David in 2015
Robert Violante (20) - July 31, 1977 - wounded
His left eye was destroyed, with only 20% partial vision remaining in the right.
Carl Denaro (20) October 23, 1976 - wounded . . . Carl had part of his skull replaced with a metal plate.
Ritualistic Sacrifice and the Son of Sam: Satanic Worship in America’s Greatest Forgotten Garden
by Megan Roberts October 29, 2013 Atlas Obscura
Hidden away behind a great stone wall in suburban Yonkers, New York, sits a long-forgotten gardener’s masterpiece. Statues of sphinxes peek at passersby from just beyond the wall, hinting at the decaying grandeur that awaits inside Untermyer Park. 2,000-year-old imported Roman columns tower dramatically from a scenic clearing, heralding the end of a stone staircase which seems to descend infinitely; crumbling tiles line the bottom of what must have once been an incredibly elaborate mosaic pool. In their heyday, Samuel Untermyer’s gardens were applauded as a horticultural marvel, celebrated internationally and attracting droves of visitors in the 1920s and 1930s. When Untermyer passed away in 1940, the enormous cost of upkeep required to maintain his gardens was far too daunting for either the City of Yonkers or the State of New York, and the estate was left to fall into a slow decay. After decades of neglect, the early glory years of Untermyer Park are still apparent in the impressive ruins that remain, along with traces of a darker and far more sinister era that came to follow. Satanic scribblings and ominous graffiti appear on columns, towers, and decrepit walls; cryptic markings alluding to a traumatic time in New York City’s history. 1970s New York was undeniably gritty. It was a city in economic crisis, with sky-rocketing crime rates and the quality of life for city residents declining steadily. Subways and parks had become the settings for muggings and rape, corruption was widespread amongst the NYPD, and prostitution and drug dealing were all too familiar sights on city streets. Meanwhile, the western world had developed a growing infatuation with the occult, reflected in the prominent music and films of the era in which demonic possession, ritualistic sacrifice, and alleged hidden satanic messages were thematically popular. Satanic panic was a new phenomenon, with widespread fear and paranoia surrounding claims of secret underground cults and their supposed engagement in dark and sadistic rituals. In the midst of all this phobia, a series of strange occurrences involving Untermyer’s long-derelict gardens caused the park to earn a disturbing new reputation. Overnight workers at neighboring St. John’s Hospital regularly claimed to see torch flames moving deep within the woods. Strange chanting was also frequently heard, and the park’s old abandoned pump house became referred to locally as Devil’s Cave. A 1976 police report documents the finding of carefully mutilated German Shepherd bodies in the aqueduct south of the park; just one of several instances involving significant numbers of skinned and disfigured Alsatian dogs occurring in the greater New York area over the next several years. Starting in July of 1976, the year-long murder spree of the Son of Sam serial killer and Yonkers resident David Berkowitz escalated satanic phobia into an outright frenzy, holding the city of New York hostage in fear until his arrest in August of 1977. While Berkowitz initially confessed to the series of shootings, in the years following his arrest he has consistently claimed that he acted as a part of something much greater: a large-scale satanic cult with headquarters based in Yonkers, a group which Berkowitz recounted as holding frequent gatherings in the heavily wooded grounds of Untermyer Park. While his credibility is clearly questionable, it is interesting to note that several of the people that Berkowitz accused of being fellow cult members following his arrest soon came to bizarre and untimely deaths. Berkowitz claimed that the father of a neighboring Yonkers family, Sam Carr, was “the high official of the Devil’s Legion,” as well as being the owner of Harvey, the infamous black lab used as a transmitter of evil. Both of Carr’s sons, John and Michael, were also accused of heavy cult involvement and having a hand in multiple murders. The brothers each died violently within two years of Berkowitz’s arrest; John Carr in 1978 at the age of 31 from a rifle shot to the face that was deemed suicide, and 27-year-old Michael Carr in 1979 from a drunk driving accident on Manhattan’s West Side Highway. Even more odd is documentation that young Michael had a clinical aversion to alcohol and did not drink. Even without delving into the satanic cult theory, several people prominently involved in Berkowitz’s case at the time of the manhunt, subsequent arrest, and trial have been adamant about evidence indicating the existence of more than one gunman from the very beginning, including Queens District Attorney John Santucci and police investigator Mike Novotny. The case was reopened in 1996 and remains so, but with no further conclusive findings. Berkowitz is currently serving six consecutive life sentences at Sullivan Correctional Facility. He’s become a born-again Christian with his own website and has relinquished the Son of Sam title for his new moniker, “Son of Hope”. Decades later, a once prevalent fear of satanic rituals and secret occult gatherings seems a distant memory. Still, freshly ominous vandalism continues to mar Yonkers’ beautiful and long-neglected Untermyer Park. Passed down to the next generation and transformed into the substance of urban legends, our infatuation with the dark side carries on, remembered within the walls of America’s Greatest Forgotten Garden.
