Who Is Son of Sam, AKA David Berkowitz, And Where Is He Now?
The Netflix series has captivated viewers, thanks to its psychological drama that pulls directly from some of the darkest parts of human history: the methods and mindsets of the most notorious serial killers. Season two of the hit TV series continues that exploration into true crime, showing, among others, footage of David Berkowitz—better known as the Son of Sam.
You’ve probably heard of Son of Sam at some point, but might be fuzzy on the details, given that this all went down in the 1970s. Here’s everything you need to know about this infamous serial killer—including how he finally got caught.
Who is Son of Sam, again?
Berkowitz made a name, or rather alias, for himself after he murdered six people in New York City from 1976 through 1977. The city went into a panic and carried out one of the biggest manhunts in New York history, according to Biography. Berkowitz repeatedly left letters near his victims’ bodies that taunted police.
In July 29, 1976, Berkowitz’s first two victims were teenage girls Jody Valenti and Donna Lauria. The two girls were sitting in Valenti's car in front of Lauria's home in the Bronx when Berkowitz shot them, killing Lauria and injuring Valenti. A few months later, he shot at another couple in a parked car, injuring the man, and again attacked two teenage girls walking home in November. (One ended up paraplegic, Biography says.)
It wasn’t until January 1977, when Berkowitz attacked Christine Freund and her fiancé (who were also sitting in a parked car), that police realized the killings were linked. Berkowitz used the same .44-caliber gun in all of his shootings, earning the name the “.44-caliber killer,” which later evolved to “Son of Sam.” (More on that in a sec.)
Berkowitz then went on to murder college student Virginia Voskerichian in March while she was walking home from class. And a month later, he attacked Valentina Suriani and Alexander Esau in their car. He left a letter addressed to NYPD Captain Joseph Borrelli, in which he called himself “Son of Sam” for the first time.
Berkowitz’s last hit was in Brooklyn, when he killed Stacy Moskowitz and wounded 20-year-old Robert Violante, who ended up partly blinded, per
How was Son of Sam caught?
After Moskowitz was killed, an eyewitness saw someone getting away in a car that had a parking ticket on it. In August 1977, police detective James Justus sifted through traffic tickets for cars that were near where Moskowitz and Violante had been shot, and found one registered to Berkowitz, reported. Justus called the Yonkers police department (since Berkowitz lived in Yonkers) and asked about him, only to have the dispatcher tell him that Berkowitz had shot her dog.
“I was: ‘This has got to be the guy. This has got to be the guy,’” Justus told the . “I mean, you’re not going to know until you have him right in front of you, but what’s somebody from Yonkers doing down in that neighborhood? A lot of things we used to do on gut feeling: ‘I can’t put my finger on it. Something’s wrong with this.’ You’ve got to go with it.”
When police went to Berkowitz’s home, he told them that he was the Son of Sam, says. Berkowitz was arrested on August 10, 1977, just 11 days after his last murder. When he was questioned by police, Berkowitz said that he had been ordered to kill by his neighbor Sam Carr, who sent messages to Berkowitz through his dog, a demon-possessed Labrador retriever, per Biography. He was eventually sentenced to six consecutive 25-years-to-life terms.
Where is Son of Sam now?
Berkowitz initially received a lot of money to share his story, prompting most states to pass laws (sometimes called “Son of Sam laws”) that prohibit convicted criminals from financially profiting from books, movies, or anything else related to their crimes.
Today, Berkowitz is still in jail. He had a heart attack in late 2017, according to the , and was hospitalized with complications afterward. Berkowitz is now a born-again Christian and refers to himself as the Son of Hope, the reported.
Besides Son of Sam's crimes, will also spend this season diving into two other serial killers: Wayne Williams, who was convicted of the Atlanta Child Murders, and Charles Manson.