It’s uncommon for a case to hang-out a complete metropolis, however that’s precisely what occurred with the Son of Sam. David Berkowitz traumatized all of New York City from 1976 to 1977, remodeling a sprawling metropolis into one outlined by worry, whereas creating technology of metropolis dwellers terrified to depart their flats. Out of America’s many serial killers, few are higher recognized or have been extra extensively publicized than David Berkowitz. But what if our understanding of this case has been fallacious? What if the Son of Sam murders weren’t the work of 1 man, however a gaggle of males? Or what if our obsession with reexamining chilly circumstances is definitely poisonous? Netflix’s Sons of Sam: A Descent into Darkness doesn’t simply analyze this a number of killers principle, it does so whereas analyzing the police impotence on this case — in addition to how simple it was for one man’s obsessive seek for the fact to flip into mania.
Before understanding how Sons of Sam turns this well-known case on its head, it’s vital to perceive the Berkowitz murders. Berkowitz later claimed that he dedicated his first assault in 1975 when he focused an unidentified Hispanic lady and 15-year-old Michelle Forman. Both survived. But the assault most New Yorkers and true crime followers know greatest is the shootings of Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti.
Around 1 a.m. on July day in 1976, the pair had been sitting in Valenti’s automotive, speaking. That’s when a person approached the automotive, pistol in hand. Lauria died immediately. Valenti survived her harm. That additionally grew to become the excellent phrase for what New York did subsequent: survived.
The Son of Sam assaults had been all comparable. All of them befell in New York boroughs, particularly Queens and the Bronx. Young ladies with lengthy hair had been focused. Specifically, the killer appeared fixated on white ladies with lengthy, brown hair. This terrifying commonality led to numerous New York ladies taking to salons and slicing their hair.
Altogether, Berkowitz was answerable for murdering six folks and wounding 10 others: Donna Lauria, Christine Freund, Virginia Voskerichain, Valentina Suriani, Alexander Esau, and Stacy Moskowitz all died by his hand. Additionally the Son of Sam was answerable for injuring Carl Denaro, Donna DeMasi, Joanne Lomino, Salvatore Lupo, Judy Placido, and Bobby Violante.
Adding to this mass hysteria had been the letters left in the wake of those crimes. After the Esau and Suriani murders, police found a letter from the killer addressed to authorities. That letter was the first time “Son of Sam” was used, and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than native newspapers, hungry for any information of this terrifying killer, printed items of the letter. That wasn’t the solely letter. Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin, who had been avidly overlaying this string of murders, acquired a private letter from somebody who claimed to be the .44 Caliber Killer.
Berkowitz was lastly caught when an area resident referred to as police after witnessing a mysterious man with a darkish object in his hand. That name led to police investigating Berkowitz’s automotive. The contents in the automobile had been sufficient to implicate Berkowitz as the Son of Sam. When confronted with two law enforcement officials pointing their weapons at him, the convicted prison reportedly mentioned, “Well, you got me.” Berkowitz shortly confessed to all six murders. Initially he claimed he dedicated these crimes on the orders of a demon who took the type of his neighbor’s canine, although he later admitted this declare was a lie. He was discovered mentally competent to stand trial and was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences.
Those are the fundamentals of the Son of Sam case, however Netflix’s Sons of Sam is much less about David Berkowitz and extra about journalist Maury Terry. While working at IBM, Terry grew to become obsessive about the case. He believed that David Berkowitz didn’t act alone however was as a substitute one member of a gaggle of three to 4 males answerable for these crimes. He additionally believed these males had been linked by a nationwide Satanic cult.
As Sons of Sam painstakingly dissects, there’s a little bit of logic to Terry’s claims. When all the crimes Berkowitz was accused of and implicated for are laid out, it’s arduous to imagine that one man may very well be answerable for a lot destruction, particularly in a group as densely populated as New York. Then there’s the matter of the police sketches, which by no means actually matched. It’s attainable Berkowitz might have been performing as a part of a gaggle, or there might have been copycat criminals who terrorized New York alongside him. Regardless, the docuseries does make an argument that the authorities closed this case too shortly.
But exploring Terry’s analysis isn’t actually about uncovering the fact. As director Joshua Zeman explains, it’s a deep dive into how simply swayed folks may be due to the media. More importantly, it’s additionally an exploration into how one man’s all-consuming obsession price him all the pieces. Terry grew to become so satisfied that his conspiracy principle was proper that he really interviewed Berkowitz whereas he was in jail. During that interview, Berkowitz chastised Terry for letting their interview go on too lengthy and mentioned, “Maury, the public will never, ever truly believe you, no matter how well your evidence is presented.” In brief, convicted serial killer David Berkowitz is the voice of cause on this docuseries. That’s saying a hell of rather a lot.
Sons of Sam: A Descent into Darkness is a radical look into one in all America’s most chilling serial killer circumstances. But greater than anything it’s a warning about our true crime obsessions. Watch with a grain of salt, each when it comes to police accounts and extra importantly Terry’s theories.