EPISODE 6: Son of Sam

EPISODE 6: Son of Sam

David Berkowitz terrorised New York for 12 months from July 1976- July 1977.  He became known as ‘The Son of Sam’ after sending letters to police and the media, signing each letter with the moniker.

After murdering at least 6 people with a .44 calibre bulldog revolver, Berkowitz was sentenced to 6 life sentences.

Now you will hear his shocking confessions; from the courtroom outburst where he proclaims  “I’d kill them all again” to his claims of satanic possession, and finally his remorse.

Our news section covers:

– Claims the ‘Ice Pick Killer’ is too sick to be executed

– A Jury recommends the death penalty for Andrew Urdiales

– How the Police reaction to the murder of Eurydice Dixon has created a major backlash for authorities

– Why true crime convention, Paracon, was really cancelled at the last minute.

Son of Sam Biography

BY AMANDA HOWARD

A baby boy was born on June 1, 1953. The birth, though something usually celebrated was a time of embarrassment and denial. The baby, known as Richard Falco was the product of a thirteen year affair between Betty Falco, a mother whose husband had deserted the marriage and Joseph Kleinman, a married business man with children of his own. To hide the true paternity of baby Richard, Betty listed her absent husband, Tony, as the father. Then, under the pressure of being a single mother who was already struggling to support her daughter, gave her baby boy up for adoption and three days later Nat and Pearl Berkowitz, brought home their new son and named him David. They were older than the average age of couple adopting children at forty-three and thirty-seven; but they loved the little baby boy with the blue eyes with all their heart. 

The Berkowitz home was devoutly Jewish and adhered to the strict Kosher guidelines. The family celebrated the Sabbath every Friday night, and regularly attended Temple where their son would eventually celebrate his Bar Mitzvah. The Berkowitz family lived in a small one bedroom apartment in the Bronx, where David shared the same bedroom with his adopted parents until he was nine years old. Living in such close quarters with his parents may have had an effect on the boy later in life and he recalled that whenever his father wanted to have sex with his mother, Nat would shine a small flashlight in David’s face and ask if he was awake.  He would pretend to be asleep and not answer, fearing he would anger his father if he responded. In later interviews he claims to not recall actually seeing or hearing his parents actually have intercourse, but surely such graphic images of the sex act between his adoptive parents were imprinted into his mind and sexual fantasies from those times. 

According to Berkowitz, he was  not close with his father who worked long hours six days a week at the family local story, but he was extremely close with his mother. He did not like to share his mother with anyone and anything that stood in the way of his mother’s attention including his father was fair game for David’s aggressions.  He once used household cleaner to slowly poison his mother’s parakeet because he claimed that she paid too much attention to it.  He also poisoned his mother’s tropical fish for the same reason. His parents eventually stopped buying tropical fish not knowing that they were dying at David’s hands, though they likely suspected that he was responsible. 

As a child, David suffered from horrific nightmares about death and dying, which his father blamed on his overactive imagination. They had told the young boy that his mother had died giving birth to him and David claimed to hold this as guilt, believing that his birth father would blame him for his mother’s death and come and kill him.  This weigh heavily on the young boy, who was unaware that his mother was indeed alive and had given him up due to the scandalous nature of his conception. His adopted parents took little notice of the anxiety drive dreams of the boy. Though Dr. Abrahamsen who later interviewed Berkowitz believed that his nightmares were part of an underlying guilt he secretly held on to for most of his young life. conscious or unconscious fears.  David was so fascinated with death that he once stated in an interview that

I do love death.  I’ve always loved it.  I’ve wished for it, and tried to understand it.  Death is fascinating…its power, its hold; it is wonderful.

There is some evidence to suggest that her found out much earlier, regardless the anxiety that he suffered from finding out the truth affected the course of his life, believing he had been unwanted by his birth parents, and he had never wanted to be born made him feel worthless and often out of control. 

