David Berkowitz was born on June 1st, 1953, and was adopted by Nathan and Pearl Berkowitz. David was devastated when, at age 14, his mother died. David had been closer to his mother than he was to anyone else in his life, and losing her nearly broke him. David was not ready for his father to get remarried when he wed a woman with a daughter of her own.
David joined the army, specializing as a sharp-shooter, and we returned home in '74, he denounced his Judaism, pulling away from his family.
On July 29, 1976 the first attack came from the man the press dubbed the ".44 Caliber Killer". The pattern quickly began to emerge: the victim(s) were approached at night, and without a word, the killer fired. A .44 caliber slug was removed from each scene.
Panic began to spread throughout New York when women began to believe that their hair color was a factor in becoming a target. The victims had all had long, dark hair. Women all around the killer's hunting ground began to dye their hair blonde and cut it short. Beauty Supply stores could not keep blonde wigs in stock.
Just when New York was truly gripped by fear, the killer came forward to speak for himself. A letter was found at a crime scene.
Police quickly destroyed any physical evidence by passing the letter from hand to hand. In the letter, the killer identified himself as the son of Sam, and stated that "I feet like an outsider. I am on a different wave length then everybody else--programmed to kill."
The media quickly picked up the new nickname, and killer became the "Son of Sam."
After a murder in Brooklyn on July 31, 1997, Berkowitz took a parking ticket off of his windshield and threw it into a gutter. A witness could match him to the composite sketch made by surviving victims, and the ticket could trace the car back to Berkowitz.
Police found Berkowitz's apartment and arrested him. Along with the now well-known .44 caliber revolver, authorities found other firearms in his scarcely furnished dwelling. On the wall, police were startled to find the following message scrawled near a hole in the wall:
Hi. My Name Is MR WiLLiAMs ANd I Live iN this hoLe. I have seveRaL childreN who IM TURNiNg Into KilleRs..WAIT TiL they gRow up.
Berkowitz himself was equally eccentric. When the initial interview took place, he was cooperative, almost enthusiastic, and the interview only took half an hour to complete.
The ex-auxiliary policeman, current postal worker, told authorities that he was being controlled by demons. In particular, he believed that his 7,000-year-old neighbor, Sam Carr, and Carr's 5,000-year-old dog were causing him to commit murder. When questioned, Carr reported receiving a threatening letter, and having his dog, a black Labrador, shot. The dog survived, and Berkowitz took that as evidence that the dog was, in fact, a devil.
The defense knew that Berkowitz would never get a fair trial in New York, but efforts to have the trial moved failed.
In the end, Berkowitz plead guilty and was sentenced for 6 murders (he also wounded 8, one of whom is now blind) to 365 years in prison.
Berkowitz was assumed to be a paranoid schizophrenic, sending fear through the country, heightening the stigma of mental illness. It is now believed, however, that Berkowitz has never had a schizophrenic episode, and has never been treated for the illness.
David Berkowitz is now a Messianic Jew, following the teachings of Christ, and became eligible for parole for the first time in 2002.
After Berkowitz's trial, New York passed the "Son of Sam Statute" that would allow victims to sue for profits from books, movies, etc. made about their attacker, or family member's killer. The statute was later over-turned.
New Yorks Daily News set a record for paper sales during the hunt for the Son of Sam.
Thanks to site visitor Bella for some of the information contained in this article!
Link of interest: (Berkowitz talks about "muderabilia") http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/2020/2020_011107_murderabilia.html