Thirty years is a long time, and yet for many people not long enough. Today, Sunset Parker reminds us, marks the thirty-year anniversary of the first of the Son of Sam killings, one of the most notorious murder sprees in Gotham's history.
On July 29, 1976 19-year-old Jody Valenti and 18-year-old Donna Lauria were both shot dead with a .44 caliber Charter Arms Bulldog revolver outside of Lauria's apartment in the Bronx. While the shooting didn't garner much attention at the time it marked the beginning of a 54-week spree which got international attention and scared the bejesus out of many New Yorkers. As the shootings, and media attention, began to expand "the .44 Caliber Killer" as he was known began to communicate publicly with the police and the press (most famously with Jimmy Breslin at the Daily News). Here is one of his more famous letters, errors and all, to the NYPD which is still truly scary:
I am deeply hurt by your calling me a weman-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 our 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 kills" commands father Sam. Behind our house some rest. Mostly young - raped and slaughtered - their blood drained - just bones now. Pap 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 wavelength then everybody else - programmed to 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 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 prettiest of all. I must be the water they drink. I live for the hunt - my life. Blood for papa. Mr. Borelli, sir, I don't want to kill any more. No sur, 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 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 interpreted as - bang, bang, bang, bang - ugh. Yours in murder, Mr. Monster.
To cut the chase, David Berkowitz was arrested as the "Son of Sam" on August 10, 1977 after receiving a parking ticket near the scene of one of the shootings. When he walked out of his apartment in Yonkers to a squad of cops he famously asked "What took you so long?"
Berkowitz was later sentenced to six consecutive life sentences for the killings - though there are some that believe Berkowitz didn't act alone and the case is technically still open. You can read more about the killings here, and we actually quite liked Spike Lee's Summer of Sam.
Finally, in other anniversary news MTV debuted 25 years ago this Friday in northern New Jersey with the Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star." Draw your own conclusions.
Photograph of David Berkowitz in 2003 via Wikipedia.