Berkowitz was an average student at school though testing revealed him to have an above average IQ of 118. He didn’t particularly like attending school and was often disruptive and hard to control in class and was often in trouble for truanting. In reality it had more to do with the fact that he wanted to be home with his mother more than anything else. He would fake being sick to stay home with his mother.

I’d loved staying home.  My mother, thinking I was sick, would wait on me hand and foot.  Boy what a con artist I was.   

During his teen years his criminal behaviours began to escalate, he would steal items from local story and vandalised shopfronts and school property. He’d steal small change and insignificant items from friends and family for no reason and then throw away the items he had stolen. He also began hurting and killing animals.  He was never getting caught for any of the illegal activities he took part him, and liked the thrill of hearing other students talking about what had happened and knew that he was responsible.

David was also a serial arsonist. In his detailed diaries, he admitted to starting over 2000 fires in the Queens-Brooklyn area. Arson in a child is usually seen as an expression of sexual and aggressive over stimulation.  According to Dr Robert Simon, fire expresses the child’s hyperactive excitement and deep seated anger and the sight of fire is sexually arousing in children and sexually immature adults. 

Berkowitz was a loner and sexually immature, females did not find him attractive or interesting, but according to his diaries, he would fantasise about them in escalating sexually explicit positions. All in all, Berkowitz was a loner, when he was later arrested for the murders, his neighbours and co-workers described him as quiet and polite, no-one ever suspected he was the man wanted for terrorising the boroughs of New York. He was a loner. 

I did this by myself–no one else knew about it.  There was no motive 

David’s world drastically changed when he was fourteen years old. Just two months after his Bar Mitzvah his beloved mother, Pearl, died of breast cancer. He felt abandoned. He had been in complete denial about her illness, believing that she would recover. He sobbed uncontrollably at his mother’s funeral, but also realised that he had been set free, he no longer worried about being caught for his activities, he could no longer worry about disappointing her. He said, 

I was both happy and sad. 

His father remained focussed on the family store and was home even less now. During this time Berkowitz took up the sport of mountain climbing he always chose risky paths, climbing rock faces and over unsteady boulders, enjoying the endorphin rush that came with it, that one false step could send him falling to his death. 

Mountain climbing was fantastic–that close walk with death–challenging God and fate.

In 1970 his father and he moved to Co-Op City, a massive apartment development. His frequent truancy almost prevented him from graduating with his high school diploma, but in 1971 he graduated from Columbia High School with an outstanding 83.4 average.  

In Co-Op City Berkowitz became both an auxiliary fireman and an auxiliary policeman. Learning a lot about both fires and weaponry. A dangerous combination that would assist him later in his murderous spree. 

In 1971 Nat married a woman named Julia.  She had a twenty-five year old daughter that David came to resent as a threat to his place in the family. His new step-sister was smart, pretty and popular. He saw the two new women in his life as a threat to the memory of his beloved adopted mother. He began to hate women. To avoid being around the new family members, Berkowitz enlisted in the Army, he saw it as an opportunity to do something patriotic and even possibly die for his country. He had hoped to be sent to Vietnam, but instead he was stationed in Korea.  It was there that he had his first sexual encounter and promptly contracted the sexually-transmitted disease, gonorrhoea. It was another reason that he seem to hate the opposite sex. 

He was transferred back to the states in 1973 and ended up at Fort Knox, Kentucky where he had a profound change in religion. He renounced his Jewish faith and became heavily involved with a hell fire and brimstone type church, where all the sermons were about sin, hell, eternal damnation.  Outwardly, he appeared to embrace his new found faith whole heartedly and became an active member. Yet he still was not comfortable around women. After his arrest he stated that he would never witness for women because,

Women–I blame them for everything. Everything evil that’s happened in this world–somehow goes back to them. I hate them for messing up everything in the world.  They really screwed my life up good.   

