Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

David Berkowitz: The Son of Sam

David Berkowitz

Newspaper headlines
Newspaper headlines

The day of Berkowitz's arrest, Sergeant Joseph Coffey was called in to interview him. Calmly and candidly, David told him about each of the shootings. When the interview was over there was no doubt that Berkowitz was the Son of Sam. The details that he supplied about each assault were bits of information that only the killer would know.

At the end of the session, Berkowitz politely wished him "good night." Coffey was amazed by Berkowitz. "When I first walked into that room I was full of rage. But after talking to him... I feel sorry for him. That man is a fucking vegetable!"

Who was David Berkowitz anyway and how did he become the Son of Sam?

While David did not start his life under the most auspicious circumstances, he grew up in a middle-class family with doting adoptive parents who showered him with gifts and attention. His real mother, Betty Broder, grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. Her family was poor and she had to struggle to survive during the Depression. Her Jewish family opposed her marriage to Tony Falco, who was Italian and a gentile.

The two of them scraped some money together to start a fish market in 1939. Then, Betty had a daughter Roslyn. After that, things did not go well with the Falcos' marriage and Tony left her for another woman. The fish market went bust and Betty had to raise Roslyn by herself.

The loneliness of being a single parent was relieved when she began an affair with a married man named Joseph Kleinman. But things went awry when she became pregnant. Kleinman refused to pay any child support and vowed to leave her unless she gave up the baby. Even before David was born on June 1, 1953, she had arranged for his adoption.

Her sadness at giving up her child was mitigated somewhat by the knowledge that a good Jewish couple was ready to adopt her son. With her newborn gone, Betty resumed her affair with Kleinman until he died of cancer in 1965.

 

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