David Berkowitz terrorized New York City by killing six people and wounding seven others in seemingly random shootings from July 1976 to July 1977. In his first major TV interview in a decade and his only interview about the 40th anniversary of his arrest, Berkowitz — who is serving six consecutive life sentences — speaks out to CBS News correspondent Maurice DuBois about what led him to kill, his life before he turned into a murderer, and what his life is like in prison today.
NEW YORK MAYOR ABRAHAM BEAME [Press conference]: We ready?
CBS NEWS ANCHOR ROGER MUDD: That’s a question New Yorkers have been asking themselves a lot lately. Are we ready? For another blackout, or a bus hijacking, or a bombing or another murder by the .44 Caliber Killer.
MAYOR BEAME [press conference: I know that I’m not usually known for any public exhibitions of temper, but I want you to know I’m damned angry.
CBS NEWS ANCHOR ROGER MUDD: The city is preoccupied with the killer who in one note signed himself as “The Son of Sam.” … He is compelled to kill
MAN: I think people are really shook up.
MAN: People won’t come out at night. They’re really scared
CARL DENARO | “SON OF SAM” SHOOTING VICTIM: The whole city was kind of like in lockdown. No one stayed out past 10 o’clock.
SAM ROBERTS | FORMER CITY EDITOR, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: People were terrified.
WOMAN [News report]: The girl was covered in blood.
ROBERT VIOLANTE |“Oh my God, oh my God, we’ve been shot, we’ve been shot.” I should have been dead.
DENARO: I guess on one hand I was happy to be alive. A lot of people died from the same gun.
ROGER MUDD | CBS NEWS: He struck again over the weekend, shooting a young couple in a Brooklyn lover’s lane and today the girl died. The killer’s sixth victim. He’s wounded seven others.
WOMAN: It’s just scary, it’s frightening. When you’re walking, people just look over their shoulder.
MAN: That’s all they do, is talk about, the killer.
ROGER MUDD | CBS NEWS: He walks up to strangers, usually couples in parked cars, and shoots them with a large bore revolver.
REPORTER: Police say they are no where near solving the case.
JOHN KEENAN | CHIEF OF DETECTIVES: If you’re asking whether we have any indication of who he is or where he might be, the answer is no.
NEYSA MOSKOWITZ | VICTIM’S MOTHER: To do this to a young girl and a young boy, he’s not human.
SAM ROBERTS | FORMER CITY EDITOR, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: He was writing about a dog that talked to him and gave him orders to kill.
JIMMY BRESLIN | NY DAILY NEWS COLUMNIST: I mean he just was going out 30 nights a month looking for someone to kill.
CAPT. JOSEPH BORELLI | “SON OF SAM” TASK FORCE: He terrified the city. I mean, I’ve never seen people like that.
DAVID BERKOWITZ | CONVICTED SERIAL KILLER: Yeah, I see that people will never understand where I came from, no matter how much I try to explain it. They wouldn’t understand what, what it was to walk in darkness.
THE MAKINGS OF A KILLER
MAURICE DUBOIS | CBS NEWS: I remember we were an hour away from the city. And everybody was afraid. After all that to find out that this was a, sort of a, you know, people describe him as this chubby, shy, lonely guy, who had the whole city buckling at its knees — afraid. It’s a strange sensation.
SHAWANGUNK PRISON | WALLKILL, N.Y.
DUBOIS [Awaiting Berkowitz’ arrival]: Serial killer’s about to walk in here and talk with us. …I think there he goes right there. That looked like him right?
DAVID BERKOWITZ | “SON OF SAM”: Hello, God bless you.
DUBOIS: Maurice DuBois.
BERKOWITZ: It’s an honor to meet you, sir.
DUBOIS: Thank you for talking with us.
BERKOWITZ: Sure, OK, it’s a big step.
DUBOIS: It’s a step?
BERKOWITZ: Yeah, I have my misgivings and nervousness and all these other things. But uh…
DUBOIS: Sure, understood.
THE CHAPEL | SHAWANGUNK PRISON
DUBOIS: Is this a special place for you?
BERKOWITZ: Yeah it is. It’s a place of refuge.
BERKOWITZ: Refuge from the storms of life. If you know anything about prison, there’s a lot of storms. It’s not exactly a happy place. In prison men are walking around carrying a lot of pain. I know I have a lot of pain inside me over you know, things that happened and um, this is a place where you can come and pour your heart out to God.
BERKOWITZ: My name is David Berkowitz and I’ve been locked up since the time of my arrest — just under 40 years.
DUBOIS: You just turned 64.
BERKOWITZ: Yeah. I just turned 64. Yeah.
DUBOIS: How do the guys look at you, how do they see you, how do they perceive you?
