THE NIGHTMARE CLOSET

Movies, Music, and Nightmares

David Berkowitz

(Killings between 1976 and 1977)

Better known as the Son of Sam or the .44 killer, David Berkowitz is a New York City serial killer who killed six people and wounded many others. His crimes became famous because of his letters to the media and the police, and the reason he committed these crimes.

He was raised by middle-class parents in the Bronx and had what seems to have been a relatively normal childhood. He was pretty good at baseball, but also hyperactive and, some say, something of a neighborhood bully. His adopted mother died of breast cancer when Berkowitz was 14, and the boy and his father moved into a new apartment. Berkowitz joined the Army three days after graduating from high school. He was stationed in Korea and was honorably discharged after three years. Acquaintances say he went in a gung ho for military service but came back a dove.


Returning to civilian life, he worked briefly as a security guard. Later, he shifted into an apartment but was controlled by demons in his mind. His neighbor, Sam Carr, had a black Labrador who Berkowitz believed was possessed and he shot the dog. That did not provide any relief as he began believing that Sam Carr was possessed by the biggest demon, and perhaps Satan himself. Each night these demons told Berkowitz to kill and quench their thirst for blood. He also used to write weird letters to the police and media, with details of his killings.


On July 29, 1976, Jody Valenti, 19 and Donna Lauria, 18 were sitting in a car when David approached the car and looked in. He then shot Valenti in the thigh and Lauria in the neck. Valenti survived but Lauria did not. Thus began his thirteen-month reign of terror over the people in New York. His victims appeared to be random with both men and women being targets. Before being caught, he would kill six people and seriously injure seven more. On October 23, 1976, Carl Denaro, age 18 was shot in the back of his head while also sitting in a car. Denaro survived and his female companion wasn't injured. He struck again on November 26, 1976, when he shot two girls, Donna DeMasi 16 and Joanne Lomino 18 while they were also in their car. Both survived but Lomino was paralyzed for life. On January 29, 1977, he shot and killed Christine Freund, 26, while she sat in a car with her boyfriend. On March 8, 1977, he shot Virginia Voskerichian, 21 who died instantly. Not receiving the type of exposure he wanted, on April 16, 1977, David shot Alexander Esau 20 and Valentina Suriani 18. They had been necking in Esau's car when approached and each shot in the head, killing both. David left a letter at this murder scene signing himself as "Son of Sam." June 25, 1977, another couple was shot. Sal Lupo who was hit in the arm and Judy Placido, 17 who was shot in the neck, shoulder, and temple. Surprisingly they both lived. On July 30, 1977, the police finally had a clue as to the identity of the Son of Sam. Stacy Moskowitz 20 and Robert Violante 20, were both shot. Moskowitz was killed but Violante survived and was permanently blinded. A witness saw the killer leave the scene and get into a vehicle that had been given a parking ticket. Police traced the ticket and David Berkowitz was arrested on August 10, 1977, outside his Yonkers apartment. Police was surprised when he began confessing to the killings immediately. Looking for an insanity plea, David told investigators about the demons that told him to kill through the Carr's dog Harvey. In the end, the prosecution, the doctors that evaluated him nor the court believed he was insane and sentenced him to 365 years at Attica prison where he is now serving out his time.


"I didn't want to hurt them, I only wanted to kill them" ~David Berkowitz