It’s early 1977, and New York is in a state of panic. For the past year, a serial killer has been prowling the streets. He owns no known name or face; the public cannot identify him. He could be someone’s next door neighbor or the guy that delivers their mail every morning. Maybe he’s the one who always complains about the barking dog down the street. Or maybe, just maybe, he’s all of the above. But for the state of New York, he’s simply known as the “.44 Caliber Killer,” named after his weapon of choice. Someone opens their newspaper that afternoon, they see the astonishing news: the killer has finally given himself a name in a letter written to police. The .44 Caliber Killer, whose true identity still will not be known by police for a couple more months, has declared that he shall be called the Son of Sam.
The Son of Sam, or David Berkowitz as it would eventually be revealed, had his debut on July 29, 1976. It was late at night, and two young women were talking in their car when, to their great surprise, David shot them both, killing one. Since it was the first of the attacks, police assumed it was a random isolated incident (Newton 16). When the killer continued to strike, usually shooting at young women or couples in the middle of the night, the public began to notice a pattern. In an attempt to protect themselves from being the serial killer’s next target, many females “cut their hair, wore hats to hide it, or routinely wore it up” since it appeared that his targets usually were “women with long, brown hair” (Cannon).
Apparently attempting to taunt them, the Son of Sam began writing letters to newspapers and police. This prompted New York Daily News journalist Jimmy Breslin to comment that the Son of Sam was “the only killer who could wield a semicolon as well as he could a handgun” (Dodenhoff 9). Officials were not able to trace the letters back to the sender, but they were able to get some valuable insight into the mind of the Son of Sam. Part a letter written from Berkowitz to NYPD Captain Borelli read as follows: “POLICE- LET ME HAUNT YOU WITH THESE WORDS; I’LL BE BACK! I’LL BE BACK! TO BE INTERPRETED AS - BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG, BANG - UGH!! YOURS IN MURDER MR. MONSTER.” After careful analysis of this letter, as well as others, psychiatrists announced that they believed the killer may have a form of paranoid schizophrenia (Blanco).
Finally, on July 31, 1977, just over a year after his first shooting, David Berkowitz killed for what would be the last time. A witness came forward and said that she saw someone get in their car and drive off shortly after the shooting that morning. The witness also recalled one important piece of information: a parking ticket on the car. Police traced parking tickets given out in the area on that day, and one of them belonged to postal worker David Berkowitz, who was already under suspicion. Upon searching his vehicle, a Ford Galaxy, they immediately saw part of a machine gun as well as...