David Berkowitz: the Son of Sam or the . 44 caliber Killer On the summer night of July 29, 1976 shots rang out in a New York City neighborhood. This marked the beginning of the . 44 caliber or the Son of Sam murders. His reign of terror would grip this city and its surrounding areas for over a year.
Sadly the Son of Sam whom was eventually identified as David Berkowitz a severely disturbed young man that fell under the several theories of crime causation. In his early life he felt awkward and scorned by his peers because of being adopted and his appearance. These feelings would later follow him into his adult life and as referred by Bardsely (n. d. )”, he would be creating fantasies that would crowd out reality and eventually David lived in a world populated by the demons his mind had created,” (22. The Blood Monster, para. 5). Further reading and research of the Son of Sam uncovers that he would have had the potential to find his way into the theories of labeling and psychological criminal causation. David Berkowitz was born Richard David Falco in Brooklyn, New York. His mother who was involved in an affair immediately gave the child up for adoption. Within the week of his birth he was adopted by Nathan and Pearl Berkowitz. While growing up under their care he began to show some characteristics of his violent tendencies that were to come. Although his parents provided and loved him he was known his neighborhood for having a violent streak, he assaulted neighborhood kids for no apparent reason. He was hyperactive and very difficult for Pearl and Nat to control (Bardsely, n. d. ). Then the tragedy that many wuld say pushed him further down his diluted path struck. Pearl had a recurrence of breast cancer in 1965 and 1967. The disease and chemo dissipated Pearl to a very meager state that was very difficult for David to handle.
Then in the fall of 1967 Pearl died. It was at this time that the delusions began to take form in his mind. After Pearl’s death David deteriorated into almost a state of paranoia. He acted out by becoming more involved in petty larceny and pyromania.
His state of mind was that of a very disturbed young man because he began to believe that her death was the part of some plan to destroy him. During this eriod of time Nathan re-married and things became even more turbulent for David as his relationship with this woman was very strained. In an effort to escape these feelings of anger, frustration, and strain from his family life David joined the army in the summer of 1971 for three years. During this time he had his only consummated sexual experience with a woman. She was a prostitute in Korea. He contracted a venereal disease as a souvenir (Bardsely, n. d. ). Before the delusions escalated to murder David began a spree of arson fires. He set 1,488 fires and kept a diary of each one. This was part of his control fantasy. He felt as if there was no control in his life but when he lit these fires he had control of even society.
Yet the fires would only ease his delusions for some time. In the Fall and Winter of 1975 began David’s cry for help as referred in Bardsely (n. d. ), David’s state of mind in November was very bleak when he wrote to his father in Florida: “It’s cold and gloomy here in New York, but that’s okay because the weather fits my mood — gloomy. Dad, the world is getting dark now. I can feel it more and more. The people, they are developing a hatred for me. You wouldn’t believe how much some people hate me. Many of them want to kill me. I don’t even know these people, but still they hate me. Most of them are young. I walk down the street and they spit and kick at me. The girls call me ugly and they bother me the most. The guys just laugh. Anyhow, things will soon change for the better. ” (20. Cry for help, para. 1). Yet no one seemed to hear his cries. He barricaded himself in his apartment only to leave for food at this time.
His bizarre fantasies drove him to start write such things on the wall as: “In this hole lives the Wicked King. Kill for my Master. I turn children into Killers. ” By Christmas Eve David’s emotional and mental state were ready to collapse into a pile of rubble and it did. He performed his first attacks at knife point on two young women. He killed at what we would perceive at random but in his diseased mind these were targets for his demons that ordered him to sacrifice them for their young beautiful blood. Following these attacks David’s delusions dissipated. It seemed as if the demons had been feed and were in a dormant state. He moved from the Bronx to a two-family home in Yonkers. Here though the delusions would grow stronger and more elaborate. The Cassara family, whom he was renting from, owned a German Sheppard who was noisy and howled frequently. He would become David’s unrelenting torment. Inside this family’s dog lived a demon that was ordering David to go hunting for blood.
This would drive him to the edge becoming even suicidal at one point. No longer able to bear he left the Cassara’s and moved to an apartment home in Yonkers. Here a man by the name of Sam Carr owned a black Labrador that would also torment David. Yet the more disturbing thing was the way these delusions were being to unravel. He began to believe that Mr. Cassara was General Jack Cosmo, commander in chief of the devil dogs roaming the streets of New York. Sam Carr at this time became host of a powerful demon by the name of Sam who worked for General Jack Cosmo. This was the demon which David refers to his later letters to the news and police. David would soon became the . 44 caliber killer in July of 1976 with his first assault at gun point.
