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David Berkowitz - Son of Sam


Biographical Information

Early Life
David Berkowitz entered this world as an unwanted result of an extramarital affair.  Berkowitz's mother, Betty Broder, had a daughter from her previous marriage to Tony Falco, who left her for a younger woman.  Struggling as a single parent Broder began an affair with a married man named Joseph Kleinman.  When Kleinman learned of Betty's pregnancy he refused to pay child support and claimed he would desert her if she kept the baby.  Broder arranged for Nat and Pearl Berkowitz to adopt her son prior to his birth on June 1, 1953.  Growing up in the Bronx, David was a relatively normal child despite his loner personality and what neighbors describe as a violent streak.  Pearl and Nat looked past their only son's solitude, for they were not socially oriented people themselves and showered David with love and attention.  However, Berkowitz's life came to a crashing halt when Pearl lost her battle with breast cancer in 1967.  Following his mother's death David became more introverted, his grades dropped dramatically, and he claimed her passing away was part of some plan to destroy him.  In 1971 Nat Berkowitz remarried and moved to Florida, leaving David alone to delve deeper into a fantasy life.  A few months after his father moved south, Berkowitz joined the army and acquired great skill with guns, particularly rifles.  At one point David found his birth mother, but quickly drifted away her and his biological sister. By 1974, at the age of 21, David Berkowitz was full of rage and began his career as a violent criminal.

After being discharged from the army in 1974 for disciplinary problems, David set 1,488 fires in the city of New York and kept a detailed account of each one in his diary.  His mental capacity deteriorated further in 1975 and around Christmas of that year he turned to psychiatrists claiming that he was giving into the demons that tormented him.  Christmas David's murder spree began and with a hunting knife in hand he cruised the neighborhood for females.  His first attempt at murder, Berkowitz stabbed a woman in front of grocery store, but she escaped.  The same night he crept up on fifteen-year-old Michelle Forman who also survived the attack, but had six serious wounds.  Supposedly the demons had told him these women needed to be sacrificed and to Berkowitz tried to appease them.  Getting back to his normal day-to-day existence, David ironically returned to his job as a security guard and moved to a two-family home in Yonkers owned by Jack Cassara, who owned a blaring German Shepard.  In David's unbalanced head the demons had taken residence with the neighborhood dogs and they were demanding him to kill for the blood of pretty young girls.  Three months after moving in David packed up and moved to an apartment on Pine Street next to Sam Carr.  The demons returned to haunt Berkowitz via Carr's black Labrador, Harvey.  After an unsuccessful attempt at poisoning Harvey, David shot the dog.  In Berkowitz's twisted fantasy world Jack Cassara had taken on the identity of General Jack Cosmo, commander of the devil dogs, and now Sam Carr was the host of a demon named Sam who worked for Cosmo.  He began to call himself "Son of Sam," referring to the devil within Sam Carr.  David true quest for blood began on July 29, 1976, when two girls, Jody Valenti, 19 and Donna Lauria, 18, were sitting in a car parked in front of Donna's Bronx home. Berkowitz emerged from his car and walked toward the girls carrying a brown paper bag. As he approached the unsuspecting girls he pulled the .44 from the bag and fired into the car, killing Donna and wounding Jody. Through the fall of 1976 and early part of 1977 Berkowitz terrorized New York City killing six people and injuring seven, bringing the total number of victims to 15 (including the two previous attempted murders). 

       By March of 1977 investigators were positive they were dealing with a serial killer.  Bullets from Berkowitz's 6th attack matched those from the first killing in July of 1976.  A main key to the case of the Son of Sam killer was a note dropped at the scene of a double killing, which closed with the phrase "I'll be back, I'll be back," and was signed "Son Of Sam."  Berkowitz sent Sam Carr two letter complaining about his dog's incessant barking and in the second letter he threatened Carr's life, a week after that, the dog was shot.  Berkowitz also sent a letter to Craig Glassman, a male nurse and part-time sheriff's deputy, who he described as one of a group of demons along with the Cassaras and the Carr. The breakthrough in the case, however, was a parking ticket issued to a 24-year-old postal clerk named David Berkowitz for parking near a fire hydrant close to the crime scene where he killed 20-year-old Stacy Moskowitz and blinded her date Robert Violante. When Police located Berkowitz's car at his Yonkers apartment building they found a duffel bag full of guns behind the front seat. On August 10, 1977, Berkowitz was apprehended when he came out of his apartment carrying a . 44-caliber revolver in a small paper bag. In April 1978, Berkowitz pleaded guilty to six murders and was sentenced to 365 years in prison. He told investigators that the name Son Of Sam was inspired by Sam Carr's dog. Berkowitz claimed that the dog's barking told him to kill.  Currently serving in Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York, where he has be noted for good behavior, his role as a chaplain's clerk, his completion of a 2-year degree from the state university, his completion of other prison rehabilitation programs, but most importantly Berkowitz expresses great remorse for his crimes.  Despite his upright activities, Berkowitz was denied parole at his first parole hearing on July 9, 2002.

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Last revised: October 03, 2002.


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