David Richard Berkowitz, the self-proclaimed Son of Sam and christened by the media as the .44 Caliber Killer, is an American serial killer who pleaded guilty to eight separate shooting attacks that began in New York City during the summer of 1976.
I Am The Son of Sam
Before David Berkowitz was known as the Son of Sam, he was first given the moniker .44 Caliber Killer by the newspapers. The infamous Son of Sam only became known after he brutally slayed two teenagers sitting in a park car, leaving an ominous handwritten letter addressed to police.
Valentina Suriani was an 18-year-old in love. Her boyfriend Alexander Esau felt the same about her, and although the couple’s relationship was still growing, they both could see a future together. They could have never known that in the wee hours of Sunday morning April 17, 1977, their hopes for a future would soon be shattered, much like the passenger side window of the 1968 Mercury Montego they were parked in.
At 3 am sharp four shots rang out at 1873 Hutchinson, just one block from the safety of Valentina’s home.
One bullet entered Suriani’s neck (who was in the driver’s seat) killing her within the first minute. Alexander would have to wait nearly two hours for his death to set in after being shot three times in the temple and head. Alexander was in the passenger seat and the closest to the large caliber bullets that penetrated the car’s window.
Law enforcement, already expecting the illusive ‘.44 Caliber Killer’ to strike again, responded almost instantly. However, the killer had already moved on. To their defense, no one expected the killer to strike again only three blocks away from his first murder of Donna Lauria.
One patrolman noticed an envelope lying on the ground at the crime scene. Addressed to Captain Joseph Borelli of the Omega Task Force, who was to catch the city slayer, the four-page note read:
Dear Captain Joseph Borrelli,
I am deeply hurt by you 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 to 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 need 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 prettyiest of all. I must be the water they drink. I live for the hunt-my life. Blood for papa.
Mr. Borelli, 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 [the letter m was crossed out] 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, bank, gang - ugh!!
Yours in murder
Making of a Monster
Before the public knew David Berkowitz around the world as the Son of Sam, he was simply Richard David Falco. Berkowitz was completely unaware that he was abandoned by his birth parents. Born June 1, 1953, Falco would live a priveledged life to his adoptive parents, Nat and Pearl Berkowitz.
Despite his true last name Falco as being Italian, Berkowitz was actually born to a Jewish mother whose family immigrated from Poland and Austria. Betty didn’t want to give up her newborn David, but the man she was seeing, a Long-Island businessman named Joseph Kleinman, insisted the child be given away.
Luckily for little David, he was sent to a caring family who raised him under the best conditions they could.
From all accounts, David was close to his adoptive parents. This is clear by David’s reaction at Pearl’s funeral after she suddenly succumbed to breast cancer. An acquaintance and funeral attendee noted that David, “cried really hard at the funeral. I mean, he was really crying.”
David would only reunite with his biological mother and sister, Roslyn Falco, during the year of his murder spree.
After Pearl Berkowitz’s death, Nat and David moved to apartment 17 B at 170 Dresier Loop. They remained in this small apartment mourning the loss of Pearl until December 1975, when Nat suddenly moved to Florida after nearly being killed in an armed robbery attempt.
Fed up with the city and its crime Nat fled, leaving David alone and with no social support.
It was quickly after this move that David Berkowitz became known as both the “.44 Caliber Killer” and the “Son of Sam.”
David's First Victim
Donna Lauria’s friends considered her kind to others and serious about her career. Lauria worked for the Empire State Ambulance Service as a medical technician, but would hopefully soon would earn her paramedics’ license. It’s something she’s always wanted to do. Since she was a child and being born deaf, Donna wanted to help others like doctors had helped her to hear again.
It was 1:10 am on July 29, 1976, when David Berkowitz shot Lauria and her friend Jodi Valenti as they sat outside Donna’s apartment building at 2860 Buhre Avenue. Donna died within minutes of the large round penetrating the 1974 Cutlass Oldsmobile and then entering her neck.
Jodi Valenti was also hit, but the bullet in her thigh would not be fatal. It was the first time David Berkowitz killed anyone, and his aiming was not as accurate as it would become with his later victims.
The Howling of the Demon Dogs
While some accounts claim that David Berkowitz didn’t act alone, most of those familiar with the case believe David Berkowitz was struggling with severe mental health issues during the time of his murder spree.
While the true makeup of David’s broke psyche could fill a book, I will try to simplify his convictions that he was being targeted by Hell’s demonic forces.
When Berkowitz was living as a tenant in the home of Jack and Nann Cassara, he began hearing howls of what he considered “demon dogs”. These demon dogs (German shepherds mainly) were not just howling, but commanded David to kill.
David later stated about the dogs, “They looked like dogs, but they had many human qualities. They could talk. They acted human. But they weren’t. They weren’t human or dogs, either. They were demons. They began to howl things. Yell like maniacs. They threw tantrums. Strange things. It was vicious. Saliva used to drip down their mouths. They wanted to get at children, to tear them up. Young children!”
He believed that his own landlord Jack Cassara, a nice elderly man who was kind to David, was in fact “Jack Cosmo” the ultimate commander of the “Army of Demon Dogs” sent to infiltrate David’s thoughts.
It’s best to have David explain his ongoing hallucinations. “They called up to me from the yard. They came into my head. They told me what they were. Demons. Who Jack was, General Jack Cosmo, General of this region of demons. He wanted people to die. That’s it. Pretty simple. The demons needed blood. The feeling of killing innocent people. The feeling of killing and defying God. It is war. They’re still battling, still fighting. They need that blood. I never needed or wanted blood, but after I shot someone, the demons would move in and feast.”
Whether the story Berkowitz told police was actually true, we will never know, but we know that he soon escaped to a Yonker’s apartment, where only two blocks away lived the black labrador that would finally persuade him to carry out his mission.
Meeting Sam Carr
63-year-old Sam Carr lived at 316 Warburton Avenue. Carr was the proud owner of a telephone answering service and the proud father of 3 children, including a daughter he named Wheat.
Wheat worked as a Yonkers Police Dispatcher, and would later see her entire family identified by David as playing roles in the Son of Sam murders. Since these accusations, Wheat has threatened to sue Berkowitz on more than one occasion.
Sam Carr also owned a black labrador named Sam who David claimed would constantly speak to him from 2 blocks away through howling.
On May 16, 1976, Berkowitz, sick of the howling, filled an empty booze bottle with Red Devil Varnish Remover, which he then set ablaze, throwing it on the Carr property at the family dog.
The dog survived. David Berkowitz was now convinced that he could not run or hide from Satan’s Army and knew exactly what had to be done.
Carry out his orders of bloodshed.