Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

David Berkowitz: The Son of Sam

Cry for Help

Klausner points out in his book that David's state of mind in November was very bleak when he wrote to his father in Florida: "It's cold and gloomy here in New York, but that's okay because the weather fits my mood — gloomy. Dad, the world is getting dark now. I can feel it more and more. The people, they are developing a hatred for me. You wouldn't believe how much some people hate me. Many of them want to kill me. I don't even know these people, but still they hate me. Most of them are young. I walk down the street and they spit and kick at me. The girls call me ugly and they bother me the most. The guys just laugh. Anyhow, things will soon change for the better."

This letter was a real cry for help. After writing the letter, he locked himself in his tiny apartment for almost a month, leaving only for food. He wrote wacky things on the walls with a marker: "In this hole lives the Wicked King. Kill for my Master. I turn children into Killers."

Around Christmas of 1975, David later claimed to psychiatrists that he was giving into the demons with the hopes that they would stop tormenting him if he did what they asked. On Christmas Eve, he was in a crisis mentally and emotionally. In the early evening he took a large hunting knife and drove around for hours looking for a young female victim. The demons would let him know when he found the right woman.

That night, he had returned to Co-Op City where he and Nat had shared the solitary apartment after Pearl's death. A woman was leaving a grocery store. Suddenly, David's demons ordered him to kill her. "She has to be sacrificed," they told him.

He plunged the hunting knife into her back once and then again. He was shocked at her reaction. "I stabbed her and she didn't do anything. She just turned and looked at me." Then she began to scream and he ran away. Later, police tried unsuccessfully to verify this story.

Then he saw another young woman. He hid the knife and attacked her from behind, stabbing her in the head. Fifteen-year-old Michelle Forman was seriously wounded, but she fought back. Her screaming scared David off and she was able to make it to one of the apartment buildings for help. She had six wounds from the hunting knife.

The attack on Michelle pacified David's demons for the time being. He was relaxed and went out for a burger and fries.


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