Wednesday, August 8, 2012

David Berkowitz-the Son of Sam

David Berkowitz
The Son of Sam
The Terror Begins
The life of David Berkowitz, also known as The Son of Sam, has been exceedingly strange since the day of his birth. And the strangeness continues, and undoubtedly will continue until the day he dies…
On July 29, 1976 the Son of Sam saga began. Donna Lauria (18) and Jody Valenti (19) were sitting innocently in their car outside Lauria’s Bronx apartment when Donna noticed a man peering into the window. “Who is this guy? What does he want?” Donna never lived to hear her questions answered. David Berkowitz pulled his .44 caliber Charter Arms Bulldog out of a paper bag and fired 5 times into the car. Donna died immediately. Laurie survived the attack and was able to give the first vague description of a man that was soon to be known as the .44 caliber killer. Police surmised that the attack was a mob attack or possibly a simple case of mistaken identity.
On October 23, 1976 Carl Denaro (20), Rosemary Keenan had just returned from a party and were parked near Rosemary’s home , talking in Carl’s red Volkswagen Beatle. David approached the car, again from the passenger’s side, and fired 5 shots into the vehicle. Rosemary died instantly, Carl survived, recovering from a bullet wound to his head. At this point, a pattern had already begun to emerge. David Berkowitz struck out at women, most with long, flowing hair.
One month later, on November 26, 1976, Donna DeMasi (16) and Joanne Lomino (18) had just returned home in a bus after watching a move at a local theatre. They left the bus within a few blocks of Joanne’s house and began to walk the remaining distance home. One of them noticed a strange man following them but tried to pay him no attention. David finally closed the gap between him and the two woman and briefly addressed them with “Do you know where….” – he quickly pulled the .44 from underneath his jacket and fired several shots at the two women. In a strange aftermath, David emptied the remaining shots into a nearby house. Both women survived the attack, Donna being struck by a bullet that barely missed her spine. Joanne was not as lucky and unfortunately became a paraplegic from a bullet wound to her spine.
At this point, only a single bullet had been recovered so no link was made between the 3 incidents. Police had theorized a relationship but quietly dismissed the idea due to varying descriptions in he assailant.
On January 30, 1977 (conflicting sources place the event on 01/29) Christine Freund (26) and John Diel were sitting in John’s car (a Pontiac Firebird) after a night out at a bar. David fired 2 shots through the front windshield of the car. Christine died immediately. John survived and was able to offer police a description of the attacker.
A Serial Killer?
Detective Sergeant Joe Coffey noted that the weapon used on Christine was a large caliber gun. He tied this together with the Donna Lauria, Donna LaMasi, and Joanne Lomino incidents. Ballistics confirmed that a .44 Charter Arms Bulldog was the weapon (which was not a common handgun). Since police could find nothing to tie all of these victims together, they began to fear a serial killer was on the loose.
On March 18, 1977, police received the irrefutable proof that a dangerous killer was on the loose. Virginia Voskerichian (19), a Barnard College honor student was walking home from school on Dartmouth Street (in Queens) around 7:30pm when David approached from opposite direction. At the precise moment when they met, David pulled his .44 from his waist and fired directly at Virginia. She died immediately. Police made a perfect bullet match against the bullet obtained from the Donna Laurie incident and had a definite confirmation that their worst fears had been realized.

Victims Carl Denaro, Christine Freund, and Joanne Lomino
A witness to the event was able to give a accurate description of David Berkowitz – white male, 25-30 years old, 6 feet tall, medium build with dark hair. In fact, David actually spoke to the witness. As they passed, the witness recounted that David calmly spoke, “Hi mister”. In an unusual twist, police spotted David running away from the scene before the call came in. They were about to give chase when the report came in on the radio so they abandoned their plans and quickly moved to the scene of the crime instead.
With irrefutable proof of a manic serial killer, police held a press conference and released a description of the man. A special task force was put together on April 14, 1977 – Operation Omega, which would become the single largest operation ever mounted by the New York police. Led by Deputy Inspector Timothy J. Dowd, it would eventually involve over 300 detectives. and cost over $90,000 a day.
Son of Sam and the Media Frenzy
Three days after the formation of Operation Omega, the sixth attack occurred. Valentina Suriani (18) and Alexander Esau (20, a tow truck operator) were necking in Alexander’s car (a Mercury Montego) near the Hutchinson River in the Bronx area (only a block away from the Donna Laurie crime). At 3:00AM, a car pulled next to them and the ‘.44 caliber killer’ fired 2 shots at each victim. Valentina died immediately and Alexander died several hours later. A note was left at the scene which identified the .44 caliber killer as ‘Son of Sam’.
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. And for now I say goodbye and goodnight.
POLICE: Let me haunt you with these words:
I’ll be back! I’ll be back! To be interrpreted as – bang, bang, bang, bang – ugh!!
Yours in murder Mr. Monster.
With evidence collected thus far, including the above note, Dr. Martin Luber, former head of forensic psychiatry at Bellevue and 45 other psychiatrists were able to from a psychological profile of the Son of Sam. He was deemed a paranoid schizophrenic who may consider himself possessed with devil. He was suspected to be a loner with difficulty experienced during relationships (especially with women). With a description of this level, thousands of calls began flooding the New York Police.

