Son Of Sam

.. anyone else. Maybe a little neurotic.Ultimately, it didn’t matter because David Berkowitz pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 365 years in jail. In 1979, Robert Ressler, the FBI veteran, interviewed Berkowitz in Attica Prison three times.

Berkowitz had been allowed to keep a scrapbook he had compiled of all the newspaper stories about the murders. He used these scrapbooks to keep his fantasies alive. Ressler made it clear that he didn’t buy the demon dog theory one bit and eventually he was able to get the truth out of Berkowitz. The demon story was to protect him when and if he was caught so that he could try to convince the authorities he was insane. He admitted to Ressler that his real reason for shooting women was out of resentment toward his own mother, and because of his inability to establish good relationships with women.

He would become sexually aroused in the stalking and shooting of women and would masturbate after it was over. He also admitted to Ressler that stalking women had become a nightly adventure for him. If he didn’t find a victim, he would go back to the scenes of his earlier murders and try to recall them. It was an erotic experience for him to see the remains of bloodstains on the ground, a police chalkmark or two: seated in his car, he would often contemplate these grisly mementos and masturbate. So murderers do return to the scene of the crime, not out of guilt, but because they want to revive the memories of their crimes for sexual pleasure.

He wanted to go to the funerals of his victims but was afraid that the police would become suspicious. However, he did hang around diners near the police stations hoping to overhear policemen talking about his crimes. He also tried unsuccessfully to find the graves of his victims. Like many serial killers, he nourished his sick ego from the newspaper attention he received for his crimes. He got the idea of sending the letter to Jimmy Breslin from a book on Jack the Ripper. Ressler found out that after the press started calling him Son of Sam he adopted the moniker as his own, and even fashioning a logo for it. This story is repeated time after time in every city experiencing the attacks of a serial killer.

The demands of the citizens to know what is happening is balanced against the reality that feeding these demands for information virtually ensures that the killer will keep on killing. Legitimate police work is seriously hampered by a deluge of bogus tips from well-meaning citizens. The only party that benefits from this common problem is the media. Capture On August 3, 1977, several days after the attack on Stacy Moskowitz and Bobby Violante, the two Yonkers cops, Chamberlain and Intervallo, talked about the bizarre letters received by the Carrs and Cassaras and the shooting of the two dogs — Carr’s Labrador and the Wicker Street shooting of a German shepherd. They were concerned that if they started to investigate this David Berkowitz, it would look as though they were trying to do the work of detectives rather than the patrolmen that they were. They proceeded cautiously and queried the state computer network about Berkowitz.

The computer gave a brief profile of him from his driver’s license. Berkowitz appeared to be approximately the same age, height and build as the Son of Sam, as described by various witnesses. The patrolmen talked to the rental agent of the building at 35 Pine Street, Berkowitz’s place of residence. All she could tell him was that he paid his rent on time and that he wrote on his rental application that he worked at IBI Security in Queens. That sparse information indicated that Berkowitz probably had some knowledge of guns if he worked for a security company. Next, they called IBI and found out that Berkowitz quit in July of 1976 to go work for some cab company.

The first Son of Sam murder was in July of 1976. Between the two of them, they called a couple hundred cab companies based in the Bronx area. None of them employed Berkowitz. However, hundreds of other cab companies operated in the Greater New York area. Calling them all seemed insurmountable. The two policemen were certain that they were on to something, however, and confided in their boss who was impressed with the information they had collected. He urged them to talk to New York City Detective Richard Salvesen. They showed Salvesen all the letters.

The latter was favorably impressed and agreed to pass on the information to the Omega task force. Another development in the case occurred a couple of days after the Moskowitz-Violante shooting. Mrs. Cacilia Davis, an attractive middle-aged Austrian immigrant, reluctantly came forward with the claim that she had seen the man who shot the couple. Detective Joe Strano went to see her at her home on Bay 17th Street, a block from the scene of the shooting. Davis told Strano that she came home in the early morning hours and had to walk her dog Snowball. She thought a man was following her.

..he looked like he was trying to hide behind a tree. But the tree was too small, too narrow. He stood out. He kept staring in my direction…Then he began walking in my direction, smiling a peculiar smile. It wasn’t anything sinister, just a friendly kind of smile, almost. When she got a closer look at him,she thought that he had a gun concealed in his hand.

I was frightened. I walked into my house and began to slip off Snowball’s collar. Just then I heard pops, or something that sounded like firecrackers. They were kind of loud, but far off. I didn’t think too much of it at the time. The next morning..there were crowds of people at Shore Road.

It was then that I learned what happened the night before. Suddenly I realized that I must have seen the killer. I panicked, and I couldn’t say anything… I would never forget his face until the day I die. It was frightening. There was some initial skepticism about whether Davis had seen the killer.