He secretly hoped that all the men would accept God so they would go to heaven, but not the women.  He didn’t want any sluts in heaven.   He was a habitual masturbator and after spending hours preaching the word, he would hurry back to his barracks to fulfill this need.  He had no need or use for a real woman.  Besides blaming women for all his problems and attitudes, David was angry at God and blamed him for being born and personally disappointing him.

David was discharged from the Army in 1974 with very little prospects. He had no job, and no place to live.  He moved back in with his father and his new wife but things did not work out.  So when Nat and Julia decided to move to Florida in December 1974, they told David that he was not to join them so he instead began his search for his biological family.  In his own mind, his father had rejected him and he felt as though he had been abandoned again.

He joined the ALMA, The Adoptee’s Liberty Movement Association, in the hopes that he would find his birth father, he still believed that his biological mother died during his birth. Yet he was shocked to discover that virtually all adoptees are told that their mothers had died.  He confronted Nat with this information and he admitted that his mother hadn’t died, she just couldn’t take care of him.  He realised that throughout his entire life he had carried around the guilt of killing his mother, only to find out that it was all a lie.  The search for his mother became an all-consuming passion.  A copy of his birth certificate gave him his birth name, Richard David Falco; his mother’s name, Betty Falco; and his father’s name Tony Falco – though Tony was not the boy’s biological father.

Like many adopted children, Berkowitz was searching for his perfect fantasy family and he was soon disappointed with the reality of his birth mother. She was nothing like Pearl Berkowitz whom he had idolised his entire life. When he met Betty Falco he was appalled. He hated her voice and the way she spoke, he even covered his ears to try and block out the nasally high pitched squeal of her voice. The pair met several times in 1975, but it never met the expectations David had and soon the relationship dissolved. But not before learning that he had an older half-sister, Barbara, who was not put up for adoption and that the name of father on his birth certificate was also a lie. Then when Betty told him that he was given up for adoption because he was not wanted by his mother or by her lover, Joseph Kleinman, that his conception was an accident, nothing more than a mistake.   Berkowitz felt betrayed, abandoned or threatened by the closest or most influential women in his life: Julia, his step-mother who took his father from him;  his step-sister who was in competition with him; his half-sister  Barbara, whom his biological mother kept;  his adopted mother Pearl, abandoning him at 14 with her death and Betty Falco, his birth mother, who threw him away. Hate filled the young man and by 1975 it was almost at boiling point. 

It was only a matter of time before the human time bomb exploded….and explode he did!

His rage escalated. He set a fire on December 22nd and then on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1975, in Co-Op City, he attacked two females with a massive hunting knife. It was Berkowitz’s first attempts to kill and he had specifically chosen small, younger, easily subdued (he thought) victims. The first woman has never been identified, she was only slightly injured and escaped quickly. Berkowitz’s second victim was fourteen year old, Michelle Forman.  Michelle was brutally wounded. Michelle however had enough fortitude to fight him off and then screamed for help.  The bloodiness of the attack terrified Berkowitz and made him sick.  Berkowitz later claimed,

I wasn’t going to rape her or take her money.  I was only going to kill her.  That’s all.  

He ran away and the girl lived.  From then on, seeing so much blood, Berkowitz would change his weapon of choice. 

Soon after this incident he moved to an apartment in Westchester County.  The apartment was in the attic of a private home owned by the Cassara family.  He left after living there only three months due to arguments with the Cassaras about their dogs, who barked incessantly.  At the time, Berkowitz was working as a night watchman and the barking kept him awake.   In April 1976, he moved to Yonkers into a tiny 7th floor apartment and yet again he had the same problem with barking dogs.  Particularly problematic was a dog named Harvey, owned by sixty-four year old neighbour Sam Carr.

Berkowitz fought his murderous urges for a while, but six months after his first botched attempt at murder, he procured a .44-caliber Charter Arms Bulldog hand gun, the only reason to buy the gun was so that he could murder women. His reason for wanting to kill, 

I was determined and in full agreement with myself that I must slay a woman for revenge purposes and to get back at them for all the suffering (mental suffering) they caused me.

