Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

David Berkowitz: The Son of Sam

The Blood Monster

After three months, he moved out of the Cassara's house and into an apartment house at 35 Pine Street in Yonkers, never asking for his security deposit back. The Cassaras had taken on a frightening role in David's family life: "When I moved in the Cassaras seemed very nice and quiet. But they tricked me. They lied. I thought they were members of the human race. They weren't! Suddenly the Cassaras began to show up with the demons. They began to howl and cry out. 'Blood and death!' They called out the names of the masters! The Blood Monster, John Wheaties, General Jack Cosmo." As David's fantasies developed, Cassara became General Jack Cosmo, commander in chief of the devil dogs roaming the streets of New York. The demons had a constant need for blood which David helped replenish with his murderous assaults.

David's apartment on Pine Street also had its dogs. Sam Carr's black Labrador, for example. David tried to kill the demon lurking in Harvey with a Molotov cocktail, but it fizzled. Finally, he shot Harvey with a gun.

Sam Carr, in David's elaborate delusion, was the host of a powerful demon named Sam who worked for General Jack Cosmo. When David called himself the Son of Sam, it was the demon living in Sam Carr to which he referred. David warned people that they should take him seriously. "This Sam and his demons have been responsible for a lot of killing." Unfortunately, in David's scheme of things, only God could destroy Sam at Armageddon. At various times in David's mind, Sam was the Devil.

The day before he murdered Donna Lauria, David quit his job as a nighttime security guard and went to work as a taxi driver. He claims that he didn't want to kill Donna and her friend Jody, but the demons forced him to shoot. But once it was done, he felt pleasure, exhaustion from doing a job well. Sam was pleased. Pleased enough to promise Donna to him as a bride. Sam had led David to believe that Donna would some day rise from the dead to join him.

David was classified by the defense psychiatrists as a paranoid schizophrenic. The believed that David's difficulties relating to people drove him further into isolation. The isolation was a fertile ground for wild fantasies. Eventually the fantasies crowded out reality and David lived in a world populated by the demons his mind had created. As his state of mind deteriorated, tension grew and was only released when he successfully attacked someone. For a brief time, the assaults relieved the tensions, but inevitably, the tensions began to increase again and the cycle repeated itself.

When he was arrested, David remained calm and smiling. It appeared as though he was relieved at being caught. Perhaps he thought that finally in jail the demon dogs would stop howling for blood.

However, according to Dr. David Abrahamsen, the prosecution's forensic psychiatrist, "While the defendant shows paranoid traits, they do not interfere with his fitness to stand trial... the defendant is a normal as anyone else. Maybe a little neurotic."

Ultimately, it didn't matter because David Berkowitz pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to 365 years in jail.