Sam Carr and his daughter Wheat with Harvey, shot in the hindquarters with a .44 on April 27, 1977.
Virginia Voskerichian (19) March 8, 1977 - killed
The "Son Of Sam" Trial: 1978
Great American Trials
COPYRIGHT 2002 Thomson Learning
. . . Berkowitz was arraigned in Brooklyn for the Moskowitz-Violante shooting, as prosecutors in the Bronx and Queens quickly wrote indictments against him for murders in their boroughs. The primary legal issue immediately became whether David Berkowitz was sane enough to stand trial. A psychiatric report delivered to New York State Supreme Court justices in all three boroughs on August 30 concluded that David Berkowitz was not mentally capable of assisting in his own defense and did not understand the charges against him. Psychiatrists Daniel Schwartz and Richard Weidenbacher, Jr. felt that Berkowitz was "well aware" of the six murder charges, understood that they were criminal acts, and had "the intellectual capacity" to understand the legal process unfolding against him. Yet the doctors concluded that paranoid psychosis left Berkowitz so "emotionally dead" that he was neither capable of nor interested in assisting in his own defense. Brooklyn District Attorney Eugene Gold challenged the report, obtaining court approval for Berkowitz's examination by prosecution psychiatrist Dr. David Abrahamsen. A month of interviews convinced Dr. Abrahamsen that Berkowitz's demons were "a conscious invention" he was able to control, not a psychotic disorder which controlled his actions. Abrahamsen declared that Berkowitz could understand the legal process and assist in his own defense if he chose to do so. Justice John R. Starkey agreed at a competency hearing on October 21. A week later, Justice Starkey withdrew from the case amidst a furor over controversial statements he had made to the press about Berkowitz's intention to blame his actions on the demons. A new competency hearing was scheduled for the following spring before a different judge. At the second hearing, psychiatrists Schwartz and Weidenbacher reversed their original opinion. They reported that Berkowitz's mental condition was improving from treatment. While not suggesting that he was sane at the time he allegedly committed the murders, they agreed that Berkowitz was now able to participate in his defense. Their reversal helped Judge Joseph R. Corso determine that Berkowitz was mentally fit to stand trial. Throughout the proceedings again, David Berkowitz remained determined to plead guilty, a decision he insisted was his own in spite of the advice of his "demons." His attorneys unsuccessfully tried to persuade him to plead not guilty by reason of insanity. Expectations of a guilty plea were so high that a special agreement was reached to consolidate all of the legal proceedings to a single trial venue for security and to save court costs. On May 8, 1978, in a Brooklyn courtroom, Judge Corso accepted Berkowitz's guilty pleas for the Moskowitz-Violante shooting. Justice Corso then signed a special administrative agreement allowing Justice William Kapelman of the Bronx to come to the bench. Justice Kapelman similarly turned the proceedings over to Queens Justice Nicholas Tsoucalas after accepting Berkowitz's guilty plea for three murders in the Bronx. Like the other judges, Justice Tsoucalas asked Berkowitz if he was making the guilty pleas of his own free will and wanted to know if the defendant had meant to cause serious injury to two young women he had wounded in Queens. "Oh, no, sir," Berkowitz replied. "I wanted to kill them." Judge Tsoucalas accepted Berkowitz's guilty pleas for two murders and five attempted murders. The three judges returned to Brooklyn on May 22, but postponed sentencing when Berkowitz struggled with deputies and screamed, "I'd kill them all again!" On June 12, 1978, he was sentenced to the maximum term of 25 years to life imprisonment for each of the six murders, plus additional terms for assault and attempted murder. The life terms were to run consecutively, but the New York state practice of "merging" sentences would make him eligible for parole as if he had committed only one murder. After four months psychiatric treatment, Berkowitz was transferred to Attica State Prison, where he ordered his lawyers to drop all appeals on his behalf. Negotiations for lucrative book and