David Berkowitz Story Research Paper

Pages: 10 (3683 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

David Berkowitz, known as "Son of Sam," is one of the most notorious serial killers in American history. He had a troubled life and he clearly had psychological problems, but his legacy is that of a cold blooded killer in New York City. This paper reflects on his biography and his life and crimes, and This paper offers some theories of criminality that are potentially linked to Berkowitz's behaviors.

The Literature on Berkowitz's Life and Crimes

David Berkowitz was born with the name Richard David Falco on the first of June in 1953 in New York City. His mother, Betty Falco, and her original husband were divorced but Betty Falco gave birth to a son with Joseph Klein, a married man who had an affair with Betty Falco. According to the World of Criminal Justice, Klein didn't want the child so he insisted that the son be given up for adoption and indeed the boy was adopted by a Jewish couple (Nathan and Pearl Berkowitz) in the Bronx. They reversed his middle and first names and he became David Berkowitz.

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A lie early in Berkowitz's life got him started on the wrong foot; when Berkowitz was just 3 years old, Nathan and Pearl told him that in fact he was an adopted child but they falsified the reasons why he was adopted by saying his real mother died in childbirth. That was not a good idea because now the little boy carried around guilt that somehow he had caused his biological mother's death. By age 14, his adopted mother died from cancer, and when his adopted father re-married, Berkowitz joined the army. He earned an honorable discharge in 1974 after learning to be "proficient in shooting" (World of Criminal Justice).

TOPIC: Research Paper on David Berkowitz Story Assignment

Once out of the military service, the biography of David Berkowitz tells the story of a young man who was developing "mental and emotional problems"; he began "hearing voices" and when his adopted father admitted that he had lied to David, that he biological mother was in fact alive, he "…became obsessed with finding her, which he did in May 1975" (World of Criminal Justice). By this time (between 1974 and 1977) Berkowitz was setting fires (his journal entry later retrieved by police showed he had allegedly started 1,400 fires).

Apparently he was hearing voices telling him to kill people. After stabbing two women (both of whom lived) he bought a .44 caliber weapon in Texas in 1976 and began killing people in New York City on July 29. The Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology (EOP) explains that during his adolescence, in addition to the incidents mentioned earlier, Berkowitz was a bully and yet ironically he was a bully. The voices he said he heard were coming from "demons" -- and those demons were his neighbors, including their German shepherd dogs.

He shot and killed Donna Lauria on January 29, 1976, who was in a parked car with her boyfriend, and that would be his "trademark" style of homicide, the EOP points out. The literature on Berkowitz again and again reflects the fact that he wasn't interested in killing men, or in killing the boyfriends of the women he shot in parked cars -- or on the street.

On October 23, 1976, Berkowitz shot into a parked car again, this time only wounding the male (Carl Denaro, 19 years old) and not injuring the female (Rosemary Keenan); but on November 26 of that same year Berkowitz shot two women that were walking home from a movie (Donna DeMasi, 16, and Joanne Lomino, 18); both of them lived albeit Lomino was paralyzed from the waist down after the attack.

In January, 1977, another couple sitting in a parked car was shot; this time it was a couple that was engaged to be married. Christine Freund died from the injuries but her finance John Diel survived the assault.

The EOP reports that he killed Valentina Suriani and Alexander Esau on April 17, 1977; they were sitting in a parked car and he left a letter that was signed "Son of Sam" (EOP, p. 1). In the bizarre letter, Berkowitz said his father Sam was a "blood-thirsty blood drinker" and noted that he was "…the monster -- Beelzebub' -- the chubby behemoth" (EOP, p. 1). One of the constants in research about Berkowitz is his letter writing. For beginners, he sent letters to his neighbors complaining that the dog was barking too often. On the 19th of April, 1977, he sent his second letter to the neighbors and on April 29 Berkowitz shot the dog -- and later the killing of that dog would help the police solve the crime spree.

After the killing of Suriani, police discovered a hand-written letter that was full of spelling errors, but it was clearly from Berkowitz. He wrote:

"I am deeply hurt by your calling me a wemon hater. I am not. But I am a monster. I am the 'Son of Sam.' I am a little brat. When father Sam gets drunk he gets mean. He beats his 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 kill,' commands father Sam. Behind our house some rest. Mostly young -- raped and slaughtered -- their blood drained -- just bones now. Papa Sam keeps me locked in the attic too. I can't get out but I look out the attic window and watch the world go by. I feel like an outsider. I am on a different wavelength then everybody else -- programmed to kill. However, to stop me you must kill me. Attention all police: shoot me first -- shoot to kill or else keep out of my way or you will die! Papa Sam is old now. He needs some blood to preserve his youth. He has had too many heart attacks

I want to make love to the world. I love people. I don't belong on earth.

Return me to the yahoos. To the people of Queens, I love you. And I want to wish all of you a happy Easter. May God bless you in this life and in the next.

And for now I say goodbye and goodnight. Police: Let me haunt you with these words: I'll be back! I'll be back! To be interpreted as -- bang bang, bank, ugh!! Yours in murder, Mr. Monster."

Summer of 1977 in New York

Jonathan Mahler writes in the New York Times that in the Summer of 1977 there was a lot going on in New York City, including tension between Yankee superstar Reggie Jackson and his manager Billy Martin. In addition, the Mets traded star pitcher Tom Seaver and the French were trying to get New York to accept the supersonic jet ("Concorde") into Kennedy Airport. And of course the Summer of 1977 was the Summer of Berkowitz's crime spree. Mahler writes about noted columnist Jimmy Breslin and his involvement with the Son of Sam. On March 9 in 1977 Breslin went to Forest Hills where Virginia Voskerichian had been killed the night before and there was speculation about a possible connection with another murder, because the body of Voskerichian was just 300 yards from another murder that happened a few months earlier (Mahler, 2002).

Indeed the slugs from a .44 caliber handgun matched in both murders, Mahler continues, and the other murders that spring and summer all involved "…young women with shoulder-length brown hair" (p. 3). When the next victim was found with that same .44 slug in her body, a note was also found. It read: "I am the Son of Sam. I love to hunt. Prowling the streets looking for fair game -- tasty meat. The women of Queens are the prettyist" (Mahler, p. 3).

The next letter that was written by Berkowitz (June, 1977), was addressed to Breslin: "Hello from the gutters of NYC, which are filled with dog manure, vomit, stale wine, urine and blood. Hello from the sewers of NYC which swallow up these delicacies when they are washed away by the sweeper trucks. Hello from the cracks in the sidewalks of NYC and from the ants that dwell in these cracks and feed in the dried blood of the dead that has settled into the cracks…Don't think because you haven't heard from me in a while that I went to sleep" (Mahler, p. 3). The publishers of the New York Daily News printed a portion of that letter in June, 1977.

Breslin (in his column, which Berkowitz said he read) urged Berkowitz to turn himself in. But of course Berkowitz did not turn himself in and instead he continued his killing spree. But a break for police came the day after Berkowitz shot Stacy Moskowitz and Robert Violante in the head in Brooklyn. That shooting took place on July 31, 1977, and while Violante was only blinded, Moskowitz died from the attack.

But a neighbor, Cecilia… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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