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Every ‘Son of Sam’ Murder That Terrorized New York City

Josh St. Clair
Photo credit: Netflix

From Men's Health

  • David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) appears in the second season of Netflix’s Mindhunter
  • Berkowitz was convicted for six murders in New York City and received six life sentences
  • The killings had spawned one of the largest manhunts in the city’s history


It was the year of terror in New York City: 1976. Men and women were being shot on the street and in parked vehicles across three boroughs. With fear lingering in the air, the summer turned to winter, and the winter turned to summer again, and the killings didn't stop. After 13 months and one of the largest manhunts in the city’s history, police arrested a man sitting in his car, just outside his Yonkers apartment. That man's name would eventually go down infamy: David Berkowitz.

As it turns out, Berkowitz was the one leaving notes for police, signing off each one as “Son of Sam.” He eventually said voices told him to commit the murders, and that no one could understand him.

In total, six men and women were killed, and several more were injured in over a dozen attacks.

Here’s how the killings unfolded.

Who is David Berkowitz?

Photo credit: Hulton Archive - Getty Images

Berkowitz was born in 1953 and immediately given up for adoption. He was raised by foster parents in the Bronx, before joining the Army at 18 and serving in Korea. Berkowitz was honorably discharged and then moved back to New York, where he began working in the Bronx Post Office. Four months later, he attacked his first victims. He was 23 at the time of the first murder.

When were the killings?

Photo credit: Michael Brennan - Getty Images

1976

July 29

Two women, Jody Valenti and Donna Lauria, were shot in the Bronx. They were sitting in a parked car when a man—who we now know to be Berkowitz—opened fire. Lauria died instantly, but Valenti survived.

October 23

Carl Denaro and Rosemary Keenan were shot at, also in a parked car. Both survived, despite Denaro suffering a gunshot wound to the head.

November 27

Donna DeMasi and Joanne Lomino were shot while walking home from a movie in Queens. A man had followed and then began firing at them. Both survived. Lomino, however, was paralyzed.

1977

Photo credit: New York Daily News Archive - Getty Images

January 30

Christine Freund and John Diel were sitting in a parked car in Flushing, when a man approached the car and shot them both—Freund was killed. The killer was then dubbed the “.44 Caliber Killer” by New York Newspapers, named after his murder weapon of choice. The victims, to this point, were all between 18 and 26 years old.

March 8

Virginia Voskerichian was walking back from a Barnard College class when she was shot in the face, dying instantly.

April 17

Valentina Suriani and Alexander Esau were both shot and killed in the Bronx. The killer left a letter at the scene, signed “Son of Sam”

May 30

The killer sent a letter to the New York Daily News, directly goading detectives.

June 26

Judy Placido and Sal Lupo were shot at in Queens on their way home from a disco. Placido was shot three times, but both she and Lupo survived the attack.

July 31

Robert Violante and Stacy Moskowitz were shot in Brooklyn. Moskowitz was killed from a shot to the head, while Violante was left partially blinded. They had been sitting in a parked car on their first date.

August 10

David Berkowitz was arrested in Yonkers, sitting in a car outside his home.

1978

Photo credit: New York Daily News Archive - Getty Images

May 8

Berkowitz pleaded guilty to six counts of murder.

He's currently serving out six life sentences at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in New York.

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