New York Magazine


Son of Sam Murders
August 22, 1977

When: July 29, 1976 - August 10, 1977

Why: The dog told him to.

The facts: It started when Donna Lauria was shot and killed as she sat with a girl friend in a parked car in the Bronx. By the time it was over, David Berkowitz had murdered five young women and a man and injured seven others. On August 10, 1977, he's caught — a parking ticket places him near the scene of the murder of the final victim Stacy Moskowitz. Berkowitz blames a thousand-year-old demon residing in a black dog owned by his neighbor: "Sam told me to do itů. I had my orders."

The sentence: 365 years at Attica.

The debate: "A single gun. A single killer. A case that lingered unsolved for so long as to raise questions that New York's thousands of unsolved lesser crimes—the city's normal harvest, so to speak, of every week, month, year—do not raise. Why had so many detectives failed? Whose fault was it?" — from "The Search for Sam" in the August 22, 1977 issue of New York Magazine

Seasons greetings: Jimmy Breslin, to whom Berkowitz wrote during the murder spree and may have targeted, wrote: "I heard from him a couple of years ago. He sent me a Christmas card from Attica. He had a drawing of the Devil on it. He wrote that he wished me a Merry Christmas from the Devil. He signed it David Berkowitz." —from the 25th anniversary issue of New York Magazine.