film projects about the case began against his wishes. Berkowitz tried to stop the deals by telling the New York Times that his stories of demons were a hoax. Ironically, even before his capture, Berkowitz had inspired a law barring him from receiving any money generated by his crimes. Anticipating that anyone committing such gruesome acts might later profit by telling his story, the New York State Legislature passed a statute popularly known as the "Son of Sam Law" in 1977. The law required that an accused or convicted criminal's income from printed or film work describing his crime be deposited in an escrow account, where it would be available to answer possible claims by crime victims for five years. Berkowitz took no interest in the money swirling around his case, but claims by his lawyers resulted in an eight-year legal battle before the New York Crime Victims Compensation Board was able to distribute royalties to his victims and their families. The "Son of Sam Law" separated memoir royalties' from famous convicted murderers like Jack Henry Abbott, Jean Harris, and Mark David Chapman. In 1986, however, publishers Simon & Schuster contested the compensation board's demand for future royalties plus $96,000 already paid to career criminal Henry Hill for revealing his misdeeds in the book Wiseguy (the basis for the film Goodfellas). On December 10, 1991, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the law was an unconstitutional "content-based" suppression of the First Amendment right to free expression. The decision left New York and 41 other states searching for acceptable wording for laws meant to protect the rights of crime victims. While his trial was the legal finale of one of the bloodiest murder sprees in American history, accepting David Berkowitz's guilty pleas meant that the issue of his sanity at the time of his crimes would never be resolved. As he began serving his time, debates over the insanity defense, the role of psychiatric testimony, and ethical questions about trying the mentally ill continued to grow.
Salvatore Lupo (20) and Judy Placido (17) June 26, 1977 - both wounded
Donna Lauria (18 years old) July 29, 1976 - killed
The Brooklyn parking ticket that led to Berkowitz's arrest.
Writings on the wall in the tabloid dubbed Satan's Lair (Apt. 7E)
"I didn't want to hurt them. I only wanted to kill them."
Letter left at the scene of the Suriani - Esau shootings
I am deeply hurt by your calling me a women hater. I am not. But I am a monster. I am the "Son of Sam." I am a little "brat". When father Sam gets drunk he gets mean. He beats his family. Sometimes he ties me up to the back of the house. Other times he locks me in the garage. Sam loves to drink blood. "Go out and kill" commands father Sam. Behind our house some rest. Mostly young—raped and slaughtered—their blood drained—just bones now. Papa Sam keeps me locked in the attic, too. I can't get out but I look out the attic window and watch the world go by. I feel like an outsider. I am on a different wave length then everybody else—programmed too kill. However, to stop me you must kill me. Attention all police: Shoot me first—shoot to kill or else. Keep out of my way or you will die! Papa Sam is old now. He needs some blood to preserve his youth. He has had too many heart attacks. Too many heart attacks. "Ugh, me hoot it hurts sonny boy." I miss my pretty princess most of all. She's resting in our ladies house but I'll see her soon. I am the "Monster"—"Beelzebub"—the "Chubby Behemouth." I love to hunt. Prowling the streets looking for fair game—tasty meat. The wemon of Queens are z prettyist of all. I must be the water they drink. I live for the hunt—my life. Blood for papa. Mr. Borrelli, sir, I dont want to kill anymore no sir, no more but I must, "honour thy father." I want to make love to the world. I love people. I don't belong on Earth. Return me to yahoos. To the people of Queens, I love you. And I wa want to wish all of you a happy Easter. May God bless you in this life and in the next and for now I say goodbye and goodnight. Police—Let me haunt you with these words; I'll be back! I'll be back! To be interrpreted as—bang, bang, bang, bank, bang—ugh!! Yours in murder Mr. Monster
[Note: NYPD Captain Joseph Borelli was the supervisor of the Omega task force charged with capturing Son of Sam.]
