News World

How cops ended Son of Sam’s reign of terror

By Brad Hunter, Toronto Sun

Forty years ago this week, cops arrested serial killer David Berkowitz, aka the Son of Sam, who led detectives on the most intense manhunt in the Big Apple’s history. (AP/PHOTO)

Forty years ago this week, cops arrested serial killer David Berkowitz, aka the Son of Sam, who led detectives on the most intense manhunt in the Big Apple’s history. (AP/PHOTO)

The fear gripping its filthy streets had New York City terrified from the Bronx to the Bowery.

Discos, parks, and streets sat empty as people were too frightened to emerge from their cocoons once dusk settled over the city.

The tabloids called the mysterious monster stalking young couples the “.44-Caliber Killer” and more famously - the Son of Sam.

Forty years ago this week, cops arrested the serial killer who led detectives on the most intense manhunt in the Big Apple’s history.

It was a parking ticket that brought Sam - real name David Berkowitz - to justice.

But not before he had murdered six and wounded seven more between July 1976 and August 1977.

“We had a psycho out there and he had to get caught,” retired Det. James Justus told Inside Edition. “We operated under the notion that he is going to screw up somewhere.”

Berkowitz’s targeted couples and young women, frequently gunning them down as they left nightclubs.

“The girls were scared out of their living daylights,” Justus said. “When he was doing his thing people didn’t want to go to clubs because they feared they were the next target.”

Cops knew that the serial killer - who wrote letters to the New York Post and Daily News - liked brunettes. Some women even changed their hair colour.

Donna Lauria, 18, was the first to die on July 29, 1976. Her pal, Jody Valenti, 19, was wounded.

“It was, a terrible time,” Valenti, now 59, told the Post. “The whole city was terrorized, from the Hamptons to Queens, all the boroughs.”

More young people would die and New York would have a nervous breakdown when detectives realized they were dealing with a serial killer.

In the end it was a parking ticket that would send Berkowitz - now 64 - to prison for the rest of his days. He has called his murderous rampage a “terrible tragedy.”

Street cops came upon Berkowitz’s final murder, this time in Brooklyn. The dead woman with a bullet in her head was Stacy Moscowitz, 20.

Within hours they found the ticket that led them to Berkowitz - a Jewish man in an Italian neighbourhood late at night.

A police dispatcher’s dad, Sam Carr, lived behind Berkowitz in Yonkers.

When cops approached the postal worker, he was not surprised.

He told them: “Well, you got me.”