David Berkowitz: the Son of Sam or the .44 caliber Killer
On the summer night of July 29, 1976 shots rang out in a New York City neighborhood. This marked the beginning of the .44 caliber or the Son of Sam murders. His reign of terror would grip this city and its surrounding areas for over a year. Sadly the Son of Sam whom was eventually identified as David Berkowitz a severely disturbed young man that fell under the several theories of crime causation. In his early life he felt awkward and scorned by his peers because of being adopted and his appearance. These feelings would later follow him into his adult life and as referred by Bardsely (n.d.)”, he would be creating fantasies that would crowd out reality and eventually David lived in a world populated by the demons his mind had created,” (22. The Blood Monster, para. 5). Further reading and research of the Son of Sam uncovers that he would have had the potential to find his way into the theories of labeling and psychological criminal causation.
David Berkowitz was born Richard David Falco in Brooklyn, New York. His mother who was involved in an affair immediately gave the child up for adoption. Within the week of his birth he was adopted by Nathan and Pearl Berkowitz. While growing up under their care he began to show some characteristics of his violent tendencies that were to come. Although his parents provided and loved him he was known his neighborhood for having a violent streak, he assaulted neighborhood kids for no apparent reason. He was hyperactive and very difficult for Pearl and Nat to control (Bardsely, n.d.). Then the tragedy that many wuld say pushed him further down his diluted path struck. Pearl had a recurrence of breast cancer in 1965 and 1967. The disease and chemo dissipated Pearl to a very meager state that was very difficult for David to handle. Then in the fall of 1967 Pearl died. It was at this time that the delusions began to take form in his mind.
After Pearl’s death David deteriorated into almost a state of paranoia. He acted out by becoming more involved in petty larceny and pyromania. His state of mind was that of a very disturbed young man because he began to believe that her death was the part of some plan to destroy him. During this period of time Nathan re-married and things became even more turbulent for David as his relationship with this woman was very strained. In an effort to escape these feelings of anger, frustration, and strain from his family life David joined the army in the summer of 1971 for three years. During this time he had his only consummated sexual experience with a woman. She was a prostitute in Korea. He contracted a venereal disease as a souvenir (Bardsely, n.d.).
Before the delusions escalated to murder David began a spree of arson fires. He set 1,488 fires and kept a diary of each one. This was part of his control fantasy. He felt as if there was no control in his life but when he lit these fires he had control of even society. Yet the fires would only ease his delusions for some time. In the Fall and Winter of 1975 began David’s cry for help as referred in Bardsely (n.d.), David's state of mind in November was very bleak when he wrote to his father in Florida: "It's cold and gloomy here in New York, but that's okay because the weather fits my mood -- gloomy. Dad, the world is getting dark now. I can feel it more and more. The people, they are developing a hatred for me. You wouldn't believe how much some people hate me. Many of them want to kill me. I don't even know these people, but still they hate me. Most of them are young. I walk down the street and they spit and kick at me. The girls call me ugly and they bother me the most. The guys just laugh. Anyhow, things will soon change for the better.” (20. Cry for help, para. 1). Yet no one seemed to hear his cries. He barricaded himself in his apartment only to leave for food at this time. His bizarre fantasies drove him to start write such...
References: Montaldo, C. (n.d.). David Berkowitz - The Son of Sam. About.com: Crime/Punishment. Retrieved from http://crime.about.com/od/murder/p/sonofsam.htm
VonFrederick Rawlins, l.c.m. (2005). Theories of Crime Causation. The VonFrederick Group. Retrieved from http://www.vonfrederick.com/pubs/Theories%20of%20Crime%20Causation.pdf
Bardsely, M. (n.d.). Son of Sam. Tru tv Crime Library. Retrieved from http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/serial_killers/notorious/berkowitz/letter_1.html
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