A gun was more of a “hands off” approach and his victims would be less likely to fight back when a gun is pointed at their face.  He didn’t know his victims before hand, pretty much any young female would do, though, he did have a propensity for women with long dark hair.  He didn’t stalk his victims, he stalked the neighborhood by familiarizing himself with landmarks, streets, alleys and escape routes. He planned the details of the murders carefully, except the selection of his victims, it was just to be the person was in the wrong place at the right time for him. 

His first victims were close to his childhood home in the Bronx.  On the night of July 29, 1976, Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti were sitting in a parked car, on an open street, talking.  Berkowitz walked up to the passenger side of the car, held the .44-caliber Bulldog in one hand, and fired into the window, the shots killed Donna Lauria and wounded Jody Valenti with a gunshot to her thigh. He then fled in an adrenaline fuelled, frightened panic. Later he pondered how the murder made him feel:

I felt happy.  I felt some peace.  That built up tension was dissipated temporarily. I felt powerful and cunning, especially when I put on my innocent look.   

He felt absolutely no remorse over the killing, he had chosen the victims randomly, claiming

I detested her because of what she represented.  A pretty girl, a threat to me and my masculinity and she was a child of God, God’s creation.  …I knew my gun could snuff someone’s life.  I developed such an obsession to do what I did, all the laws or promises of the gas chamber couldn’t get me to stop or turn back.   

Berkowitz went out hunting every night with the intention of killing a woman but it would take three month before he struck again. On October 23, 1976, Berkowitz walked up to a red Volkswagen Bug where Rosemary Keenan, the daughter of a NYC detective, and Carl DeNaro were making out. He raised his gun to the passenger side window and fired four shots. One bullet hit Carl DeNaro, shattering his skull.  DeNaro had long hair and was sitting in the passenger seat of the car and Berkowitz had mistaken him for a female. The other three shots went wild, none of them striking Rosemary who screamed hysterically, making Berkowitz realise his mistake.  He got into his car and drove off in a blind panic. To calm his nerves he stopped at a White Castle and ordered a large meal.  He was disgusted with himself because his intended victim was the girl and he missed.

His next two victims, Donna DeMasi and Joanne Lomino, were shot a month later, on November 27th, while sitting on Joanne’s front porch in Bayside, Queens trying to cool themselves in the summer heat.  Nervous and anxious, he walked straight up to the porch, raise the .44-caliber Bulldog in one hand and fire at the two girls.  Donna was wounded in the neck. Joanne was hit in the spine and instantly paralyzed from the waist down but both girls survived. 

During his first three shootings, Berkowitz had been agitated and nervous.  Part of the reason for these feelings was his fear of being caught or killed.  The other reason, 

When I was about to commit my crimes, I was cognizant of finally being able to pass that point, in which a human plays God.  Sure I was nervous.  Why?  Because I was about to commit the ultimate of crimes taking another’s life.  This was a very traumatic event.  

He would later tell the police that when hunting proved to be fruitless he would visit his previous crime scenes to relive the joy and power of the moment and then go home to masturbate.  He even went so far as to visit Donna Lauria’s  grave.

In February, in the Forest Hills section of Queens, Berkowitz shot Christine Freund and John Diehl. Christine Freund died within hours from her injuries. However, this shooting was different to the others.  First, Berkowitz used two hands and the shooters stance for more control.  Secondly, and more importantly, he had no fear.  He, by his own admission, was becoming more cold-blooded and was calm when he shot his victims.  He had succeeded in justifying his crimes and had convinced himself that:

it was good to do it, necessary to do it and that the public wanted me to do it.  

The media was in a frenzy and they named this unknown assailant the .44-Caliber Killer. The FBI even coined a new term to describe his actions–serial murderer.  If you were a young adult female, living in or around the city, you didn’t go out after dark without some apprehension. An air of danger prevailed and soon it would get worse.

