David Berkowitz is currently serving six life sentences totalling 365 years at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in the Catskill Mountains for the shooting deaths of six people and the injury of seven others from 1976-77. Also known as the Son of Sam and the .44 Killer for his use of a .44 calibre Bulldog pistol, David is a serial killer who believed himself to be ordered by his former neighbour's dog, who was possessed by demons, to kill, and that all dogs were possessed by demons capable of speaking only to him.

David Berkowitz was born on June 1, 1953 and was immediately given up for adoption by his single mother. He was adopted by Nat and Pearl Berkowitz, and lived in the Bronx until 1965 when he learned his adoptive mother had breast cancer. Upon her death in 1967, David began to perform poorly in school and his faith in Judaism became shaken. When David's adoptive father remarried when David was 18, he moved to a retirement community with his new wife, leaving David alone to drift.

Later that year, David joined the US Army for a three year stint where he had his only sexual contact with a woman, a Korean prostitute who gave him a venereal disease. During this time he found his real mother, but the relationship ended as David became more introverted.

In November of 1975, David wrote his father in Florida:
"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."
In 1976, David moved to his home on Pine Street in Yonkers, New York, from where he would conduct most of his murders.

  • July 29, 1976 - Donna Lauria, 18 years old, shot in the neck and arm, dead on arrival at hospital; Jody Valente, 19 years old, shot in thigh, survived. Shots fired: 5.
  • October 23, 1976 - Rosemary Denaro, 18 years old, not shot; Carl Denaro, 20 years old, shot in back of skull once, survived. Shots fired: 5.
  • November 27, 1976 - Joanne Lomino, 18 years old, shot in lower spine, paralyzed from waist down, survived; Donna DeMasi, 16 years old, shot in neck, survived. Shots fired: 5.
  • January 30, 1977 - John Diel, 30 years old, uninjured; Christine Freund, 26 years old, shot once in head, died in hospital. Shots fired: 3.
  • March 8, 1977 - Virginia Voskerichian, 19 years old, shot in head once at point blank range, died instantly. Shots fired: 1.
Ballistics tests showed the same gun was used to kill Christine Freund and Virginia Voskerichian. Operation Omega, a task force designed to catch the newly dubbed .44 Killer, was created in April of 1977 and headed by Timothy Dowd.
  • April 17, 1977 - Valentina Suriani, 18 years old, shot twice in head, died instantly; Alexander Esau, 20 years old, shot twice in head, died two hours later. Shots fired: 4.
An envelope was left at the scene of the murder addressed to Joe Borelli, deputy of Timothy Dowd. The text of the letter can be read at Letter: Son of Sam to Joseph Borrelli.

A second letter was sent to Jimmy Breslin of the New York Daily News on April 30, 1977, and was printed several days later. The text of the letter can be read at Letter: Son of Sam to Jimmy Breslin.
On the night of the final murder, Cacilia Davis was dropped off from work near the park where the killings took place at about 2:00 AM. She noticed Berkowitz's yellow Ford Galaxie parked next to a fire hydrant, and saw Berkowitz approach the car and remove a ticket. When her friend left fifteen minutes later, Berkowitz almost hit his car with his Galaxie.

Several minutes later while walking her dog, Davis encountered a man near the park wearing a denim jacket and apparently carrying something up his sleeve. He looked like the man who had been driving the Ford Galaxie.

After the murders occurred, two witnesses saw a Volkswagen Bus speed away, and one witness was able to describe the driver the same person Cacilia Davis saw. Two days later, Davis came forward with her story, and ten days later, police located the parking ticket that pointed to David Berkowitz.

In the glove box of Berkowitz's car was a letter addressed to Timothy Dowd of the Omega Team put together to catch Berkowitz. Assured of his guilt, police arrested Berkowitz six hours later as he left his apartment. He immediately admitted to the killings and subsequently pleaded guilty to all charges against him.

The investigation into the Son of Sam killings cost 90,000 dollars per day, involved 300 detectives, and 3,000 suspects.

Berkowitz was interviewed three times in 1979 by Robert Ressler of the FBI. He eventually admitted that his stories of dogs being possessed by demons were lies and "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." After the killings, Berkowitz would masturbate and return to the scene of the crime to masturbate again. He rescinded all stories regarding Satanic possession.

David Berkowitz is now a born again Christian and has dedicated his life to god. He started an outreach ministry in prison and a letter writing ministry. In an ironic twist, since his conversion he has claimed that Satanic forces were indeed at work against him during his early life and at the time of the killings. Friends of David help maintain a website for him at http://www.inetworld.net/hutrcc/davidb.htm.

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