Letter mailed to the Daily News from Englewood NJ on May 30,1977
Hello from the gutters of N.Y.C., which are filled with dog manure, vomit, stale wine, urine, and blood. Hello from the sewers of N.Y.C. which swallow up these delicacies when they are washed away by the sweeper trucks. Hello from the cracks in the sidewalks of N.Y.C. and from the ants that dwell in these cracks and feed on the dried blood of the dead that has seeped into these cracks. J.B., I'm just dropping you a line to let you know that I appreciate your interest in those recent and horrendous .44 killings. I also want to tell you that I read your column daily and I find it quite informative. Tell me Jim, what will you have for July twenty-ninth? you can forget about me if you like because I don't care for publicity. However you must not forget Donna Lauria and you cannot let the people forget her either. she was a very, very sweet girl but Sam's a thirsty lad and he won't let me stop killing until he gets his fill of blood. Mr. Breslin, sir, don't think that because you ahven't heard from me for a while that I went to sleep. No, rather, I am still here. Like a spirit roaming the night. thirsty, hungry, seldom stopping to rest; anxious to please Sam. I love my work. Now, the void has been filled. Perhaps we shall meet face to face someday or perhaps I will be blown away by cops with smoking .38's. Whatever, if I shall be fortunate enough to meet you, I will tell you all about Sam if you like and I will introduce you to him. His name is "Sam the Terrible." Not knowing what the future holds I shall say farewell and I will see you at the next job. Or should I say you will see my handiwork at the next job? Remember Ms. Lauria. Thank You. In their blood and from the gutter "Sam's Creation". Here are some names to help you along. Forward them to the inspector for use by N.C.I.C:
"The Duke of Death"
"The Wicked King Wicker"
"The Twenty Two Disciples of Hell"
"John 'Wheaties' - Rapist and Suffocator of Young Girls."
PS: J.B. Please inform all the detectives working the slaying to remain.
P.S: JB, please inform all the detectives working the case that I wish them the best of luck. "Keep 'em digging, drive on, think positive, get off your butts, knock on coffins, etc." Upon my capture I promise to buy all the guys working on the case a new pair of shoes if I can get up the money.
[Note: Wicker Street in Yonkers is one block west of Pine Street.]
For more than just this brief account you need to read Son Of Sam by Lawrence D. Klausner (1981) and watch Summer of Sam by Spike Lee (1999) for a taste and flavor of the times.
Berkowitz's .44-caliber Bulldog was designed in 1974 and manufactured by the Charter Arms Company of Bridgeport CT. It was the first new .44 revolver introduced since the early 1900's. Smaller and lighter than any of its predecessors, it was intended to be used as a 'personal defense' concealed handgun for police. It combined maximum bullet weight and diameter with minimum weapon weight and bulk. It used a .44 Smith & Wesson lead nosed 246 grain bullet, firing at a velocity of 675 feet per second from a 3 inch barrel. The total weight of a loaded Bulldog was 18 ounces. By contrast the weight of the classic Colt .45 was 2.5 pounds - unloaded.
Donna DeMasi (16) and Joanne Lomino (18) November 27, 1976 - both wounded . . . Donna was left a paraplegic.
PineviewTowers - 35 Pine Street, Yonkers NY
David lived in Apt. 7E for 16 months. He was arrested leaving the building on Wednesday August 10, 1977. Because of the subsequent notoriety the address was later changed to 42 Pine St. and the building renamed to Horizon Hill.
Stacy Moskowitz (20) - July 31, 1977 - killed
For more on tripping the light Fandango with Beelzebub and his ilk you will want to read
The Ultimate Evil: An Investigation Into a Dangerous Satanic Cult by Maury Terry (1987).
David Richard Berkowitz (born Richard David Falco on June 1, 1953)
Valentina Suriani (18) and Alexander Esau (20) April 17, 1977 - both killed
David is currently imprisoned at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Ulster County NY.