Victims Jon Deil, Rovert Violante, Salvatore Lupo and Stacy Moskowitz
Two weeks later, on April 30, 1977, David Berkowitz continued his letter campaign. A note was sent to Jimmy Breslin, a reporter for the New York Daily news. The Daily News sat on the note for a few days, building suspension with short teaser articles, and then released it to the public on May 2. All copies of the Daily News sold out within an hour. The press continued rolling and by the end of the day over 1,116,000 copies were sold, a record that would not be beaten until the day of David Berkowitz’s arrest.
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
The Daily News withheld some portions of the letter at the insistence of the police (it mentioned the N.C.I.C – National Crime Information Center). The omitted passage read:
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.,PS : J.B please inform all the detectives working the slayings to remain. Drive on, think positive, get off your butts, knock on coffins, etc.
Cassara’s and the Carr’s
Our story takes a strange turn on June 10, 1977. Jack Cassara from New Rochelle received an odd note in the mail from ‘Carr in Yonkers’. Included with the letter was a picture of a German Shepherd dog.
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

Jack had no idea who Sam and Francis Carr were so he looked them up and gave them a call. Sam and Francis too were intrigued by the letter and agreed to meet with Jack and his son Stephen Cassara to discuss the event.
During the discussion and examination of the letter and picture, the Carr’s told Jack that they had a small dog who was shot and also of a German Shepherd that had also been shot in their neighborhood. Stephen Cassara, Jack’s 19 year old son, recollected that a strange guy, David Berkowitz, who had rented a room in their house in 1976, had a strange aversion to their dog. “He never came back for his two-hundred dollar security deposit when he left. Well, he was always bothered by our dog, too.” This stunned the Carrs when they realized that David Berkowitz had been a neighbor of theirs too – a neighbor who always complained about their barking dog and was the one person they highly suspected to be involved with the shooting of the animal.
The New Rochelle and Yonkers police were notified. Nann Cassara, Jack’s wife, drew the correct conclusion that David Berkowitz was the Son of Sam.
In an even stranger twist, one of the responding Yonkers officers remembered a deputy sheriff, Craig Glassman, was a neighbor of David Berkowitz’s. The name’s all came together because the officer recollected that Glassman had received an anonymous letter about a ‘demon group’ consisting of Glassman, the Cassaras, and the Carrs! Yonkers police reacted to this by pulling address and registration information on David Berkowitz. He drove a Ford Galaxy and they noted that his license was suspended…
On June 25, 1977 Judy Placido (17) and Salvatore Lupo (20) had just left the Elephas, a disco in Queens when Judy remarked “This Son of Sam is really scary. The way that guy comes out of nowhere. You never know where he’ll hit next.” And as Judy would later explain “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.” Sal was struck in the arm. Judy was shot 3 times. Both survived.

