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 Metropolis from 1976 to 1977, remodeling a sprawling metropolis into one outlined by worry, whereas creating technology of metropolis dwellers terrified to go away their residences. Out of America’s many serial killers, few are higher identified or have been extra extensively publicized than David Berkowitz. However what if our understanding of this case has been improper? What if the Son of Sam murders weren’t the work of 1 man, however a bunch of males? Or what if our obsession with reexamining chilly instances is definitely poisonous? Netflix’s Sons of Sam: A Descent into Darkness doesn’t simply analyze this a number of killers idea, it does so whereas inspecting the police impotence on this case — in addition to how simple it was for one man’s obsessive seek for the reality to show into mania.
Earlier than understanding how Sons of Sam turns this well-known case on its head, it’s essential to grasp 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. Each survived. However the assault most New Yorkers and true crime followers know greatest is the shootings of Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti.
Round 1 a.m. on July day in 1976, the pair had been sitting in Valenti’s automobile, speaking. That’s when a person approached the automobile, pistol in hand. Lauria died immediately. Valenti survived her damage. That additionally turned the right phrase for what New York did subsequent: survived.
The Son of Sam assaults had been all related. All of them passed off in New York boroughs, particularly Queens and the Bronx. Younger girls with lengthy hair had been focused. Particularly, the killer appeared fixated on white girls with lengthy, brown hair. This terrifying commonality led to numerous New York girls taking to salons and chopping their hair.
Altogether, Berkowitz was liable 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. Moreover the Son of Sam was liable for injuring Carl Denaro, Donna DeMasi, Joanne Lomino, Salvatore Lupo, Judy Placido, and Bobby Violante.
Including to this mass hysteria had been the letters left within 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 primary time “Son of Sam” was used, and it wasn’t lengthy earlier than native newspapers, hungry for any information of this terrifying killer, revealed items of the letter. That wasn’t the one letter. Each day Information columnist Jimmy Breslin, who had been avidly protecting this string of murders, acquired a private letter from somebody who claimed to be the .44 Caliber Killer.
Berkowitz was lastly caught when a neighborhood resident known as police after witnessing a mysterious man with a darkish object in his hand. That decision led to police investigating Berkowitz’s automobile. The contents within the car had been sufficient to implicate Berkowitz because the Son of Sam. When confronted with two cops pointing their weapons at him, the convicted felony reportedly mentioned, “Effectively, you bought me.” Berkowitz rapidly 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 face trial and was sentenced to 6 consecutive life sentences.
These 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. Whereas working at IBM, Terry turned obsessive about the case. He believed that David Berkowitz didn’t act alone however was as a substitute one member of a bunch of three to 4 males liable 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 of the crimes Berkowitz was accused of and implicated for are laid out, it’s onerous to consider that one man could possibly be liable 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 doable Berkowitz may have been performing as a part of a bunch, or there may have been copycat criminals who terrorized New York alongside him. Regardless, the docuseries does make an argument that the authorities closed this case too rapidly.
However exploring Terry’s analysis isn’t actually about uncovering the reality. As director Joshua Zeman explains, it’s a deep dive into how simply swayed folks may be due to the media. Extra importantly, it’s additionally an exploration into how one man’s all-consuming obsession value him every part. Terry turned so satisfied that his conspiracy idea was proper that he really interviewed Berkowitz whereas he was in jail. Throughout that interview, Berkowitz chastised Terry for letting their interview go on too lengthy and mentioned, “Maury, the general public won’t ever, ever actually consider you, regardless of how effectively your proof is introduced.” In brief, convicted serial killer David Berkowitz is the voice of purpose on this docuseries. That’s saying a hell of lots.
Sons of Sam: A Descent into Darkness is a radical look into certainly one of America’s most chilling serial killer instances. However greater than anything it’s a warning about our true crime obsessions. Watch with a grain of salt, each on the subject of police accounts and extra importantly Terry’s theories.