David Berkowitz: The Son of Sam
New York City Mayor Abraham Beame called what he saw as a much needed press conference to discuss the Son of Sam case. It was the kind of name that the press would really grab on to and create a media persona. Beame dreaded the whole thing: "The killings were a horror. The police were under terrible strain. Everyone was beginning to question his ability to capture the gunman. The letter fused everything together. It was a man against an entire city. He had written this one policeman, but I knew it wasn't that captain he was writing about. It was every cop who was after him, all twenty-five thousand of them."
Dr. Martin Lubin, former head of forensic psychiatry at Bellevue, along with some 45 other psychiatrists, convened to contribute to the psychological profile of the man they were seeking. In May of 1977, the police knew they were looking for a paranoid schizophrenic, who may have considered himself possessed of a demonic power. The killer was almost certainly a loner who had difficulty with relationships, particularly relationships with women.
The Omega task force was flooded with calls. Everyone, it seemed, knew the killer: he was the neighbor who came home late every night, the odd brother-in-law who played with guns all the time, the weird guy in the bar who hated pretty girls. The list of suspects was endless. Every one of these thousands of leads had to be checked out and disqualified — a huge chore for any task force.
While the police were chasing down every suspect, checking registrations for .44 weapons, tracing activities of former mental patients and generally running themselves ragged, the Son of Sam had become emboldened by the publicity. He decided to write to Jimmy Breslin, a reporter for the Daily News.
"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 withheld some portions of the letter at the insistence of the police. The omitted passage read: "Here are some names to help you along. Forward them to the Inspector for use by the NCIC [National Crime Information Center] Center. They have everything on computer, everything. They just might turn up, from some other crimes. Maybe they could make associations.
"Duke of Death. Wicked King Wicker. The 22 Disciples of Hell. And lastly, John Wheaties, rapist and suffocator of young girls. P.S., drive on, think positive, get off your butts, knock on coffins, etc."
Partial fingerprints were salvaged from the letter, which were of no value in finding the suspect, but would be valuable to match against a suspect once captured.