Victims: Valentina Surianai and Alex Sau, Virginia Voskerichian, and Donna Lauria
Police Put Together all the Clues
On July 29, 1977, exactly one year after the first incident, the New York police feared an anniversary killing. They anxiously waited and were relieved when all was quiet. But, 2 days later on July 31, 1977, Son of Sam struck for the last time. Stacy Moskowitz and Bobby Violante were parking at Gravesend Bay in Brooklyn around 1:45AM after seeing a movie together. Bobby suggested they go for a walk and Stacy reluctantly agreed. While walking they caught a glimpse of a man who quickly ducked between some parked cars. At Stacy’s insistence, they returned to their car. After returning to their car, Bobby convinced Stacy that everything was OK and they continued their date. “All of a sudden,” Bobby recalled, “I heard like a humming sound. First I thought I heard glass break. Then I didn’t hear Stacy any more. I didn’t feel anything, but I saw her fall away from me. I don’t know who got shot first, her or me.” Bobby was shot twice in the face. Stacy was shot once in the head. Stacy died 38 hours later in a New York hospital. Bobby survived the attack but was declared legally blind after losing his left eye and 80% of the vision in his right eye.
A witness to the incident, Cecilia Davis, gave police a eyewitness report that to some, seemed confusing. She reported seeing a VW Van speed away from the scene? She also told of seeing a man trying to hide, a man that she thought was concealing a gun. She gave a detailed description of the man but police were disappointed to hear that the description differed from the profile of David Berkowitz that they had already compiled. They practically discounted her story but did follow up on her insistence that there was a policeman in the area that night writing tickets on parked cars. A list of offenders who received tickets that night was compiled and among that list was a David Berkowitz, registered as 561-XLB, who lived at 35 Pine Street in Yonkers.
Meanwhile, on August 03, 1977, the Yonkers policemen who were involved with the Casssara and Carr letters, decided to do a little detective work on their own. After digging around in the police database they discovered that David Berkowitz fit the description of the Son of Sam. They even went as far as talking to David’s landlord who mentioned that David had once been a security guard – this led the two Yonker’s officers to the correct conclusion that David Berkowitz would have been familiar with guns. They passed this information on to their superior officer who in turned passed it along to the Omega Force.
Days later, a call arrive to the Yonkers police from a Deputy Sheriff, Craig Glassman about a suspected arson. Glassman, if you recall, was a neighbor of David Berkowitz whose name came up during the course of the Cassara and Carr letters incident. Craig told officers that a fire had been set outside his door and someone had dropped .22 caliber bullets into the flames. He recounted his suspicion about the neighbor that lived above him, David Berkowitz, who had already left threatening letters on his doorstep. One stated: “True, I am the killer, but Craig, the killings are at your command.”
It was at this point that Stan Carr became very angry and annoyed at the New York police for discounting his story of the strange letter, the shot dog, and his insistence that David Berkowitz was the Son of Sam. Sam stormed the New York Police station and went directly to the Omega Force team.
Finally, the Cecilia David ticket incident, Stan Carrs wild ascertains, Glassman’s weird run in with his neighbor, and the Carr’s/Cassara letter forced the police to consider David Berkowitz a prime suspect. They formed a surveillance of David’s home. At first they mistakenly apprehended a suspect whom they thought was about to enter David Berkowitz’s car – the suspect turned out to be David Glassman himself. Several hours later, David did come out of his home carrying a brown paper bag. As soon as he entered his car the police surrounded him and one officer quickly placed a gun to his head ordering him to freeze.
“Now that I’ve got you,” Falotico said, “who have I got?”
“You know” David replied
“No, I don’t. You tell me.” Falotico countered.
Still smiling, he answered, “I’m Sam. David Berkowitz.”

David Berkowitz freely confessed to all the murders, giving accurate details that only the real killer would have known. He seemed fascinated and pleased with all the attention he was receiving and offered no remorse for his crimes. David was found guilty and sentenced to 364 year in prison, a sentence he continues to serve at the Attica Correctional Facility. David had killed 6 people, blinded one, paralyzed one, and wounded 7.
After the arrest and subsequent trial, the bizarre tales of David’s life began to emerge…

Berkowitz – Old and Young
The Life of David Berkowitz
David was born on June 1, 1953. His parents, Nat and Pearl Berkowitz, adopted David at birth since they could not have children of their own. David grew up in the Bronx and was known to be a loner, hyperactive and sometimes violent. He was always rather large for his age and had the reputation for being a bully.
As far back as I can remember my childhood was not that of a normal child. It started when I was about five or six years old. I was completely uncontrollable. I would rampage through the house, sometimes overturning furniture. A tremendous force would come upon me and urge me to do destructive things to property or even to myself. Other times I would be in total silence to my parents and not respond to their outreaches of love. I would lock myself in the closet in the darkness and stay there for hours. I was depressed at times and my parents would have to pull me away from the window to keep me from committing suicide. I was a tormented child, always having psychological problems. School officials sent me to a child psychologist.
In 1967, Pearl Berkowitz died of cancer – David was 14 years old. He was raised by his father, Nat until 1971 when Nat remarried. Nat’s new wife was quite disturbed about David and soon Nat and his bride moved to Florida, leaving the 18 year old David on his own in the Bronx.
The lonely and confused David joined the Army that same year (1971) where he became an excellent marksman. It was said that David’s only sexual encounter occurred during his stay in the Army – an unfortunate flay with a Korean prostitute that resulted in David contracting a venereal disease. After serving his term he returned to the Bronx, still with no real direction.
It was at this time (in 1974) that David, who knew he was adopted, decided to track down his real parents. Using the Bureau of Records, he determined that his real name was Richard Falco. Looking through a phone book, by chance he found Betty Falco (Broder) and gave her a call. She eagerly agreed to talk to David and he soon learned of the events surrounding his birth.
Betty Falco was married to Tony Falco, the owner of a fish market, and had one child, Roslyn. Around 1953, Tony left Betty for another woman. The despondent Betty soon began an affair with a married man named Joseph Kleinman, an affair that resulted in Betty becoming pregnant. Joseph Kleinman agreed to care for Betty’s family but only if she gave up the child for adoption. Before David was even born, the adoption was arranged and immediately after his birth he was given his new name and handed over to the Berkowitz family.
Although David must have been quite disturbed to hear of the situation that revolved around his birth, he continued to visit Betty and Roslyn for a while (Joseph Kleinman had already passed away in 1965 from a bout with cancer). Gradually, during the course of 1975, they began to drift apart again until he no longer had any contact with them. This was shortly before the first crime and Josyln, David’s sister, was already becoming worried about David who frequently complained of massive headaches.
David’s disturbing behavior was beginning to take fruit:
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.
Shortly before the killings, David turned to arson as a way to vent his anger. His diary indicates he set over 1400 fires in New York during 1975. He also claims that during this period he attempted two (some sources indicated three) knife attacks against women. Both women survived. David indicated that his feelings at that time were of demons, harassing him through the continual barking of his neighbors dogs, ordered him to initiate these dastardly deeds
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.