BERKOWITZ: Some guys really again, because of the passing of time they’re not even familiar with the case or anything. They may have heard about it. But it doesn’t … I’m just another face in the crowd. No special attention, no special anything, that’s the way I want it to be.
DUBOIS: I want you, if you will, to take me through what it’s like. Just tell me what your life is like.
BERKOWITZ: Uh, well, in prison there’s a routine. You know, you can get up in the morning whenever you want … Some guys go to work assignments. Some guys go to classes. I go later on to the library where I work in the morning as a clerk in the prison’s library.
THE LIBRARY | SHAWANGUNK PRISON
DUBOIS: Do you read the [news] papers yourself?
BERKOWITZ: Yeah some of them when I have time.
DUBOIS: When you have time?
DUBOIS: What do you mean when you have time?
BERKOWITZ: Yeah, this is a pretty busy place.
DUBOIS: I thought you had nothing but time.
BERKOWITZ: Ha, ha, ha.
DUBOIS [referencing computer in library]: So, this is not internet connected.
BERKOWITZ: No this is not. This is a closed system.
DUBOIS: And have you ever used the internet?
BERKOWITZ: No. Never have. No.
DUBOIS: Or a smartphone?
BERKOWITZ: Oh yeah, I don’t.
DUBOIS: Or an app?
BERKOWITZ: That’s all space age stuff to me. I’m from the dark ages. The old rotary phones. You know, when I left, tokens on the subway you know, yeah?
DUBOIS: It was 1977 again.
BERKOWITZ: Yeah, yeah.
DUBOIS: In a sense. Right?
NEW YORK CITY | 1977
SAM ROBERTS | FORMER CITY EDITOR, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: In the summer of 1977, New York lost its mind. Well this was a city that looked like Berlin after the war. It was devastated. There were abandoned buildings. There were waves of arson in which people were afraid to go to bed at night. We had a blackout in which 3,000 people were arrested.
WOMAN [News report]: It makes you really want to throw up when you look at what’s happening. And we got to live here. There’s no place for us to go.
ROBERTS: We had the FALN, the Puerto Rican terrorist group, planting bombs in department stores. We had a record heat wave. George Willig, a mountain climber from Queens climbing up the outside of the World Trade Center… You know it was a very, very different time and people were afraid to walk around.
ROBERTS: You know, 1977, among other things, was the year that Studio 54 opened. It was a time of sexual liberation. Perhaps the last gasps of the anything goes sexual revolution.
WOMAN [News report]: I like to disco. As a single woman, I feel safe here.
ROBERTS: This was the era of “Saturday Night Fever.” It was that throbbing music that became the backdrop for all the wacky behavior that was going on in the city at the time, including a murder spree by a serial killer.
CBS NEWS REPORT: In New York, early this morning, a mystery deepened and a manhunt intensified. A young couple was shot and wounded while sitting in a parked car.
CBS NEWS REPORT: Most of the victims have been young women, with shoulder length dark brown hair who were gunned down as they sat in parked cars or walked the sidewalks in the Bronx and Queens.
BILL CLARK | NYPD HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: You’re dealing with a crazy guy. You go up to two innocent girls sitting in a car and shoot them, or a guy and a girl in a car and you shoot them for no reason. I wanted to know why he did what he did. That’s the one thing about all of these girls in these cases and guys, they did nothing to contribute to their own demise. They were sitting, talking to each other and this guy killed them.
BERKOWITZ: I mean grew up in the Bronx. I had good times and bad times. I had some struggles over certain issues that happened … but I also had times of adventure when I played ball with my friends … it was many ways a normal childhood … but I also wrestled with self-destructive behavior.
BERKOWITZ: Well, when I was about 4 or 5, I learned that I was adopted. When I asked about who my parents were at birth. My dad and mom, well meaning, told me that my mother died while giving birth to me … Later on I found out that of course, she was alive and well. We had a wonderful reunion.
DUBOIS: It wasn’t even true what they told you.
BERKOWITZ: Yeah, they meant well because they were told by the experts that’s what you tell an adopted child … when they naturally ask questions. Looking in retrospect, that characterized much of my life. I struggled with a lot of depression as a child, and obsessions with death because I thought I deserved to die.
DUBOIS: So take me to when your 14, your mom dies.
BERKOWITZ: Yeah, it was a difficult time. Yeah, well, just when you lose someone that you love is a sense of mourning. I tried to put it out of my mind. I was carrying around a lot of guilt … I was carrying around a lot of shame that I deserved to be punished. I can’t explain those things.
DUBOIS: For your mom’s death?
BERKOWITZ: Yeah. Maybe I was angry at God, and then, well, my birth mother, and then of course, my adoptive mother, too. You know I found it very difficult.