Jody Valiente (19) July 29, 1976 - wounded
The .44 Caliber Killer, a.k.a. The Son of Sam
Christine Freund (26) January 30, 1977 - killed
From the windows of his apartment in the Glenwood section of Yonkers, David came to identify the diabolical legion infesting the neighborhood. Sam Carr of Warburton Avenue, who in mortal guise operated a telephone answering service, was in reality a 6000 year old hellspawn (also named Sam) who worked directly under General Jack Cosmo, a high demonic official. Sam had recently replaced Robert Neto (a.k.a. Joquin) of Wicker Street, who had been demoted for not obeying orders. Joquin shared his dwelling with the Duke of Death. Their next-door neighbor was John Wheaties, operating a boarding house for visiting devils. Craig Glassman, a volunteer deputy sheriff who lived directly under David in 6E, selected the targets for Son of Sam.
David was born to Joseph Kleinman and Betty Broder Falco, both married but not to each other. His mother put him up for adoption and a childless couple, Nathan and Pearl Berkowitz, took in the baby and reversed his names. He grew up in the Soundview section of the Bronx. Pearl died of breast cancer in 1967. After graduating high school David attended Bronx Community College then joined the U.S. Army in 1971, serving in South Korea and honorably discharged in 1974. He had qualified as a sharpshooter with the M-16 rifle. Nathan sold his hardware business and moved from Co-Op City to Florida in 1975. David got his own apartment on Barnes Avenue, later moving into a two-family house in New Rochelle before relocating to Pineview Towers. He committed his first attack on Christmas Eve 1975, returning to Co-Op City and using a hunting knife to stab two women. One victim was never identified by police, but the other was teenager Michelle Forman, whose injuries required her to be hospitalized. Six months later David drove to Texas to visit an army buddy and purchase a revolver. All victims except for De Masi, Lomino (both sitting on the latter's front porch) and Voskerichian (walking home alone from her subway stop) were shot in parked cars. Rosemary Keenan was with Denaro and John Diel with Freund. Both suffered superficial cuts from shattered glass. Lauria, Voskerichian, and Suriani died at the scene. Freund, Esau and Moskowitz perished at local hospitals - St. John's in Queens, Jacobi in the Bronx and Kings County in Brooklyn respectively.
On August 6, David put his Commando Mark III .45-caliber semiautomatic rifle and four 30-shot clips of hollow point rounds in a duffel bag, tucked the fully loaded .44 Bulldog into his waistband and set out for the Oak Beach Inn (known as OBI and home of the Long Island Iced Tea), a popular nightclub on Jones Beach Island near Captree State Park in the Babylon Township of Suffolk County, to make his last stand. When it began to rain heavily, he decided to go home. David would try again next Saturday night.
How Son of Sam Changed America
(David Berkowitz murdered six people before he was caught, but the tabloid war he helped start still inspires terror.)
By Cady Drell
July 29, 2016
On July 29, 1976, serial killer David Berkowitz – known as the Son of Sam – committed the first of his notorious murders in the outer boroughs of New York City. Over the next year, he would kill again five more times and injure at least seven along the way, despite being at the center of what became one of the largest manhunts in New York history. Everything about the case was bizarre. Berkowitz wrote taunting, typo-ridden letters to the police and the press, seeming to relish in the terror that gripped the city in the wake of each attack. Because he was targeting primarily young women with dark hair, sales of wigs reportedly skyrocketed. Because his attacks happened at night, once-popular discos in Queens and the Bronx became ghost towns. His eventual capture, on August 10th, 1977, made headlines worldwide, as did the revelation that he'd told investigators he received instructions to kill from his neighbor's dog. Berkowitz didn’t represent the end of an era in the way Charles Manson did; he didn’t evade capture like the Zodiac Killer; he wasn't as prolific as John Wayne Gacy. There aren’t many questions left about why a pudgy, deeply disturbed 23-year-old postal worker with abandonment issues terrorized the women of New York. But even so, the media frenzy surrounding the murders was unprecedented, particularly in the tabloids. If Watergate a few years earlier had built up any public good will toward journalists, the New York Post and Daily News had squandered most of it by the end of the Son of Sam trial. Of all the lasting effects of Berkowitz's crimes, one of the more insidious repercussions was that they helped Rupert Murdoch find a foothold in the United States. Though the Daily News was the city's more popular tabloid at the time, Murdoch purchased the once-liberal New York Post in late 1976, when he was still just a relatively unknown Australian media mogul. But