David Richard Berkowitz (born Richard David Falco; June 1, 1953), known also as the Son of Sam and the .44 Caliber Killer, is an American serial killer who pled guilty to eight separate shooting attacks that began in New York City during the summer of 1976. The crimes were perpetrated with a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver. He killed six people and wounded seven others by July 1977. As the number of victims increased, Berkowitz eluded the biggest police manhunt in the history of New York City while leaving letters that mocked the police and promised further crimes, which were highly publicized by the press. The killing spree terrorized New Yorkers and achieved worldwide notoriety.
There are 13 Bizarre Facts About David Berkowitz, AKA The Son of Sam
1- Among Berkowitz’s many stated reasons for why he committed his crimes, one stands out – he once claimed that his neighbor’s dog contained the soul of a 6,000 year old man named Sam. “He told me [to kill] through his dog, as he usually does,” David wrote.
2- After his incarceration, Berkowitz became a born-again Christian – but not just any born-again Christian. He now claims that Satan and God are at war over his soul, and a group of Christian believers holds him up as proof that even the most apparently evil people can be saved. In fact, some call him an “apostle,” comparing him to the Biblical Paul, who was also a murderer before being saved
3- Although the Hall and Oates album containing the song “Rich Girl” didn’t come out until roughly a month after Berkowitz started killing, he still claimed to be influenced by the lyrics
4- Berkowitz started out his criminal career as an arsonist. He set a reported 1,488 fires in New York City and dutifully recorded each one in his journal – all before he ever killed his first victim.
5- After killing Alexander Esau and Valentina Suriani on April 16, 1977, Berkowitz left a letter near their bodies. It was addressed to “Captain Joe Borelli of Operation Omega”and in it, he claimed to be “the Son of Sam.” This new moniker stuck with him as Berkowitz continued his killing spree.
6- For reasons that are still not completely understood, Berkowitz targeted young women in their 20s that had long, dark hair. This might have something to do with his only known sexual encounter – with a Korean prostitute who gave him VD. After his victim profile made the news, many women in the New York City area cut their hair and dyed it other colors in order to ensure their safety.
Berkowitz later said, “I was literally singing to myself on my way home, after the killing. The tension, the desire to kill a woman had built up in such explosive proportions that when I finally pulled the trigger, all the pressures, all the tensions, all the hatred, had just vanished, dissipated, but only for a short time.”
7- Berkowitz targeted couples in cars. He once stated that, “The girls call me ugly and they bother me the most.” It is believed that he was jealous of the couples, since he had a hard time attracting and dating women. He targeted three different couples during his killing spree; in most cases, wounding one and injuring the other.
8- After a several psychiatrists analyzed a letter than he had left near his victims, they believed that Berkowitz had paranoid schizophrenia. Parts of the letter (including lines like “When father Sam gets drunk he gets mean. He beats our 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 kills’ commands father Sam”) led them to think that he suffered from delusions. However, Berkowitz underwent a thorough mental evaluation after his arrest, and was found mentally fit.
9- After his arrest, Berkowitz claimed to be a member of an occult group that worshipped Satan. Other members of his supposed cult included John Carr, the owner of the “possessed” dog, and his son Michael. Berkowitz carried this idea with him into the present, telling a reporter in 1993 that, “We made a pact, maybe with the devil, but also with each other… We were going to go all the way with this thing. We’re soldiers of Satan now. I was just too far in, too loyal, too much playing the role of the soldier and trying to please people.”
10- Berkowitz’s birth parents were Joseph Kleinman and Betty Broder. At the time of his birth, Broder was married to a man named Tony Falco. Falco had abandoned her and their daughter, but she never divorced him, despite having an affair with Joseph Kleinman, who was also married. Because of this, Broder listed Falco as the father on Berkowitz’s birth certificate. He was later adopted by Nathan and Pearl Berkowitz.
11- Prior to his killing spree, Berkowitz spent the years between 1971 and 1974 in the Army. He avoided having to go to Vietnam, but did spend some time in South Korea. While there, he trained as a marksman and was known for his excellent aim
12- The Son of Sam’s murder weapon of choice was a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver – in fact, one of his nicknames was The .44 Caliber Killer. When he was arrested for his crimes, he was carrying the gun in a paper bag, and told the cops “Well, you got me. How come it took you such a long time?” The Bulldog is known for being both powerful and reliable, and it was one of the best selling guns during the 1970s.
13- After his arrest, media outlets began offering Berkowitz money for exclusive interviews about his crimes. This sparked a huge backlash that led to the creation of Son of Sam laws, which “required the person contracting with the criminal to turn over the criminal’s proceeds to the state’s Crime Victims Compensation Board, which established an escrow account for the benefit of the crime’s victims and publicized the existence of the account.”