Three months before the first murder, David moved to 35 Pine Street in Yonkers where he felt the demons followed him and continued their assault through the incessant barking of the neighbor’s dogs.
When I moved in the Cassaras seemed very nice and quiet. 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.
At last, David Berkowitz broke and his killing rampage began. Exhilarated by the attention he began receiving from the media, David experienced for the first time a sense of self respect. Finally, people were beginning to pay attention to the loner from the Bronx.
David claimed that he stalked women every night and if unsuccessful he would simply return to the scene of one of his previous crimes in order to ‘relive’ the experience. He indicated that he wanted to attend the funerals but was afraid he would be noticed (although he claims he did visit the graves). His letter writing campaign resulted from his reading of a Jack the Ripper book. Once the media penned the Son of Sam name, it stuck and he liked it so much that he even created a logo for it.
Berkowitz’s Life in the Aftermath
After the capture of Son of Sam, David proudly resolved that he would spend the remainder of his life behind bars. Even in prison the strange events continued – an attempt was made on his life. Although unsuccessful, the incident resulted in David receiving 56 stitches on his throat.
About 10 years into David’s prison sentence, when a prison inmate approached David with the prospect of religion being an outlet for his anger. As David explains:
There was a time back in 1987, one cold winter’s night, when I was in the prison yard. Another inmate walked up to me, introduced himself, and boldly told me that Jesus loved me and had a plan for my life. After he said those words I laughed at him and told him that there was no way God could love me. I told him I was too evil, that he was wasting his time. But this man had such a compassionate attitude, and I saw that he was really sincere. I cannot describe it. Let’s just say he had a special glow about him. One day he offered me a small pocket New Testament which included the Psalms. He urged me to read portions of it, especially the Psalms. Some nights I would peek into the Bible just to check it out. I had never read the Bible before. I started to read the Psalms for the first time in my life, and said to myself, “My God, these are some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever read. I began to cry like never before. I shut my light out, got down on my knees in the darkness, and began to pour out my heart to the Lord. This was all new to me. Feelings of grief and deep remorse welled up inside. I called upon the God of Israel and talked to Him as if He were right in the cell with me. I didn’t even know if God was listening. I just had to pray. And He heard my prayer.”
The police and the news media used to call me ‘The Son of Sam’, but God has given me a new name, ‘the son of Hope’, because now, my life is about hope.
The bizarre story of David Berkowitz continues today. Only time will foretell the end of this enigma.
Bizarre Footnotes
There are a couple of additional strange ancillary notes we can add to the Son of Sam story, as if things could get any more bizarre…
The demonic obsession David often spoke about has resulted in a few ‘conspiracy’ type theories. David claimed to have been involved in a Satanic cult, a claim that has yet to be confirmed. David himself has given conflicting accounts of this and at one time told FBI agent Robert Ressler that he conjured up the entire story in order to cop an insanity plea (which did not work). The possibility of the involvement of a cult has intrigued some. Rumors abound that the killing spree was not initiated by a single man, but rather by a group of people, as a part of some unknown ritual. Varying descriptions of the suspect seem to support this theory.
Finally, Sam Carr (the neighbor with the barking dog) himself supported this theory. Sam had a son named John ‘Wheaties’ Carr (mentioned in one of Berkowitz’s letters as one of the demons masters) who committed suicide in the late 70′s. The number ’666′ was carved on John’s hand and next to John’s lifeless body, scrawled in blood, were the letters S.S.N.Y.C., a acronym that Sam attributed to ‘Son of Sam, New York City’.

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