Her description of what he wore was at odds with another likely eyewitness who had been parked near Bobby Violante’s car. Doubts increased when Davis claimed that at the time of the murder, there were officers giving out parking tickets in front of her building. This information was very much at odds with the information that Strano got from the police on duty that night, who claimed that they did not write any tickets at that time in that area. Davis was adamant. Her boyfriend decided not to escort her to the door because he saw the cops writing tickets, she insisted. She described the two patrolmen to Strano.

Two names came up that checked out with Davis’s description. Sergeant Jimmy Shea began to follow up on the matter. In the meantime, things seemed to be popping all over. Officer Chamberlain of the Yonkers PD responded to a call about a suspected arson at Berkowitz’s apartment house at 35 Pine Street. The call had been made by Craig Glassman, a male nurse and part-time sheriff’s deputy.

(Glassman had been the fellow descibed in Berkowitz’s letter as one of a group of demons along with the Cassaras and the Carrs.) Glassman explained what happened: I smelled the smoke and ran to the door. When I opened it the fire was almost out..It probably never got hot enough to set the bullets off. He showed Chamberlain the .22 caliber bullets that had been put into the fire outside his door. Then Glassman showed them the squirrelly letters he had received from Berkowitz, who lived just above him. The handwriting looked identical to the letters that the Carrs had received. That same afternoon, Sam Carr, still upset over the shooting of his dog and what he saw as non-action by the police, independently pursued the matter with the Omega Task Force.

He drove down to the police station where the task force was headquartered. Not much happened when Sam Carr related his story of the shootings of the dogs, the weird letters, the eccentric David Berkowitz. The task force had been inundated for many months with leads by people who spoke as passionately as Sam Carr. They put the information in a folder of level two priorities and forgot about it — for a little while. The fact was, despite the subsequent excuses, Sam Carr had just handed them the name of the killer and they sat on it.

Two days later, August 8, Chamberlain and Intervallo called Detective Salvesen to tell him about the Craig Glassman event and the letters that Glassman had received. One of the letters was amazingly confessional: True, I am the killer, but Craig, the killings are at your command. Salvesen promised to inform the task force immediately, but the information didn’t get to the task force for days. In the meantime, several traffic tickets that had been written the night of the shooting, outside witness Davis’ apartment, were at last found. All but one were investigated and yielded nothing. One final ticket was yet to be investigated — one belonging to a Yonkers man named David Berkowitz.

Detective Jimmy Justus called the Yonkers Police Department and talked to Wheat Carr, the daughter of Sam Carr, who had lost her dog. She gave him a real earful about David Berkowitz and everything her father had tried to impress upon the police days earlier. Officer Chamberlain called Justus shortly afterwards and told him everything he knew. They compared notes. Then after the Carr family and officers Chamberlain and Intervallo had connected all the dots repeatedly for the New York City Police, the latter were more than anxious to go in for the collar and the glory that went with it. On August 10, Shea, Strano, William Gardella and John Falotico put 35 Pine Street under surveillance. The number of cops grew as everyone wanted to be in on the arrest.

Just after 7:30 P.M., a heavy-set Caucasian male walked out of the apartment building and seemed to head towards Berkowitz’s Ford Galaxy. The police started to close in on him. Falotico pulled his gun and stopped the man. David, stay where you are, he warned him. Are you the police? the man wanted to know.

Yes. Don’t move your hands. It was not David Berkowitz, but Craig Glassman, the part-time deputy sheriff who realized that these men surrounding him were not the Yonkers police but New York City’s finest. Glassman figured it out fast that Berkowitz was a suspect in the Son of Sam murders. Several hours later another figure emerged from the apartment building, carrying a paper bag.

The man was heavy with dark hair and he walked slowly toward the Ford Galaxy. This time, the police waited for the man to get into the car and put the paper bag on the passenger seat. Let’s go! Falotico yelled and the officers advanced. The man inside did not see the approaching figures. Gardella came from the rear of the car and put the barrel of his gun against the man’s head. Freeze! he yelled.

Police! The man inside the car turned around and smiled idiotically at them. Falotico gave him very explicit instructions to slowly get out of the car and put his hands up on the roof. The man obeyed, still smiling. Now that I’ve got you, Falotico said, who have I got? You know, the man said politely. No, I don’t. You tell me.

Still smiling his moronic smile, he answered, I’m Sam. David Berkowitz. Bibliography Bibliography This feature story is taken primarily from the following sources: Lawrence D. Klausner’s very good book entitled Son of Sam (McGraw-Hill, 1981), the New York Times, and the New York Post. Other sources were: Abrahamsen, David, Confessions of Son of Sam. Breslin, Jimmy and Dick Schaap, .44 (novel based on the Son of Sam murders).

Leyton, Elliott, Hunting Humans; Inside the Mind of Mass Murderers. Terry, Maury, The Ultimate Evil. Terry believes that the Son of Sam murders and other high-profile crimes involve a Satanic cult called the Process Church. Ressler, Robert K. and Tom Shachtman, Whoever Fights Monsters: My Twenty Years Tracking Serial Killers for The FBI. Creative Writing.