In March of 1977 Berkowitz started working for the post office as a zip code checker. That same month, on the 8th, Berkowitz set out in the early evening to prowl the streets looking for another victim. He found her within a block of spot that he had shot Christine Freund to death.  He chose Virginia Voskerichian, a young lady walking home alone from Bernard College.  He walked up to her, crouched and raised the .44-Caliber Bulldog in both hands.  Virginia held a large textbook in front of her face in self-defense. David calmly put the gun up to the book and shot through it, killing her instantly. 

Later that evening he watched the news and gloated.  The next day he bought the New York Daily News, The NY Times and The Post and the headlines screamed of his exploits.  He was getting to know his audience and he was getting bolder.

The following month, Berkowitz added to his crime spree by sending anonymous threatening letters to his neighbour Sam Carr and members of his family, including his daughter Wheat. Berkowitz, in the letters, threaten to kill members of Carr’s family if he did not silence his dog. He accused Carr of tormenting him and ruining his life.   After weeks of the incessant letters, and no action, Berkowitz shot Harvey, the dog, with a .22 pistol.  Carr reported the incident to the police but the investigation went nowhere.

 On the evening of April 16th 1977 Berkowitz set a another fire then the following night, only metres from where he shot his first victims he shot Valentina Suriani and Alexander Esau who were sitting in a parked car. The shootings were becoming more frequent and again the killer changed his MO. After shooting the couple, he left his first “Son of Sam” note at the scene of the crime.  At the time, police would not release the contents of the note, which was signed Mr. Monster,  except to say  it was rambling, incoherent and ghoulish. He professed not to hate women, and in the note left at the scene states,

I am deeply hurt by your calling me a wemanhater (sic.).  I am not.  But I am a monster.  I am the Son of Sam  I am a little brat   

Berkowitz in the letter claimed that “his father”, Sam, keeps him locked in an attic and programs him to kill.  

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The letter gave police enough information that they began putting together a profile. Dr. Harvey Schlossberg, a patrolman-turned-psychologist,  stated that the killer was:

Somebody who is looking for help.  

He is lonely and has no friends.  

I see him in a cheap furnished room.  

He is probably afraid of women.  

I don’t know who rejected him–wife, girlfriend, sister, mother–but now his fear has turned to rage. 

During the first week of June, another letter arrived. This time it was sent to the New York Daily News and addressed to journalist, Jimmy Breslin.  In part, it read,

Hello from the gutters of NYC which are filled with dog manure, vomit, stale wine, urine and blood…..

Hello from the cracks of the sidewalks in NYC and the ants that dwell in these cracks and feed on the dried blood of the dead that has settled in the cracks……Sam’s a thirsty lad and he won’t let me stop killing until he gets his fill of blood.  

On June 7th, Berkowitz sent another letter to a Westchester County auxiliary deputy sheriff named Craig Glassman. He was to receive a total of four bizarre, threatening letters from Berkowitz.  Glassman, a registered nurse and his wife, a social worker, lived in a 6th floor apartment directly underneath Berkowitz. Berkowitz hated Glassman as much as he hated Sam Carr, claiming the man played his television too loud. 

Meanwhile, Sam Carr was still getting threatening letters, and in June would get a phone call from a couple named Cassara.  They became concerned when they received a get well card signed by “Sam and Frances Carr”.  They didn’t know anybody by that name and no one in their family was sick.  To clear up the mystery they contacted Sam Carr.  On closer inspection of the card, Carr realized that the handwriting on the card matched the handwriting on the harassing letters he’d been receiving.  Together they all discovered that they had had the same neighbour, over the years and it was likely that Berkowitz was behind their threatening letters. Carr contacted the police again in July, when he saw a police sketch of a suspect that looked like Berkowitz. This time his name was added to the list of people to check out.

