David Berkowitz was born on June 1, 1953. His birth name was Richard David Falco. His mother, Betty Broder Falco, was born in 1914 and was raised in Brooklyn. She had an affair with her husband with a man named Joseph Kleinman, who eventually impregnated her with David. When he was told that she was pregnant, he told her to get rid of the baby. So when he was born, he was immediately put up for adoption. When he was a few days old he was adopted by Nathan and Pearl Berkowitz, a Jewish couple from the Bronx. They reversed the order of his given names and called him David, he would be their only child.
Not much is known about David's early childhood, but it is known that he was a solitary child. He enjoyed playing cowboys and indians, wargames, and other childhood games. He was a chubby kid, and got teased a lot for it. He was also very smart, in 1960, he was given an IQ test, and scored a 118, a 'superior' level. One of his elementary teachers described him as a 'moody child, very easily upset.' David loved to hide, his father gave him various nicknames for it too... example: Sneaky, Snoop, and Spy. David loved sneaking through the house, trying to be invisible.
By the time he was in the sixth grade, he'd stopped wanting to learn, and started doing petty vandalism, and breaking car windows. He also had started becoming a pyromaniac, setting and extinguishing small fires. He also was torturing and killing small animals at this time...one of which was his mothers pet parakeet.
In 1967 Pearl Berkowitz died of breast cancer. This was the second mother that he'd lost. He was 14 at the time and devastated by her death. When asked how he felt about her death years later he replied ' both happy and sad. It was freedom. She was a pest sometimes. She was nagging.' After 21 months of being a widower, Nathan Berkowitz moved David from his Bronx home to Co-op City, a high-rise apartment complex.
This is when he first wanted to join the army, he found the idea of institutional identity appealing. He became an auxiliary fireman and trained as an auxiliary policeman at the local 45th precinct.
In 1971, he suffered another psychological blow when his father decided to remarry. David now had a stepmother and a 25 year old step sister. This is when he joined the army. He enlisted because he wanted to 'die for a cause'. The Vietnam War was going on at the time, and he said he was 'fanatically patriotic'. But he eventually got stationed in Korea and never seen any combat. His attitude quickly changed, and it became to him not having much of a future in the army. He did learn one skill that he would use later in life though: the use of deadly weapons. He got the ranking of marksman, the basic designation for shooting proficiency. He had buddies in the military, but no close friends. His barracksmates called him Wolf on the count of all of his body hair. He would later brag about being with Korean prostitutes, and excessive experimentation with LSD, marijuana, mescaline, and amphetamines. But the truth seems to be that his main sexual activity throughout his entire life is masturbation. In January 1973 his unit was sent back to Fort Knox, Ky, and with the move, his military career seem to disappear. Also with the move, he had a spiritual rebirth, and began attending services at Beth Haven Baptist Church in Louisville and soon changed from a Jew to a Christian. In May of 1974 he took the ritual of full immersion in water and was baptized as a member of the congregation. This was the first time he felt as though he belonged somewhere. The passion for this eventually faded as well. In June 1974 he was given an honorable discharge from the army. He then went back to his family in Co-op City, but it didn't last to long. He was suspicious of his fathers new wife, and would snoop through her personal belongings.
His pyromania thoughts had returned at this time, and to his own accounting, between May 13, 1974 and his arrest in 1977, he set no less than 1,411 fires. He would leave detailed records of all the fires he set. The police found notebooks for them from 1974, 1975, and 1977, but they never found one for 1976. He would record them on grids that included the dates and times of the fires, the streets and boroughs in which they occurred, the numbers of the local fireboxes, and the fire department codes indicating the types of responding apparatus. Some of the fires were in empty lots, others in cars and some were major blazes that destroyed buildings.