DR. HARVEY SCHLOSSBERG | PSYCHOLOGIST [News report]: The victim that is selected usually satisfies something at a fantasy level. A punishing mother, or could be a wife … and so every time he commits the crime against the person that has this thing, he’s satisfying his basic need of getting back at the original individual that he had difficulty with.
BERKOWITZ: You know it was just a challenge but I ended up doing OK. It was my dad really kept on me to finish school. I graduated from Christopher Columbus High School in 1971, and then I joined the Army.
BERKOWITZ FRIEND: He went into the service and a drastic change took place. A different man came out than went in.
REPORTER: What do you mean a different man went out. How did he change?
BERKOWITZ: I went to Korea. I’ll never forget that. You see the advertisements on TV of the guys jumping out of planes, and all these exciting things. You find out Army life is kind of mundane and routine. I just turned 18, I’m trying to find my way in life. I wanted to see the world.
BERKOWITZ FRIEND: A man that went in relatively mellow, relatively peaceful — turned around and became a man that was more interested in the fantasy in the world than the reality.
BERKOWITZ: After I got out of the service, I went to look up a lot of old friends. Guys I used to hang out with and things. I found everybody pretty much moved on in the three years I was absent. So I came back to find I was on my own kind of, you know.
BERKOWITZ: And I wanted to eventually get my own apartment. You know, I wanted to find a girl, maybe get married, and raise a family. I had all kinds of normal, perfectly normal hopes and dreams.
DUBOIS: What would you tell 23-year-old David Berkowitz today?
BERKOWITZ: Uh, turn around before it’s too late because destruction is coming, you know.
THE KILLINGS BEGIN
CBS NEWS REPORT: Berkowitz lived in Yonkers, north of New York … Police described him as a loner. His neighbors discussed their impressions with CBS News correspondent Bill McLaughlin:
BILL MCLAUGHLIN | CBS NEWS: He seemed strange to you?
YONKERS RESIDENT: Not strange. When he came in, you know, he spoke what’s happening and everything but…
BILL MCLAUGHLIN: He was friendly then?
YONKERS RESIDENT: Yeah he didn’t seem strange. I never suspected him in this building out of every building in Yonkers, he’s in 35 Pine street, you know, that shocks me.
DUBOIS: So you’re living in Yonkers. You move up to Yonkers.
DUBOIS: You have an apartment up on the seventh floor? 7E. It’s a nice spot. You’re looking out over the Hudson River.
BERKOWITZ: Yeah. The building was not in any way peaceful.
DUBOIS: It was not that way? What was it like?
BERKOWITZ: It was just chaotic. It was just a strange place. There was a strange spirit there.
YONKERS | NEW YORK
DUBOIS: He lived right here in this building … It used to be number 35, they changed the number in hopes of, maybe make people feel a little better.
YONKERS WOMAN: They don’t recognize where the building is then I say, “Do you remember Son of Sam? Oh, I know where the building is,” so they know.
DUBOIS: Yeah, so people are familiar with it.
YONKERS WOMAN: A lot of people know what happened.
DAVE GORMAN | NEIGHBOR: It’s still hard to believe someone like that exists in this world, I mean, who goes around killing people, I don’t know anybody like that.
YONKERS MAN: You try not to think of things like that. People in the neighborhood that knew him said, you know, he was you know, very cool with the kids. Give them ice cream. Things like that. And he was a functional man.
DUBOIS: Just another guy.
YONKERS MAN: Yeah.
DUBOIS: What about the idea that he shot Sam Carr’s dog right behind here?
BILL CLARK | NYPD HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: This dog, his master, is a 6,000-year-old being talking to him through this dog, and he’s begging for blood.
SAM CARR RESIDENCE | YONKERS, NEW YORK
DUBOIS: The dog got on Berkowitz’ nerves. Apparently the dog barked too much, Berkowitz could hear him from his window. He tried to kill the dog, the dog didn’t die. And then he said, in his own twisted way, that the dog told him to kill.
DUBOIS: So Berkowitz lived on the top floor. He had a clear view, right into the back yard here where the dog lived, owned by a guy named Sam Carr. Hence the name “Son of Sam.”
BERKOWITZ: I wasn’t comfortable there. I felt very isolated; I didn’t really have much of a social life. …I started to get into a lot of satanic stuff. So I really was opening myself up to some very dark forces.
CLARK: It’s not like he had a friend or anything. There was nobody. He had a hole in the wall in the apartment where it said that Mrs. something or other and her kids lived in the wall. You know, he was certifiably nuts.
BERKOWITZ: There was a battle going on inside me.
DUBOIS: In your head?
BERKOWITZ: Uh … wherever, you know, just a battle going on.
DUBOIS: I guess, so here’s the thing, here’s a Christian man, who’s had loving parents, a man who knows right from wrong, who’s very thoughtful, um yet at some there you killed two people to start this whole thing.
