When 24-year-old postal worker David Berkowitz was finally caught on August 10, 1977, he had already struck terror in New York City for nearly two years. Late at night, he stalked and targeted young women, with a particular affinity for women with long, dark hair. Once the police realized they had a serial killer on their hands, he was dubbed the “.44 Caliber Killer” because of his weapon of choice. But he would become known to the world as “Son of Sam” because of the taunting letters he would send to the police and New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin. “I am a monster,” Berkowitz wrote in one letter, according to Cheryl Wills, in her book “Die Free.” “I am the Son of Sam. I love to hunt. Prowling the streets looking for fair game — tasty meat. The weman of Queens are prettyist of all [sic].”
For Berkowitz, evading police in America’s largest city was just as thrilling as the murders themselves. By the time his crime spree was over, Son of Sam had injured seven people and killed six.
Son of Sam's first attempted murders failed
Berkowitz’s first attempts at murder were on Christmas Eve 1975, according to Crime Museum. Late at night, Berkowitz packed a hunting knife and attempted to kill two women in the Bronx. The first young woman was unidentified and never reported the incident to the police, nor were there any hospital reports or dead bodies found that resembled the description of the victim.
The second was 15-year-old Michelle Forman, a student at Truman High School. Berkowitz stabbed her repeatedly in the head and in her torso. “I never heard anyone scream like that,” Berkowitz later said during an interview, according to Elliott Leyton’s book, “Hunting Humans.” “The way she screamed constantly. I kept stabbing and nothing would happen.” Her injuries were serious enough that she would be hospitalized for an entire week, Lawrence Klausner noted in his book, “Son of Sam,” but it’s not known what happened to Forman after the traumatic events of that night.
That night would have an impact on how Berkowitz would conduct his business from that point on. He was so dismayed that his first two attempts at murder didn’t result in any deaths that he swore off using a knife ever again. From that point until he was finally arrested, he would use a .44 caliber Charter Arms Bulldog revolver. Even that was no guarantee he could satisfy his bloodthirst, either, as ultimately he injured more people than he killed.
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