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David Richard BERKOWITZ

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


A.K.A.: "Son of Sam" -  "The .44 Caliber Killer"
 
Birth name: Richard David Falco
 
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Claimed that neighbor's dog, Harvey, was possessed by an ancient demon, and that it issued commands to Berkowitz to kill
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: 1976 - 1977
Date of arrest: August 10, 1977
Date of birth: June 1, 1953
Victims profile: Donna Lauria, 18 / Christine Freund, 26 / Virginia Voskerichian, 21 / Valentina Suriani, 18, and Alexander Esau, 20 / Stacy Moskowitz, 20
Method of murder: Shooting (.44 caliber Charter Arms Bulldog revolver)
Location: New York City, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to six life sentences in prison on June 12, 1978, making his maximum term some 365 years behind bars
 
 

 
 

Victims
 

Unknown female,
Christmas eve, 1975,

Stabbed from behind. Never reported, female survived.

Michelle Forman, 15,
Christmas eve, 1975,

Stabbed from behind. Female survived.

 

      

Donna Lauria                                          Jody Valenti

Donna Lauria 18y (killed) and Jody Valenti 19y (wounded),
July 29, 1976.

On 29 July 1976, two young girls, 18-year-old Donna Lauria and 19-year-old Jody Valente were sitting in Jody's car at 1.am outside Donna's home.

A few minutes later after they just finished talking, Donna said goodnight to Jody and was just about to open the door when a man approached the car. He was holding a brown paper bag of which he reached into and pulled out a gun. He fired 5 shots. Donna was shot in the neck and arm, she fell out of the car and hit the pavement. Jody screamed as a bullet struck her thigh. She fell forward hitting the car horn.

Donna's father, Mike Lauria, was already on his way downstairs, taking Donna's poodle for a walk, when he heard the shots. He then quickly ran the rest of the way. He found Jody leaning on the car horn screaming.

Mike Lauria accompanied his daughter on the way to the hospital, but she was already dead. Jody was taken to the hospital, suffering from hysteria. Jody was able to give a description of the killer: a white male with curly hair, about 30 years old. She had never seen the man before in her life until that day, and she knew it wasn't one of Donna's ex-boyfriends out for revenge.

The neighbours reported that they saw a yellow car parked a few meters back from Jody's car, but it had gone by the time the police were on the scene.

It was thought that this could of been a possible Mafia hit with a case of mistaken identity, because the area of the North Bronx is a popular Italian area. Also the police knew the weapon was a .44 Bulldog, which is a weapon solely for the purpose of killing people.





Carl Denaro

Carl Denaro 20y (wounded) and Rosemary Keenan 18y (unwounded),
October 23, 1976.

18-year-old Rosemary and 20 year-old Carl Denaro has just left a bar and drove to a quiet spot where they could be alone in the district of Queens. Carl Denaro had shoulder length hair and was mistaken for a girl by Berkowitz as he pulled out his .44 and fired it five times into the red Volkswagen. As the recoil on the gun made his aiming inaccurate only one of the fired bullets hit Carl Denaro in the back of his skull. Carl Denaro survived the attack but required a metal plate to replace the portion of his skull that was missing.





Donna DeMasi

Donna DeMasi 16y (wounded) and Joanne Lomino 18y (wounded),
November 27, 1976.

Around midnight, 27 November 1976 Berkowitz struck again in the area of Queens by attacking 18-year-old Joanne Lomino and her 16-year-old friend, Donna DeMasi.

The two girls were sitting on the front steps of Joannes homes on 262nd Street when a man crossed the road and approached them. It appeared the man was seeking directions. 'Say can you tell me how to get to...', then the man pulled out a gun from his waistband and began firing at the girls. The girls both turned towards the door when Joanne was shot in the lower spine and Donna was shot through the base of the neck. The other three shots that the gunman fired missed. A local nearby saw a man running down the street still holding the gun.

The girls were rushed to hospital. Donna was not badly injured but Joanne's spine was shattered and she would have to spend the rest of her life in a wheel chair.

The police considered that the attacker could be the man who murdered Donna Lauria and attacked Jody Valente. But due to different eyewitness descriptions of the attacker it seemed unlikely to them.





Christine Freund

John Diel 30y (Unwounded) and Christine Freund 26y (killed),
January 30, 1977.