JULY 29, 1976: JODY VALENTI, WOUNDED | DONNA LAURIA, KILLED
CBS NEWS REPORT: She was 18 year old Donna Lauria who was sitting in a parked car with a friend late at night, when her parents heard the shots.
MICHAEL LAURIA | DONNA’S FATHER: I ran down, by the time I got down, she was dead in the street.
MICHAEL LAURIA: My daughter was 18 years old and that’s what he took out of my heart, 18 years.
BERKOWITZ: It was a very troubled time
DUBOIS: Right. But then you did it again?
OCT. 23, 1976: CARL DENARO, WOUNDED
It started off as a typical Friday night, we drove to 159th and 32nd Avenue, and basically we started making out, and like two minutes later. Yeah, I was shot in the back of the head but you know, on the top. The windows just shattered. I had pieces of glass all over my arms. I didn’t know I was shot but I knew something terrible had happened. The skull was blown away … The only thing protecting my brain from the outside world was a flap of skin.
BERKOWITZ: Well, things happened, but that’s it, you know.
DUBOIS: And then again.
NOV. 27, 1976: DONNA DIMASI, WOUNDED | JOANNE LOMINO, WOUNDED
DUBOIS: Then we get to November, we have Demasi and Lomino, they’re shot.
CAPT. JOSEPH BORELLI | “SON OF SAM” TASK FORCE: They’re standing on a stoop and he walks up and he fires at them.
DUBOIS: At this point…you have nothing. What are you thinking?
BORELLI: We’re thinking, “We got a tough case here.”
CBS NEWS REPORT: Police have been engaged in an intensive hunt for a man known as the .44 caliber killer. … There’s widespread apprehension that his crime spree is not over.
DUBOIS: I mean it just kept going for more than a year.
BORELLI: The hardest cases in the world for a homicide detective are strangers — stranger on stranger. You have very little to go with, because you don’t have a motive, you may not have any witnesses, right? So, you’re at a dead standstill.
DUBOIS: Was there any common thread with all of these, families, victims of “Son of Sam?”
CLARK: …the common thread was these were — they’re, you know, 20-year-olds, they’re young you know, they’re children.
JAN. 30, 1977 | CHRISTINE FREUND, KILLED
DUBOIS: We’ve got Christine Freund… Again this shooting, is there any suspicion?
CBS NEWS REPORT: At least two witnesses say the gunman walked up to the car, crouched then fired four shots.
BORELLI: One of the detectives come over to me and he says, you know that’s a big bullet, he says and we had a shooting in the 105 with a big bullet and they also had one in Queens. So that stirred me up a little bit.
CBS NEWS REPORT: The .44 bullet is big, nearly twice as big as the conventional .38 caliber police handgun ammunition. The .44 is designed they say, to kill.
MARCH 8, 1977: VIRGINIA VOSKERICHIAN, KILLED
DUBOIS: Then we get to March — Virgina, the student.
BORELLI: Shoots her right in the face.
BORELLI: Starts to get a little curious now because that shooting is only a block away from where Christine Freund was murdered.
BORELLI: We don’t really get into the serial killer until the incident in the Bronx.
APRIL 17, 1977: VALENTINA SURIANI, KILLED | ALEXANDER ESAU, KILLED
DUBOIS: April 17th, 1977.
BORELLI: That will go down in infamy.
DUBOIS: Until then you just hard a series of shootings without any real sense.
CLARK: …Again we were having, you know .. At that time, I don’t know, probably 1,500 homicides a year. …The big thing about this one was the .44 caliber bullets.
DUBOIS: Now, it’s not just a bullet.
BORELLI: He left a letter to me.
“I AM THE SON OF SAM”
CAPT. JOSEPH BORELLI | “SON OF SAM” TASK FORCE: I was home in bed and I got a call … “Looks like our boy.” “Why?” “Big bullet. Big bullet.” So now, I got dressed and I went to the Bronx.
APRIL 17, 1977
MAURICE DUBOIS | CBS NEWS: You get to the scene, you get this letter. You read the letter. What do you think?
BORELLI: To me, it looked like some kind of a psychopath wrote this letter.
BORELLI: “Mr. Borelli, sir, I don’t want to kill anymore. No sir, no more, but I must honor thy father. …I am deeply hurt by your calling me a woman hater. I am not, but I am a monster. I am the Son of Sam.”
BERKOWITZ: As far as I’m concerned, that was not me. That was not me. Even the name, I hate that name, I despise that name.
DUBOIS: Which name?
BERKOWITZ: That moniker, Son of Sam. That was not … That was a demon. That was a demonic entity that I was serving in my ignorance, in my shame.
BORELLI: …This is no longer a city case. This is now going to get nationwide attention
CBS NEWS REPORT: No one in the city of eight million knows who is next.
