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Son of Sam: Forensic Evidence

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Emma Swabb

on 2 May 2013

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Transcript of Son of Sam: Forensic Evidence

Emma Swabb, Billy Fries, Josh Jackson, Stephanie Foster Son of Sam: Catching the .44 Caliber Killer Sam Writes to Dog Owners Letters
Parking ticket
Confession What Forensic Evidence
was Used to Solve the Crime? Rambling, hand-written letter
Left at April 17, 1977 crime scene (Suriani and Esau murders)
Addressed to NYPD Captain Joseph Borrelli
First reference to self as "Son of Sam"
Created a wave of terror in NYC due to content First Letter Left at the Scene Hand-written letter from someone claiming to be .44 caliber killer
Received on April 30, 1977 from Englewood, NJ
Sent to "New York Daily News" columnist Jimmy Breslin
Different from first letter - written more professionally
Unsure if letters were written by the same person
Police allowed them to publish letter, took out some portions
Circulation hit sales record with letter publication in paper on May 2, 1977 Sam Writes to The Daily News Suspicious complaint letters sent to Sam Carr, owner of black lab in Berkowitz's neighborhood
Dog tormenting him
Prepared to eliminate dog owner
Carr reported dog's death to police
Letters also sent to Cassara family
Contact made between recipients Linking a Parking Ticket to a Perpetrator Analyzing the Handwriting Handwriting in Carr letters and Cassara note was analyzed
"Son of Sam" and Daily News letters connected
Two sets of letters found to be similar
Unable to find fingerprints/other evidence on letters
Experts analyzed all the letters, compiled suspect profile Reviewing the Case... David Berkowitz, "Son of Sam"
Attacks in New York boroughs
December 1975-July 1977
Six murdered, seven wounded
All but first attack involved a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver
Claimed to be possessed by neighbors dogs telling him to kill women
Sentenced to 365 years in prison
Currently serving time Caught in His Car Yellow Ford Galaxy matched from ticket to scene
Police watched car at stakeout
Berkowitz got into vehicle, police approached
Placed him under arrest on August 10, 1977
Found weapons & ammunition in car and on his
person Putting the Pieces Together Cecilia Davis saw man fitting perpetrator's description take ticket off of a car and speed away
Called NYPD, who believed Berkowitz could be important witness
Detective James Justus called Yonkers police to get in contact with Berkowitz
Wheat Carr answered phone, told of her suspicions about Berkowitz
Led to stakeout of Berkowitz's home Berkowitz Confesses Competent or Not? Originally put into psych ward, not straight to prison
Differing opinions of psychiatrists
Symptoms later determined to be fabricated, he made up his delusions
Ressler interview, February 1979
Plead guilty, sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for each murder (365 years)
2nd degree murder, attempted murder in the 2nd degree
Moved from Attica to Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York after serving about a decade in Attica "Well, you got me. How come it took you such a long time?" - David Berkowitz Charter Arms .44 caliber Bulldog revolver used in attacks
Discovered crimes were connected due to ballistics matching bullet striations
Able to link previous four attacks/murders with high probability after March 18, 1977 murder (Virginia Voskerichian)
Bullet matched the bullet obtained from Donna Lauria attack
Bullets ultimately matched to barrel of gun found in car Arrested at 35 Pine Street, Yonkers - outside of home while getting into his car
When asked name, responded "I am Son of Sam"
Re-read his rights at the station before being interviewed
Interview lasted 45 minutes
Berkowitz was calm and compliant when answering
Gave details of murders that only perpetrator would have known In Summation... Murders committed in NYC area, originally thought to be unrelated
Connected with ballistics, case similarities
Berkowitz identified after letters, parking ticket, sketch
Arrested during stakeout of his home
Matched a gun found in car to that used in attacks
Not insane, fit to enter guilty plea
No longer seeking parole
Born-again Christian, "Son of Hope"
"Son of Sam" Laws Was the Forensic Evidence Essential to Berkowitz's Conviction? Forensic evidence aided in the investigation but was unessential to the conviction of Berkowitz
Led to discovery that crimes were linked
Provided additional evidence to corroborate confession (guns, car, ticket, witnesses/victims)
No trial, plea bargain to avoid death penalty Works Cited Abrahamsen, David Confessions of Son of Sam. New York: Columbia UP, 1985. Print.
"Altered Dimensions." Altered Dimensions. Altered Dimensions, n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013.
"Ballistic." Ballistic. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.
Christianson, Scott. Bodies of Evidence: Forensic Science and Crime. Guilford, CT: Lyons, 2006. Print.
"David Berkowitz | Photos 1 | Murderpedia, the Encyclopedia of Murderers." David Berkowitz | Photos 1 | Murderpedia, the Encyclopedia of Murderers. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.
"David Berkowitz Biography." Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.
"David Berkowitz Or Son Of Sam." HubPages. N.p., 13 Nov. 2008. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.
"David Berkowitz (Son of Sam)." Biography. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013.
Hudson, David L., Jr. "First Amendment Center." First Amendment Center. N.p., Mar. 2012. Web. 24 Apr. 2013.
Montaldo, Charles. "David Berkowitz - The Son Of Sam." About.com Crime / Punishment. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2013.
"Out of the Darkness - Son of Sam Confession (2/2)." YouTube. YouTube, 19 Nov. 2010. Web. 24 Apr. 2013.
Weiss, Murray. "SON OF SAM'S REIGN OF FEAR." New York Post. N.p., 12 July 2007. Web. 30 Apr. 2013.
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