he was already famous in the U.K. and Australia for his tabloid sensibilities. According to Jonathan Mahler's 2005 book Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning Murdoch had earned the nickname the "tit-and-bum king" on London's Fleet Street for his breast-centric makeover of The Sun newspaper. The first indication of the Post's new direction came in July 1977, after the New York City blackout resulted in a wave of looting and arson. Using his innate ability to know when scared people can be exploited, Murdoch ran a "Blackout Special" edition of the paper that displayed all the sensationalism and race-baiting for which he's now an icon. Though the issue got plenty of criticism – including from New York City Mayor Abe Beame, who said the Post "made Hustler look like the Harvard [Law] Review" – it sold like gangbusters. It was all the encouragement Murdoch needed to start a frantic battle of one-upmanship with the Daily News. A year before any of that, surprisingly little was made of how just after 1 a.m. on July 29th, 1976, a man carrying a paper bag approached a car where two young women were chatting. The friends, 18-year-old Donna Lauria and 19-year-old ody Valenti, had just returned from a club and were parked in the Pelham Bay neighborhood of the Bronx. The stranger pulled a .44 caliber Charter Arms Bulldog out of the bag and fired three shots, killing Lauria instantly and injuring Valenti. Though Berkowitz shot (though ultimately did not kill) four more young victims in Queens neighborhoods that year, it would take until the following January, when a young couple was attacked on their way home from a movie, for police to sense that the crimes were connected – and for the tabloids to smell blood. One of the victims in the January attack, 26-year-old Christine Freund, died of her injuries, marking the second young woman murdered by Berkowitz. Another murder in March and two more in April began a wave of fear that started in Queens and, following a massive push from the local press, crested over the rest of the five boroughs. As Mahler put it in his book: "The frenzied coverage fanned the growing sense of fear; the growing sense of fear fanned the frenzied coverage." To be fair, the police investigation was a shit-show ripe for scrutiny – the Post and Daily News were just stooping to the challenge. Fresh off a round of layoffs, the police department was ill-equipped to handle an investigation of that magnitude – especially one sparking so much public furor. At the scene of the April murders, investigators found a letter addressed to NYPD Captain Joseph Borelli – the first of the notes Berkowitz would send. In it, the killer referred to himself as “the Son of Sam” (the birth of the nickname) and suggested he was following orders from his "father." Naturally, when the Daily News got the tip, they ran it as a front-page story. Berkowitz apparently liked the attention so much that he sent a letter to Daily News' star columnist Jimmy Breslin, describing "the gutters of NYC which are filled with dog manure." The police asked Breslin to publish the note, and the paper acquiesced with a plea for the murderer to turn himself in – though not until after it ran several days' worth of teaser stories about what the letter contained. Feeling scooped, Murdoch directed the Post's Breslin-equivalent, Steve Dunleavy, to make a story out of anything he could find – even if it required the kind of U.K. tabloid tactics that, at the time, made most respectable reporters nauseous. Of course, if the Post was looking for sensationalism, there was plenty to work with: between the lack of leads and the influx of anonymous tips, police were spinning their wheels, calling in psychics and astrologers to give insight into the case and even analyzing Jimi Hendrix lyrics for clues. It's possible all the media attention provoked Berkowitz to kill again. Serial killers will sometimes use press coverage to validate further crimes, according to Dr. Ronald M. Holmes, professor emeritus at the University of Louisville in the Department of Criminal Justice Administration, who's completed over 500 criminal profiles for police departments. "I believe that the press does 'help' in the commission of some crimes, especially serial murder," Dr. Holmes explained in an email to Rolling Stone. "[Serial killers] have a sense of invincibility, and their fantasies are so strong that the news about their crimes only goes on to convince them that [they] cannot be caught and 'must' continue on with their predations." Berkowitz's final attack occurred in Brooklyn on July 31st, 1977, where he shot another young couple, Stacy Moskowitz and Bobby Violante. Somehow, Dunleavy had managed to position himself so that he arrived at the hospital alongside the victims' parents, eating the Daily News's lunch the next day with an exclusive about the "13-and-a-half hour vigil." In a Rolling Stone profile of Dunleavy from 1979, Chet Flippo wrote that the Post reporter followed up that