DUBOIS: If you had it to do all over again, what would you change?
BERKOWITZ: Those terrible things that happened would have never happened.
JUNE 26, 1977: JUDY PLACIDO, WOUNDED | SALVATORE LUPO, WOUNDED
CBS NEWS REPORT: In New York, early this morning the “.44 Caliber Killer” tried to kill again.
BERKOWITZ: It was just … a — a break from reality, thought I was doing something to appease the devil. I’m sorry for it, but I really don’t want to talk about it anymore because —
DUBOIS: Appease the devil?
BERKOWITZ: At this time I was serving him. I was serving him. I feel that he had taken over my mind and body. And I just surrendered to those very dark forces, I regret that with all my heart but that was like 40 years ago.
BILL CLARK | NYPD HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: Effectively it was him winning over us each time he got away with it.
CBS NEWS REPORT: The only substantial clues so far have been two letters, including one mailed to the New York Daily News.
DAVE MARASH | WCBS: The killer chose Jimmy Breslin, as his conduit to a larger public.
SAM ROBERTS | FORMER CITY EDITOR, NY DAILY NEWS: Jimmy Breslin was a great columnist for the New York Daily News. He was sort of the voice of the people, came from Queens, related to people on a very visceral level, and it was no accident that the Son of Sam killer started writing to him.
ROBERTS [READING LETTER]: “Hello from the gutters of NYC which are filled with dog manure, vomit, stale wine, urine, and blood. Hello from the sewers of NYC which swallow up these delicacies when they are washed away by the sweeper trucks. JB – I’m just dropping you a line to let you know that I appreciate your interest in those recent and horrendous .44 caliber killings.”
DUBOIS: In ’77 is when the newspapers, you know, started to cover this — the “.44 Caliber Killer.”
DEBOIS: Son of Sam. You would see this stuff. It was in the newspaper, on the TV, on the radio. It was everywhere.
BERKOWITZ: I don’t want to discuss that.
ROBERTS: Well, when we realized that this was an authentic letter that he had sent to the Daily News, on one level, we were thrilled because it gave us access to the killer…
ALEXANDER COCKBURN | VILLAGE VOICE WRITER: What I though was one of the most disgusting episodes I’ve seen in journalism
JIMMY BRESLIN: You suggesting murder isn’t a big story?
COCKBURN: I think murder as a big story became in the papers it was blown ludicrously out of proportion and with very unhealthy social results.
BORELLI: Jimmy Breslin wrote one to him figuring that would trigger Berkowitz to respond again… And I didn’t mind that because, as I said, the more he responds, the more the opportunity for us to solve the case.
ROBERTS: Jimmy was engaging in this written dialogue with the killer for any number of reasons. One, because there might be more clues as to his identity, and two, because it was an ongoing tabloid story that obviously would sell newspapers.
JIMMY BRESLIN: He just was going out 30 nights a month looking for someone to kill.
DAVE MARASH | WCBS: Did you ever have a moment saying,’ Geez, did I cause this, did this column trigger this nut?”
CLARK: I mean there was no question that the police department was put under a lot of pressure by the press.
CARL DENARO | SHOOTING VICTIM: A slow “Son of Sam” news day would be seven or eight pages.
BORELLI: Detectives would walk out and they’d have a TV crew follow them.
CBS NEWS REPORT: The New York mafia is trying to track the killer down.
DENARO: The press stoked Berkowitz but it also incited 20 million people.
WOMAN: We used to stay in front of my house and park and kiss goodnight but we can’t do that no more.
CBS NEWS REPORT: An element of fear pervades neighborhoods which have not known fear before.
MAN People wouldn’t come out at night. They’re really scared. And I mean when they’re scared that’s all they do is talk about the, the killer.
NEWS REPORT: Civilian patrolling has stepped up in the neighborhood, some women in the area are terrified particularly ones with shoulder length dark brown hair.
WOMAN: People going out cutting their hair and dying it.
BORELLI: They were bleaching their hair, becoming blondes
CLARK: Literally, at night sometimes a thousand, 2,000 guys who were just out there patrolling looking for this guy.
BORELLI: Those phones rang 24 hours.
DUBOIS: You guys were everywhere, you shut down lovers lanes.
BORELLI: I think all the motel owners in the city loved us, we forced everything indoors.
ROBERT VIOLANTE | “SON OF SAM” SHOOTING VICTIM: I’m leaving my house and I’m walking down the steps of my house. My mom turns to me and she says, “Robert, be careful.”… And I turned around and the next thing I said was, I’ll never forget this, “Ma, don’t worry. I’m going out with a blonde tonight.”
THE HUNT FOR A KILLER
CBS NEWS REPORT: Good evening. In New York, early this morning, the “.44 Caliber Killer” tried to kill again. Robert Violante, 20 years old. Stacy Moskowitz, also age 20. Blonde. Both shot twice in the head as they sat in their car near the ocean on the Brooklyn section of New York. It was their first date.
