a.k.a. the .44 caliber killer. From July 1976 to July 1977, Berkowitz shot at fifteen individuals, killing six of them. He also allegedly stabbed a couple of women on December 24, 1975. The murders he carried out, along with the letters sent to the police and the press (in which he used the name “Son of Sam”) resulted in widespread fear throughout New York City. Berkowitz was arrested because when he drove away from the scene of his final attack on July 31, 1977, a witness reported seeing a parking ticket on the windshield of his car.
When the NYPD looked through the parking tickets issued on that day, they found Berkowitz’s name among them, but originally thought of him as a potential witness instead of a suspect. Only when the Yonkers Police Department (who were assisting in the investigation) suspected Berkowitz due to him being involved in a series of crimes in Yonkers did the NYPD realize that they had their man.
A search of Berkowitz’s vehicle (due to the detectives’ seeing a rifle in the back seat) revealed a duffel bag full of ammunition, maps of the crimes, and a letter addressed to one of the investigators. The detectives then waited for Berkowitz to come out from his apartment building while a search warrant for his apartment had been requested. When Berkowitz did emerge from his apartment building and enter his car, detectives approached from both sides of the vehicle and arrested him. A subsequent search of Berkowitz’s apartment revealed Satanic graffiti and a series of diaries in which he claimed to have committed a series of arsons, supposedly ranging from in the hundreds to over 1,400.
Berkowitz claimed he was told to go out and kill people via a demon that had possessed a dog named Harvey, whose owner was a former neighbor named Sam Carr (which in turn led Berkowitz to use the name “Son of Sam” in his letters). Berkowitz further stated that whenever Harvey barked at him, the demon had demanded the blood of young girls.
Berkowitz also claimed to have been involved in a Satanic cult, and that other members of the cult were involved in the killings, including John and Michael Carr, who were the sons of Sam Carr (hence Son of Sam again). Although Berkowitz later retracted this claim, some people did believe Berkowitz did not act alone, not only because of the alleged satanic cult activities but also due to witnesses giving various descriptions of the suspect at each shooting. So far there has been no hard evidence to support these claims. Berkowitz also retracted the claims of Harvey being demonically possessed, and that the crimes were revenge for being rejected by the world (particularly women).
Berkowitz, who had been sentenced to life in prison, is now a born-again Christian. Whether or not he was the lone gunman is still a mystery.
Image: By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39082375