Son of Sam Murders
Son of Sam Murders
The first of the Son of Sam murders occurred on the morning of July 29, 1976. Two young women, Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti were talking in a car outside of Lauria’s apartment building in the Bronx, New York City. Lauria noticed a man standing outside of the passenger side of the car. The man pulled out a handgun from a paper bag and fired into the car five times. Lauria died immediately, while Valenti was shot in the thigh. Valenti ran out of the car, screaming for help. Lauria’s father ran out of the apartment and rushed the two girls to the hospital. Valenti managed to give a description of the attacker, but due to her panic, her description was lacking in accuracy.
A succession of brutal murders and assaults followed. All of the victims were attractive young women who were either killed or permanently injured. The only evidence suggesting that the murders were connected was the style and matching bullets. Unfortunately, this was the only evidence that police had. There was nothing that could pinpoint a specific person.
A press conference was held to announce that the murders were indeed connected, and that the only lead was a description given to the police. The murdered was a “white male, twenty-five to thirty years old, six feet tall, medium built, with dark hair.” The Operation Omega task force was organized by Deputy Inspector Timothy Dowd. The purpose of the operation was to find and stop the murderer before he killed anyone else. The murderer did strike again on April 17, 1977, but this time the killer left a letter addressed to Captain Borrelli of the New York City Police Department, a key member of the Operation Omega group. This letter gave the police the “name” of the killer, the “Son of Sam”. With the many misspellings, the letter read:
“Dear Captain Joseph Borrelli, I am deeply hurt by your calling me a women 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 too 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. 'Ugh, me hoot, it hurts, sonny boy.'
I miss my pretty princess most of all. She's resting in our ladies house. But I'll see her soon.
I am the 'Monster' -- 'Beelzebub' -- the chubby behemouth. I love to hunt. Prowling the streets looking for fair game -- tasty meat. The women of Queens are prettiest of all. It must be the water they drink. I live for the hunt -- my life. Blood for papa.
Mr. Borrelli, sir, I don't want to kill anymore. No sir, no more but I must, 'honor thy father.' I want to make love to the world. I love people. I don't belong on earth. Return me to 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. I say goodbye and goodnight. Police: let me haunt you with the words:
I’ll be back! I’ll be back!
To be interpreted as- bang bang bang bang, bang- ugh!! Yours in murder Mr. Monster.” The letter did not have any useful fingerprints due to the envelope being handled too many times. The letter leaked into the press in early June, dubbing the murderer as “Son of Sam”. Around mid-April, a retired city worker named Sam Carr received an anonymous letter about his black Labrador, complaining about its barking. Two days later, another letter in the same handwriting came in the mail:
"I have asked you kindly to stop that dog from howling all day long, yet he continues to do so. I pleaded with you. I told you how this is destroying my family. We have no peace, no rest. Now I know what kind of a person you are and what kind of a family you are. You are cruel and inconsiderate. You have no love for any other human beings. Your selfish, Mr. Carr. My life is destroyed now. I have nothing to lose anymore. I can see that there shall be no peace in my life, or my families life until I end yours." Carr and his wife called the police, but they did nothing. About ten days later, Carr heard a gunshot from his backyard, and discovered his dog bleeding on the ground. A man wearing jeans and a yellow shirt was running away. The dog was saved by a veterinarian, and an investigation on the letters began. At the time, no one thought to link the letters together.
At this time, Operation Omega was growing in size. It consisted of some of the finest cops in New York. The hours were long, but the detectives involved worked to the best of their abilities to catch the self-proclaimed “Son of Sam”. The list of suspects grew longer and longer while psychiatrists and detectives worked together to find out what type of person they were looking for.
During this activity, Son of Sam wrote another letter, this one to Jimmy Breslin, a reporter for the Daily News in New York. It stated: "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. Hello from the gutters of NYC, which is 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. Don't think because you haven't heard [from me] for a while that I went to sleep. No, rather, I am still here. Like a spirit roaming the night. Thirsty, hungry, seldom stopping to rest; anxious to please Sam. Sam's a thirsty lad. He won't let me stop killing until he gets his fill of blood. Tell me, Jim, what will you have for July 29? You can forget about me if you like because I don't care for publicity. However, you must not forget Donna Lauria and you cannot let the people forget her either. She was a very sweet girl.
Not knowing what the future holds, I shall say farewell and I will see you at the next job? Or should I say you will see my handiwork at the next job? Remember Ms. Lauria. Thank you.
In their blood and from the gutter-- 'Sam's creation' .44" The Daily News was forced to leave out a portion of the letter, which gave a list of “names” to help the detectives in their search. On June 10, Jack Cassara found an odd letter in his mailbox. It was a strange get-well with a picture of a German shepherd, the note read:
"Dear Jack, I'm sorry to hear about that fall you took from the roof of your house. Just want to say 'I'm sorry' but I'm sure it won't be long until you feel much better, healthy, well and strong: Please be careful next time. Since your going to be confined for a long time, let us know if Nann needs anything. Sincerely: Sam and Francis." Cassara had never fallen off his roof, and had never met the people called Sam and Francis Carr. After contacting the two, he decided to visit them in their home later in the evening. The Carrs told the Cassaras about the strange letters they had received about their dog, and about a German shepherd who had also been shot.
Cassara’s son, Stephen, remember an odd guy who had rented a room in their house for a brief period of time in 1976. He stated: “He never came back for his $200 security deposit when he left. Well, he was always bothered by our dog, too.” The man’s name was David Berkowitz. The Carrs and Cassaras contacted the police with the information, certain that Berkowitz was the Son of Sam. The detectives considered him, but had no outstanding evidence that pointed to Berkowitz as the killer.
On June 26, 1977 and July 31, 1977 Son of Sam took his last victims. Concerned detectives started to seriously investigate David Berkowitz, and discovered that he appeared to be extremely similar to the descriptions on the Son of Sam. The detectives sent the information to their boss, and eventually to the Operation Omega task force. All of the evidence seemed to point to David Berkowitz. After the detectives gave their information, a neighbor of Berkowitz reported that he had received letters from him that were similar to the Son of Sam letters. Despite all this information, Operation Omega still refused to act on it. After much insisting from those who had evidence against Berkowitz, Operation Omega finally decided to monitor his actions more closely. On August 10, the arrest was made. The day of Berkowitz’s arrest, he was interviewed about the shootings; after giving all the details, there was no doubt that he was the Son of Sam.
His interviewer, Sergeant Joseph Coffey, was amazed by Berkowitz. Berkowitz was calm and polite while describing his handiwork, and after the interview was over he politely wished the sergeant, “Good Night.” David Berkowitz claimed that he was possessed by demons that tormented him. He gave into them hoping they would go away if he does what they asked. What they asked him to do was kill. In all of this, Sam Carr was the host of a powerful demon named Sam. When he called himself the “Son of Sam” this was the Sam he referred to.
Berkowitz was classified as a paranoid schizophrenic by the defense psychiatrists, but he was still considered to be fully capable of standing trial. Berkowitz pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 365 years in jail. He attended a hearing for parole, but stated that he just wasn’t ready to leave prison, and that he didn’t deserve it anyway. He has had parole hearings since then, but is still living in prison.
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