In 1974 Nathan Berkowitz told David that he planned to move to Florida. His hardware store had been robbed, and he was tired of urban life. David would stay behind, losing his last sympathetic contact in the city. With his fathers help he moved into an apartment on Barnes Avenue in the Bronx, he was driving a Taxi, and he enrolled at Bronx Community College. After Nathan had moved to Florida, David decided to find his real father, so he joined an organization called ALMA, the Adoptee's Liberty Movement Association, which counsels and supports adoptees searching for their birth parents. Nathan and Pearl had told him his birth mother was dead, so he was surprised to hear that she was more than likely alive. David confronted Nathan about this and the truth finally was told to David: he was an accident, a mistake, never meant to be born-unwanted. He decided that he had to find this woman. He obtained an out-of-date phone book from 1965, and looked up Betty Falco, got the address, and called the operator, and to his surprise, she still lived at the same address, but had an unlisted number. So in May of 1975, almost Mother's day he bought a greeting card, and wrote the following: 'So, as once before/ We've been Destined/ To meet once more./ And I guess the time is now/ I should say hello-but how?/ Happy Mother's day!/ (You were my mother in a very special way.' He signed the card 'R.F.' for his birth name and then put the card in Betty Falco's mailbox. A few days later the phone rang and he had found his birth mother.
He arranged a meeting with his mother to meet in his half sister's apartment. His sisters name was Roslyn. When they met, his mother apologized for abandoning him at birth and reassured him that what his father told him about him being a mistake was wrong. For the next year David visited his mother and sister on weekends. On June 5, 1975, only a few weeks after reuniting with him family, he started lighting fires again. During the time he was looking for his family, he took a job as a security guard at John F. Kennedy Airport, working from midnight to 8 am. His company with him at this time was his guard dogs that he took on his rounds with him. He says this was when he first started hearing voices.
In November of 1975, he decided to write a letter to his father telling him of his miserable life that he had been living. It started out 'Dear Dad, 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 and they still 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.'
On Christmas eve 1975, he started to obey the voices. He drove to Co-op city with a knife tucked in his jacket, and attacked a woman from behind. It didn't kill her, only injuring her. She screamed, grappled with David for a few seconds, and him scared, ran to the car. There is no official record of this incident, just what David has said. The woman was either not injured seriously, or not cut to deep from the clumsy attack. 'I wasn't going to rob her, or touch her, or rape her. I just wanted to kill her.' David later says of the attack.
After that attack, he found a second chance. Michelle Forman was walking across a bridge when David pursued her and attacked her from behind. He took more stabs at her and she fell to the concrete. She survived the attack, while David fled to a diner and ate a big meal.
In 1976, David moved out of his apartment on Barnes Avenue. He left New York City entirely, and got an apartment at 35 Pine Street in Yonkers, this would be his last address before prison. Before Yonkers, he had an apartment in New Rochelle where he had met Jack Cassara, who would later *in Davids fantasy* be known as Captain Jack Cosmo, commander of the dog-demon army. At his Yonkers home, he met a man that lived close by named Sam Carr, 316 Warburton Avenue, who worked for General Jack Cosmo. Sam Carr was a 'high official of the Devil's legion'. He also met a man name Robert Neto who lived at 18 Wicker Street David saw him as Joquin, or the joker. The Joker was formerly the Number Two demon answering to General Jack Cosmo. Joquin shared a house with another prince of darkness known only as the Duke of Death. Next door, at 22 Wicker Street, was the home of the evil John Wheaties, who ran a sort of hotel for the demons that tortured David.
David believed that Sam Carr's dog was his master, and the evil forces sent their messages to kill through him. And thus led the to the murdering career of David Berkowitz. In the end David was caught when he was seen fleeing from the scene after he shot a couple. A woman saw a cop write a ticket for his car for parking next to a fire hydrant. The woman that seen him fleeing form the scene notified the police and he was apprehended the next day. When he was caught the only thing he said was 'You got me'. Sitting on the front seat of his car in a brown paper bag was the bulldog .44 caliber gun used in the shootings.