JULY 31, 1977: STACY MOSKOWITZ AND ROBERT VIOLANTE
ROBERT VIOLANTE: She was just a very lively, bubbly, alive, full of life, young lady.
MAURICE DUBOIS: Now. it’s Saturday night, the 31st of July 1977?
VIOLANTE: Correct. And uh, we went to see a very popular movie back then. …”New York, New York” with Liza Minnelli. …It was a great movie and it was just a great night.
DUBOIS: What happens after the movies?
VIOLANTE: So now, we decide … to drive to one of the, as they call it, a lover’s lane.
VIOLANTE: Now we’re sitting there a couple of minutes, and we’re just talking, kissing a little bit, and talking and uh … Stacy turns to me and said, “Robert, you know what, I’m getting a little nervous.” …She said, Robert let’s go and I said, “Five more minutes” and in that five minutes is when we got shot.
VIOLANTE: I’m screaming now … blowing the horn … “Help us, help us we’ve been shot, we’ve been shot!” The horn died.
DUBOIS: What do you remember from the shooting itself?
VIOLANTE: The bullet totally destroyed the left eye and most of my right eye and uh, you know…full of blood. …I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t see Stacy sitting right next to me… I heard some moaning coming from Stacy.
CBS NEWS REPORT: This evening, hospital officials said, Miss Moskowitz remains in critical condition after eight hours of surgery. She is given a 50/50 chance of living. Violante’s condition is guarded. He has lost the use of his left eye and probably will retain only 10 percent of the vision in his right eye.
REPORTER: What can you tell me about your son?
PASQUALE VIOLANTE | ROBERT’S FATHER [in tears]: I brought him up the right away. Good boy, never any trouble. Never involved with any dope, never involved in any arrest. What can I say?
REPORTER: You told him to say out of Queens…
PASQUALE VIOLANTE: I told him to stay out of Queens. He said, “Dad I’m gonna stay out of Queens ,” cause he used to go to Queens. He said I’ll do it for you and mom. I’ll hang around in Brooklyn. And that’s where they found him [punches wall].
BILL CLARK | NYPD HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: Violante — I remember his father was distraught, just totally distraught, because he had seen the results of what had happened to his son.
VIOLANTE: He was my best friend in the world. He was there for me every minute of the day when I was in the hospital … I think it was my dad that told me about Stacy.
CBS NEWS REPORT: At 5.22 p.m. Monday, Stacy Moskowitz stopped living. The doctors said they had not turned off the life support it was just that the horrible damage done by a 44 caliber bullet in the brain was too much.
ANTHONY ROBINSON | STACY’S FRIEND: She wasn’t worried you know, because she says you know “I’ve got blonde hair,” you know. I told her I don’t know how many times, to be careful.
NEYSA MOSKOWITZ: My daughter is dead, but I would die right here and now to see this man punished …. To do this to a young girl and a young boy. I lost a child, that woman has a son that’s blind. To do this to young people, he can’t be normal. He’s not normal.
VIOLANTE: That’s the saddest part, that I never got to really know Stacy.
DUBOIS: You still think about it to this day.
VIOLANTE: Yeah, that was, really, really the sad part.
DUBOIS: But when Stacy Moskowitz was killed, Berkowitz got a ticket for parking his car in front of a fire hydrant.
CLARK: Yeah, There was a woman there who said, “I did see somebody get a summons by a fire hydrant in front my house.”
BORELLI: We immediately started looking at the summons.
BORELLI: They run the plate and the plate number comes back to David Berkowitz, his address in Yonkers.
CLARK: It comes out to David Berkowitz, 35 Pine Street. They now decide again thinking it’s a witness to call him.
CLARK: So they call the Yonkers Police Department. The girl on the switchboard, she says ‘Who to” – “David Berkowitz — 35 Pine Street.”
CLARK: She said “that guy’s crazy, he shot my father’s dog , I know that guy.” What’s your father’s name?” “Sam Carr.”
BORELLI: Wheat Carr, who’s Sam Carr’s daughter. Lives next door to David Berkowitz, owns the dog that Berkowitz shot.
CLARK: So, you know, that was like, all of these things fell in, in one phone call.
BORELLI: Everybody’s antenna goes up.
CLARK: When they get up there, they swing by his house and they see his car, they look in the car and they see a letter to the Suffolk Police Department and they see a duffle bag that had a gun in it and a big rifle and here comes Berkowitz with a little brown paper bag, with his .44 gun in it he goes to the car and they jump him.
BORELLI: And he says “you got me.” He says “I’m the Son of Sam.”