On 30 January 1977, 30-year-old John Diel and 26-year-old Christine Freund had left a bar just after midnight and got in their Pontiac Firebird. Suddenly the windows shattered by a roar of gunfire that entered the car. After the attack the unharmed John Diel found his girlfriend slumped forward with a bullet wound to the head. She died later in St Johns hospital.

After it was discovered that the weapon was a .44 Bulldog the police connected all the attacks, but dismissed it because of the different descriptions of the assailant in each of the attacks.





Virginia Voskerichain

Virginia Voskerichain 19y (killed),
March 8, 1977.

On the 8 March 1977, 19-year-old Virginia Voskerichian was returning home in Exeter Street, Queens at around 7.30 pm when she side-stepped a man to let him pass. Just as she did he raised a gun to her head and fired, killing her instantly.

After ballistics tests on the riflings of the bullet that killed Virginia Voskerichian proved to be the same that killed Christine Freund, and that both murders were close in location it was thought that it was the same .44 killer who had done the previous four attacks. Even with the different descriptions of the attacker the police decided to start a task force - Operation Omega, to catch the .44 killer. It was announced on the 14 April 1977 and was under the command of Deputy Inspector Timothy J. Dowd.





Valentina Suriani & Alexander Esau

Valentina Suriani 18y (killed) and Alexander Esau 20y (killed),
April 16, 1977.

Son of Sam struck again on the 16 April 1977. 18-year-old Valentina Suriani and 20-year-old Alexander Esau were sitting in their Mercury Montego in the Bronx area, not far from where Donna Lauria had been killed. Suddenly the window erupted and two bullets struck Valentina in the skull killing her instantly. The next two shots hit the the top of Alexander Esau's head. He died two hours later.

The first policeman to arrive at the murder scene found a white envelope addressed to Captain Joe Borelli, who was Timothy Dowd's deputy. Eight police officers handled the letter, but even when their fingerprints had been eliminated, it appeared the killer had only used the tips of his fingers making the prints unable for a matching.

On the 30 April a letter had been sent to the New York Daily News' journalist Jimmy Breslin.




Salvatore Lupo

Salvatore Lupo 20y (wounded) and girlfriend Judy Placido 17y (wounded),
June 25, 1977.

The next attack happened on 25 June 1977 in the area of Queens. 17-year-old Judy Placido and 20-year-old Salvatore Lupo had just left a discotheque and were sitting in their car chatting about Son of Sam, when Son of Sam suddenly attacked. The shots went through a window and Salvatore was shot in the wrist which went to pass on to hit the flesh of Judy's neck. The next shot got Jody in the head but did not penetrate her skull. The next shot hit her shoulder. Salvatore jumped out of the car and ran to the discotheque. Jody, shocked, had just realised that she had been shot and headed for the discotheque, collapsing after a few steps.

They both recovered in hospital, Salvatore had a shattered wrist and Jody escaped without serious injury. A witness saw a white stocky man running from the crime scene a few blocks away.





Stacy Moskowitz
 



Bobby Violante

Bobby Violante 20y (wounded) and Stacy Moskowitz 20y (killed),
July 31, 1977.

The final attack happened on the 31 July 1977 in the district of Brooklyn.

Bobby Violante and Stacy Moskowitz had just seen a movie and at about 1.45 am parked opposite a playground and softball park under a streetlamp. They decided to have a stroll around the park. When they were walking around the park they noticed a man, a 'hippie type' leaning against the wall of a public toilet.

Tommy Zaino and Debbie Crescendo were sitting in their car and noticed the 'hippie type' man as well. Under the streetlamp where Bobby Violante had parked was the place that Tommy Zaino had just moved from as Tommy thought the streetlamp too conspicuous - an action that probably saved both of their lives.

Bobby and Stacy headed back to the car, by now the 'hippie type' man had gone. They were sitting in their car and talking and kissing for a while when suddenly Son of Sam fired three shots through their car window. Bobby's eardrums exploded instantly, he felt Stacy collapse in his arms but was unable to see her as the bullets had blinded him him also.

Tommy Zaino saw all of the happenings in his rear view mirror. "What was that?" asked Debbie as she heard the gunshots. "Get down. I think its Son of Sam," replied Tommy who immediately guessed it was the .44 Killer. Tommy Zaino had only got a quick look at the murderer.

Stacy died 38 hour laters in hospital and Bobby was left permanately blinded.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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