story with "a front-page appeal to the Son of Sam to give himself up. To the Post, not the police." An eyewitness account at the Moscowitz murder scene led police to a parking ticket issued to Berkowitz, which led them to his Yonkers apartment and brought about his arrest. While in custody, he told police that he received his instructions to kill from his neighbor, Sam Carr, who communicated through his demonic dog and who himself was inhabited by the devil. Determining that this may have been a fiction to paint himself as insane, the state declared Berkowitz mentally fit to stand trial. He was sentenced to 365 years in prison and currently resides in a correctional facility in upstate New York. (He converted to Christianity in the late Eighties and now goes by the name "Son of Hope." Tapes of him giving sermons are for sale.) If police thought the fervor would settle down after Berkowitz's capture, they were giving the tabloid-reading public too much credit. The day after the arrest, the Post ran a front-page story—"CAUGHT!"—16 additional stories and, most famously, the first entry in a serialized novel that the paper claimed "may have inspired" Son of Sam. According to Mahler, four journalists, from the Post and the Daily News, but also from Time and the Washington Post – the same paper that had made journalism look so good during Watergate – were arrested trying to break into Berkowitz’s Yonkers apartment. Dunleavy got hold of some old love letters that Son of Sam sent to a girlfriend and so the Post ran a front-page story titled, "How I Became a Mass Killer." (Wrote Flippo: "Even Rupert Murdoch conceded later that the Post had gone a little overboard with that one.") In starting a modern tabloid war, Rupert Murdoch's Post reshaped the entire narrative of the killings. Sure, Berkowitz was a scary and unknowable threat, but he wasn't wildly prolific when placed in the pantheon of 20th-century serial killers. What Murdoch understood inherently is that fear sells papers. Both the Daily News and the Post moved millions of copies the day after Berkowitz was caught – far above their daily averages. Somehow the tabloids had managed to get ahead of more staid journalistic institutions, not only capitalizing on the Son of Sam murders but actually becoming a part of the narrative by communicating – sometimes directly – with the killer. Murdoch reinvigorated the kind of yellow journalism that hadn't been seen in American media in generations. "I think the Son of Sam murders really kind of broke new ground for sensationalism by the tabloid press of New York," says Mark Feldstein, a media historian and professor at the University of Maryland's Merrill College of Journalism. Though he argues that the treatment was, in some ways, a natural progression from the journalism of the time, "unquestionably Murdoch imported to the United States those hyper-aggressive, sensational tabloid tactics that he used successfully in England and in Australia. Before Murdoch, American news coverage was much more restrained, by and large." Before the Son of Sam, local crime stories were relegated to beat reporters at serious newspapers and went largely ignored by national outlets and TV newsmen, but the tabloid strategy caught on after the case. "Tabloids have always tended to highlight one particular story, and especially a hot story like that," said Feldstein. "Television didn't used to be like that so much – Walter Cronkite and these stolid newsmen turned their noses up at the down-market sensationalism. But now you have the network newscast operating much more like the tabloids." It's not that people weren't horrified by the tabloids' treatment of the case. The New York Times and the New Yorker lambasted the Post and the Daily News for their negligent handling of the story. The New York legislature preemptively pushed for a law that prevented criminals from monetizing their crimes by selling their stories – the country's first so-called Son of Sam law. The haste with which the law was passed suggests a desire to punish the media as much as the murderer – Berkowitz claimed he didn't even want to sell his story. But the sales figures that the Daily News and the Post were pulling proved that big audiences could stomach plenty of journalistic irresponsibility. While it’s hard to draw a straight line from the Son of Sam coverage to the clickbait of 2016, the similarities are undeniable: Stories only mildly relevant to the actual news getting above-the-fold attention, hot takes that are less fact and more fact-adjacent sucking all the air out of the room, shaping the way the public takes in any given story. Cable and Internet news, wildly reliant on this approach, seem like direct descendants of the new media norm that the competing dailies created around the Son of Sam. With their handling of the case, the tabloids showed that they could pad out a salacious story by harping on the parts most likely to shock and terrify – and the rest of the media hasn't looked back.