AUGUST 10, 1977
CBS NEWS REPORT: At about one this morning, 24-year-old David Berkowitz, who detectives believe is the Son of Sam, was brought to police headquarters in Manhattan. … He was wearing frayed jeans and a sports shirt and he was smiling, slightly.
VIOLANTE: “They caught him, they caught him, they caught he piece of garbage.” I’ll never forget that. My friend Nikki.
DUBOIS: What’d you say?
VIOLANTE: I was so elated, so happy. I said “thank God he’s off the streets. He’s not gonna ever be able to hurt anybody else again.”
DENARO: I really can’t describe how I felt. It was I guess a little bit of everything. A little bit of excitement, a little bit of relief, a little bit of closure. When I saw the front page I was like wow, I didn’t expect him to look like that.
CBS NEWS REPORT: Police ran ballistics tests this morning on the .44 caliber gun they say Berkowitz bought from someone else who got it in Texas.
BORELLI: It’s an infamous gun … I can picture the damage that this thing did. When you looking at the scene of the crime.
FRANK MCLAUGHLIN | FORMER NYPD SPOKESMAN: The ballistics section has just called and told us that the .44 caliber gun we recovered tonight, has been tested and the bullets match the bullets we recovered from Stacy Moskowitz.
REPORTER: What does this mean?
FRANK MCLAUGHLIN: It means we have the gun that killed Stacy Moskowitz.
DUBOIS: I mean, these were beautiful young people.
BERKOWITZ: I understand that, but again, there’s no — that’s just the way things turned out. It’s regrettable but that’s it.
DUBOIS: Did you do all these crimes alone?
PAIN AND REFLECTION
MAURICE DUBOIS | CBS NEWS: Now years later, he tells everyone that he was part of a cult … and he was merely one of the shooters.
BILL CLARK | NYPD HOMICIDE DETECTIVE: You know, he’s wacky. I mean, you know he’s… For him to say he’ was part of a cult, it was just something he came up with like everything else, you know.
BERKOWITZ: I felt that there were demons with me, that was, I will have to save that for another time.
DUBOIS: But you were the sole person who pulled the trigger, correct?
BERKOWITZ: Uh, well, a lot of things would have happened in that case but I take responsibility you know and that’s it, yeah.
DUBOIS: You take responsibility for all the “Son of Sam” murders.
BERKOWITZ: Yeah, right. Yeah.
DUBOIS: There was nobody else involved?
BERKOWITZ: Let’s put it this way, there were demons and that was it.
DUBOIS: You leaving the door open or is that —
BERKOWITZ: Well one day maybe I might have a chance to share more, but we’ll leave that at that, you know.
CAPT. JOSEPH BORELLI | “SON OF SAM” TASK FORCE: We shot all that down. And I think I told you, the biggest claim to fame, when they used to say that, the cult, I’d say, did we have an incident after we locked up Berkowitz?
DUBOIS: The killings stopped.
BORELLI: Did the killings stop?
CLARK: For him to say years later that he was part of a cult, you know, it’s just more attention. That’s all it’s about with him.
DUBOIS: But here are people who believe it.
CLARK: I’m just telling you, the people that say they believe in it never interviewed David Berkowitz. They never sat the way I did with him.
DUBOIS: In this room?
CLARK: In this room, in this corner.
DUBOIS: Step back for a second. You walk in. You lay eyes on him. What are you thinking, what do you see, what does he look like?
CLARK: First I’m looking at him to see what he looks like. I say, “What happened here — how did this start?”
CLARK:Thirty minutes he goes from beginning to end, tells me the whole story. He was relaxed.
DUBOIS: What kind of demeanor? He was saying this with a straight face?
CLARK: Oh, he was talking about it the way you were talking about making a pastrami sandwich. …To just talk about it like that was scary. I thought — absolutely felt he was certifiably wacky. And I thought they would just put him in an institution.
CBS NEWS REPORT: The accused killer is now undergoing a court ordered psychological examination at the Kings County Medical Center in Brooklyn, where he will be held in maximum security for up to 30 days.
DR. DANIEL SCHWARTZ: He will engage in a normal psychiatric examination.
BORELLI: Dr. Schwartz … he was a court-appointed psychiatrist, to analyze him to see if he was fit to stand trial. And he determined he was fit for trial… so this insane business, that goes out the window.
WALTER CRONKITE | CBS NEWS: There was no outward sign of emotion, no expressed remorse today as David Berkowitz pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn New York court to six random “Son of Sam” murders — slayings which terrorized New York for more than a year.
DUBOIS: You show up in court when Berkowitz was going to be sentenced for the first time?
ROBERT VIOLANTE | SHOOTING SURVIVOR: Yeah.
DUBOIS: He said some foul things about Stacy.
VIOLANTE: Oh, yeah.