On June 16th, 1977 David set a fire at Ferry Point Park.  Then ten days later Berkowitz struck again. Judy Placido and Salvatore Lupo are shot while sitting in a parked car around the corner from a disco.  Fortunately, they both survived.  New York was now in a frenzy. Fear gripped the entire city. The New York Daily News and WABC-TV offered a $10,000.00 reward for the arrest and conviction of the murderer. 

Another fire was lit by Berkowitz yet again it was not linked to the shooting, and a week later another murder. In the very early hours of July 31, 1977 Berkowitz parked his Ford Galaxy Sedan, in front of a fire hydrant in Bath Beach section of Brooklyn.  He watched from a distance as a police officer ticketed his car, her cursed at himself for being so careless, but his mind was more set on murder than the parking ticket and he continued towards his victims. 

He was so lost in his own thoughts that he ran into a middle-aged woman who was out walking her dog at 2:00 a.m. who got a really good look at him. Berkowitz continued into a nearby park where he sat on a swing and watched the couples make out.  His selected his victims but then had to change plans when they abruptly drove off, so he chose again.  Berkowitz watched Stacy Moskowitz and Robert Violante making out in the playground for almost an hour.  He would later admit he was sexually aroused.  After the couple returned to the car, Berkowitz walked up to the passenger side window, and fired four shots from the .44 Caliber Bulldog.  Stacy was fatally wounded. Robert Violante was shot in the face. He would lose one eye and most of the sight in the other but survived.  Berkowitz then put his gun in a bag and ran like hell to his car.  The police went into high gear.  A new description, given by the dog walker and a couple in another car, was released describing the killer as clean shaven, white male, 25 to 30 years old, 5’8″ to 5’9″ inches tall, 165 to 175 pounds, dark almond-shaped eyes, dark wavy hair, a sensuous mouth, high cheekbones  A pretty close description of David Berkowitz. They also recalled that he had received a parking ticket. 

In August Berkowitz took a trip to The Hamptons, on Long Island, whilst continuing his harassment of Craig Glassman.  On August 6th, he set a fire on the front steps of Glassman’s apartment that included unfired bullets that exploded in the heat. Glassman contacted the Yonkers police, who were already  investigating Berkowitz for a possible connection to other letters sent to area residents, including Sam Carr’s letters and the Cassara’s get well card.  

On August 9th Brooklyn Police Detective James Justus contacted the Yonkers police station to ask them to get in touch with a Mister David Berkowitz about a parking ticket.  Sam Carr’s daughter, Wheat, was on phone duty that day and recognized Berkowitz’s name.  She told the detective of her and her father’s suspicions and they acted immediately.

 The next morning policemen from Yonkers, Westchester County and NYC, heavily armed and with search warrant in hand surrounded the apartment building where Berkowitz was living. At the same time Glassman appeared on the street, deciding to check out the car owned by Berkowitz to see if he could get any evidence against him. He was approached by 10 policemen as he peered through a window into Berkowitz’s car. Glassman explained to police his suspicions that compounded what the others had said about him.  With that, the police proceeded to search David’s car.  On the front seat there was a beige duffle bag with what appeared to be the butt of a rifle sticking out.  On the dash board there was another letter, 

Because Craig is Craig, so must the streets be filled with Craig (death) and huge drops of lead poured down upon her head until she was dead–Yet the cats still come out at night and mate and the sparrows still sing in the morning. 

Also found in the car was a reference to the aborted Long Island attack and plans for a mass murder at one of South Hamptons upscale discotheques.  If he had carried it out his plan, it would have been a blood bath. At 10:00 a.m. Berkowitz left his apartment building and entered his car.  Police surround his vehicle with guns drawn.  Other headed into the man’s apartment. They found the walls covered in strange poetry and scrawled references to Sam Carr, his dog and Craig Glassman. The end was anticlimactic and Berkowitz surrendered without a struggle.  His words upon his capture were

Well, you got me.  How come it took you such a long time?

