David Berkowitz, aka The Son of Sam, murdered six people in Queens, New York, all because his neighbor’s dog told him to do it.
David Berkowitz was born and raised in Queens, New York. His parents were an unmarried young couple who were unable to take care of him so they put him up for adoption. He was born with the name Richard David Falco, but when he was adopted, his adoptive parents reversed the order of his first and middle names and gave him their last name.
Berkowitz did not show signs of being deeply troubled until after he served his second tour in the Korean war. He was honorably discharged and sent back to New York, which is when he claimed that the devil began to speak to him.
Berkowitz then spent the next year murdering six people and permanently injuring seven more. His weapon of choice was a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver, which got him the name “The .44 Caliber Killer.”
Berkowitz was not impressed with his community given name, and at the site of his final murder, he left a letter naming himself “The Son of Sam” and promising that he would continue to murder when coincidentally, he was identified by his prints and handwriting and was promptly taken to jail.
It was at this point that Berkowitz began claiming that he had been possessed by Satan and that his neighbor’s dog convinced him to murder all of those innocent people.
Berkowitz’s narrative that explained his killings stuck in court, and he was offered to plead for insanity in court. Recently, after more than 40 years in jail, Berkowitz is beginning to drop his previous testimony.
As explained in the show Mindhunter, Berkowitz was not schizophrenic, he was not unable to judge right from wrong, he was just a man who wanted to kill.
He used the media’s narrative about him to embellish his story, he created the character “The Son of Sam” to distinguish himself. In reality, he was an insecure and jealous person, whose sole interest in life was murdering young girls.
It’s difficult to think that this desire isn’t considered a mental illness in and of itself. However, in Berkowitz’s case, and numerous other serial killers for that matter, the Serial killer is generally knowledgable of the moral and ethical controversy that comes with murdering another human being.
It is the decision to commit a horrific act, fully knowing what the consequences will be, that denounces these killers as “crazy” or “possessed.” This narrative has actually enabled killers to act on their urges because of the “larger than life” profile that is generally bestowed on individuals who are serial killers.