David continued on his violent killing spree that was incited by his fantasies that had now become his reality. Then in August of 1977 Operation Omega, which was the task force assigned to the Son of Sam murders, caught a break. First they had an eye-witness at the latest scene of David’s murderous assault on a couple.
Then they began connecting the dots between the killing of Cassara’s German Sheppard and Sam Carr’s Labrador. After their pets had been murdered they both received odd and disturbing anonymous letters. They both reported these happenings to the police but no notice was taken till David was tied in to knowing them both. The biggest break that they found was through a simple traffic citation that turned everything full circle. The night of his latest murder David Berkowitz of Yonkers received a traffic citation at the scene of the crime. He was curiously tied to these two men and had an uncanny resemblance to the description of the man which the eye-witness saw that night stalking around the area.
Once it was all connected and the case that was to be brought forward again David Berkowitz was solid the Police took action on August 10, 1977. They put David’s neighborhood under surveillance. They waited patiently for hours. As the hours passed the show of force grew with their anticipation. Everyone wanted to apprehend this man who had alluded the police for so long. Finally he emerged from the apartment building with his signature brown paper bag that held is . 44 caliber gun. Once in his vehicle the officers made their advance to his car. Upon his capture David did not seemed shocked but had a smile glued on his face for the arresting officer.
After his capture and incarceration in Attica Prison David agreed to be interviewed by a veteran FBI agent by the name of Robert Ressler in 1979 that dug deeper and found what others could not. During these interviews Ressler had David admit to him “that his real reason for shooting women was out of resentment toward his own mother, and because of his inability to establish good relationships with women. ” He would become sexually aroused in the stalking and shooting of women and would masturbate after it was over (Bardsely, n. d. ). Stalking women had become a nightly game for him and if no victim was found then he would return to the scene of his previous crimes to relish in their memories. Weather David Berkowitz actually heard the demon dogs commanding him to kill for blood or he killed from pent up emotional and mental anguish of women he fits into the characteristics of one that commits crimes through the psychological theory. As stated by VonFrederick Rawlins (2005),”Psychological theory states that people commit crimes because of personality imbalances developed early in childhood. ” (para. 4). We could clearly see that David had a turbulent childhood starting as early as his birth. His lack of social development and feelings of inadequacy began very early in life as stated earlier. We could see how these inadequacies that plagued him from childhood followed into his adult life. His strange behavior would then lead him into the theory of labeling. As David grew older he saw that people labeled each other and he began noticing those labels which were bestowed on him from his appearance and strange behavior. According to VonFrederick Rawlins (2005), “Labeling theory provides the underpinning for the noninterventionist perspective.
This theory maintains that people enter into law violating careers when they are labeled for their acts and organize their personalities around such labels. In essence, if you continuously told a person that he/she was a “worthless soul on the road to perdition,” that person may just end up in prison on their way to hell. ” (para. 3). Due to the labeling which David endured in reality and in his delusions he was driven to a path that would cause criminal activity. This was a path that would lead him to a sense of control which he did not have. The Summer of Sam was a reign of terror that can be plausibly explained through the theories of crime causation that were implemented in the relentless search for the Son of Sam. All along this treacherous road that the Son of Sam followed through a little over a year of terrorizing he followed not only his demons but the theories of crime causation. He was a model to two of these theories because of his lack of social development and the series of traumatizing events that involved his childhood. These crimes like many today and in our past were not motivated by an ultimate evil but through the thoughts and emotions of a purely human man that was extremely emotionally and mentally disturbed. References Montaldo, C. (n. d. ). David Berkowitz – The Son of Sam. About. com: Crime/Punishment. Retrieved from https://crime. about. com/od/murder/p/sonofsam. htm VonFrederick Rawlins, l. c. m. (2005). Theories of Crime Causation.
The VonFrederick Group. Retrieved from https://www. vonfrederick. com/pubs/Theories%20of%20Crime%20Causation. pdf Bardsely, M. (n. d. ). Son of Sam. Tru tv Crime Library.
Retrieved from https://www. trutv. com/library/crime/serial_killers/notorious/berkowitz/letter_1. html
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