CBS NEWS REPORT: To a weird nursery rhyme-like tune, Berkowitz who had never known Stacy Moskowitz, saying “Stacy was a whore.” Mrs.Moskowitz bolted out of her seat and screamed back “You animal!” … and then Robert Violante, Stacy’s date the night she died. rose and shouted “You creep!”
VIOLANTE: I reacted, “Go f— yourself, you piece of s—. You should die. You should rot in hell.” I just went off on him. I just went off on him in the courtroom.
CBS NEWS REPORT: Robert Violante explained his courtroom outburst. “Total anger, total anger. That’s it, just total outrage and I really couldn’t control myself.”
CBS NEWS REPORT: Three weeks after his wild courtroom outburst which led to a delay for further psychiatric evaluation, David Berkowitz again judged competent to face sentencing, arrived to learn his fate.
CBS NEWS REPORT: Berkowitz who just turned 25, was given a total of six sentences for murder of 25 years to life.
DUBOIS: What do you say to the victims’ families, to the victims who are still living today?
BERKOWITZ: Well, I’ve, I’ve apologized many times and I just always sort of let them know that I’m very sorry for what happened and, eh, I wish I could go back and change things. And I hope these people are getting along in life as best as possible. I never forget where I came from, and what my situation was like some four decades ago. People that were hurt, people that are still in pain, suffering the loss because of my criminal actions. And I never forget that. Sometimes that weighs very heavy on me. Yeah, yeah.
CARL DENARO | SHOOTING SURVIVOR: It kind of took over my personality and wherever I went everything would just stop and … you’d just hear whispering, “That guy that got shot by Son of Sam.” And it got to the point where it became disturbing for me and I really felt like I was losing my identity.
VIOLANTE: I didn’t have any children cause I never got married, never had any children, unfortunately. He ruined not just my life, 12 other lives, plus their families. So, how do you forgive something like that, somebody like that? You don’t.
DUBOIS: What do you think about the irony, I mean, here’s a kid who lost his mom at 14 and you think about the depth of the pain you felt and then years later because of you.
BERKOWITZ: Yeah, sure, right.
DUBOIS: People have that same kind of pain, seven others injured for life
BERKOWITZ: Um hmm .
DUBOIS: How does that strike you?
BERKOWITZ: It’s very painful, it’s very painful, I carry around the pain too, not the same kind, but one that I’m aware of what happened, you know yeah. I draw comfort, um, if you can call it that, from — from reading about it in scriptures about some of the, uh, well-known Bible characters that, ugh, did very bad things and how God forgave them and God was able to use them in very special ways very unique ways and they became what we call champions of the faith.
BERKOWITZ: The Lord did a lot of work in my life that’s why I try so hard in my messages to give a cautionary tale to young people about not getting involved in Satanism or the cult or those kinds of things because I feel that they too could maybe take a bad path
DUBOIS: Does it give you satisfaction to reach young people?
BERKOWITZ: Yeah, sure.. I have a calling to just write to encourage young people from all walks of life. It’s something I do on my own, in my spare time and, eh, I get a lot of satisfaction out of it and, eh, most of all I believe that that’s what God has called me to do.
DUBOIS: Berkowitz is a born-again Christian, he’s a minister in prison, he takes a lot of pride in helping people, that’s his thing, what do you think of that?
CLARK: I think that’s a lot better road to go down than serial killer.
DENARO: You’re in jail, what else do you have to look forward to? You might as well. “Yeah, I found God, why not,” um, I really think he did, you know that doesn’t mean he’s exonerated.
VIOLANTE: If he’s trying to do better with other prisoners, so be it. That’s God’s way of probably making him understand how wrong and bad of a person he was. Now, God’s giving him a second chance to do right by other people, but it still doesn’t change the fact of how I feel.
CLARK: I’ll never forgive him
DUBOIS: Why not?
CLARK: Why not? Because he snuffed out six people’s lives, ruined another seven, plus all the families involved. For people that didn’t do anything to him. You know, didn’t bump into him didn’t say nothing to him. So, I just can’t forgive him.
DUBOIS: When you look at the front picture like that, these are two yous — there are two pictures of you.
BERKOWITZ: Right, that’s right, Umm hmm.
DUBOIS: What do you see?
BERKOWITZ: I see the old man and I see the new man of Christ. I see one man that was tormented by demons and I see a man that has the peace of God radiating from him. That’s where I’m at now. That’s the way I was always supposed to be, a man of hope.
DENARO: What is a life worth, I don’t know, that’s not my job. But Mr. and Mrs. Lauria might feel totally different, you know. They lost their daughter 40 years ago.
DUBOIS: Does parole — is that attractive to you at this point?
BERKOWITZ: As a realistic hope, I don’t see any hope for parole, no.
BORELLI: Personally I feel there has to be justice for the death of those people and that’s the justice, life in prison.