 

Under heavy guard, Berkowitz was escorted to the Golden Street Station and booked for the murder of Stacy Moscowitz and the attempted murder of Robert Violanti. He smiled ever so slightly to the cameras. He felt like a rock star  When asked why he killed, he told the police that:

 Sam a 6000 year old man, who was actually a fallen angel come to earth to destroy, and his 1000 year dog commanded him to do so.  

Outside the courthouse, where he was being arraigned on murder and attempted murder charges, a crowd chanted, Kill! Kill!  Inside, Berkowitz, with his court appointed attorneys, stood in front of Judge Richard Brown while bail was denied. Judge Brown ordered the killer to undergo psychiatric testing at Kings County Hospital because he claimed that he was under the opinion that Berkowitz may have been insane. He was later arraigned for two murders and five attempted murders in Queens and two murders and one attempted murder in the Bronx.  He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The court appointed two psychiatrists, Dr. Daniel Schwartz and Dr. Richard Weidenbachker, to examine Berkowitz.  After examining the letters, looking at photographs and spending a total of eleven hours of interviewing the killer, the doctors decided that he was an incapacitated person and would be unable to assist in his own defense. Berkowitz was a master manipulator. He spoon fed them exactly what they wanted to hear. Their diagnosis was that he was suffering from paranoia. The 6000 year old demon and his side-kick the 1000 year old talking dog story convinced them that he was indeed crazy.  They didn’t say that Berkowitz didn’t understand what he did was wrong, because he clearly did.  They based the finding on the fact that he repeatedly made it clear that the outcome of the case was of little interest to him.  At one point he stated, 

If I go to court, I’ll say, If you lock the door and throw away the key, I’d like that very much. 

This finding did not sit well with Brooklyn’s District Attorney  Eugene Gold and he retained Dr. David Abrahamsen, an authority on criminal behavior, to re-examine Berkowitz. After thirty days of examination, he came to the conclusion that Berkowitz had basically talked himself into believing in the demons, that he was lying to himself and that they were a product of his conscious, deliberate thoughts; they came at his beck and call.  He was their creator rather than their subject. His diagnosis greatly differed from the other Doctors: Psychopathic personality with malingering concomitant paranoid and hysterical traits with acting out.

On October 20, 1977 Judge Starkey rejected the findings of the Kings County staff psychiatrists and declared that Berkowitz was fit to stand trial.  However the trial was delayed due to ongoing psychiatric examinations of Berkowitz and subsequently the killer professed to have found Christ and decided he would take his punishment like a man.

A second competency hearing was held in April and still he was declared sane and a trial date was set.  On May 8th 1978, in front of three Supreme Court Justices David Berkowitz declared himself guilty of all the crimes. Sentencing was scheduled for May 22, 1978 but Berkowitz was appear in a very different state. On May 22nd, while waiting to enter the court room Berkowitz went berserk. Jimmy Breslin, a reporter for the New York Daily News and recipient of some of David’s bizarre letters, described the scene as follows: 

This little ball of suet sat in a 7th floor office of the chief court officer.  He was in handcuffs chained around the middle and had a dozen guards.  Now he detonated.  From this fat, weak little body there came an eruption of power from a cave, a glacier, a swamp.  He threw guards against the walls and trampled them, and with a scream from the bottom of his stomach he rushed for the pale light of the window.   At 11:20 Berkowitz, agitated and upset, was dragged, chained and manacled into the court room.  He  was chanting, loudly  Stacy is a whore, Stacy is a whore.  I’ll shoot them all.   Mrs. Moskowitz hurled back at him, You’re an animal! and left the court in tears.  Berkowitz was thrashing around and bit one of the guards.  

The court was in an uproar, bedlam ruled and sentencing was rescheduled for June 12th. This time he was sedated prior to sentencing and had been warned to behave himself.  He received 547 years, 25 to life on each count of 2nd degree murder (in NY State 1st degree murder is reserved for cop killers).  He was sent to Attica, before moving to Sullivan to serve out his sentence.

 

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