Clues from Killers: Serial Murder and Crime Scene Messages

By Dirk C. Gibson | Go to book overview

1 The Son of Sam

He didn’t kill that many people, and he engaged in no acts of pre- or postdeath torture or mutilation. Nevertheless, the Son of Sam is one of the best-remembered and most infamous of serial killers. During his crime spree, he terrorized New York City as few others have done.

He wrote one famous note, which he left at a crime scene. He wrote a famous letter to New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin. His criminal persona, the Son of Sam, is recognized widely as standing for David Berkowitz, a former postal worker and the arsonist behind an estimated 1,500 fires in New York. Active between 1976 and 1977, his shootings were magnified, explored, and exaggerated according to critics of the intense media coverage afforded these crimes. Despite a massive investigation, Berkowitz was caught almost by accident when a parking ticket he received at what would be his last shooting led to his identification.

The Son of Sam was not merely one of the best-known serial killers, he was also a committed communicator. He left notes at crime scenes and mailed letters to journalists and others. He even drew pictures and wrote bizarre messages on the walls of his apartment. He also kept a diary and wrote out crime plans.

One thing is evident. This communication meant a great deal to Berkowitz. His frequent use of so many communication methods proves this. The theme of many of his messages was fantasy, a common serial killer concern. A few letters and notes were a bit more rational.

-7-

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Clues from Killers: Serial Murder and Crime Scene Messages
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Clues from Killers iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Clues from Killers xi
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The Son of Sam 7
  • 2: The Dc Sniper 29
  • 3: The Mad Butcher 45
  • 4: The Unabomber 65
  • 5: The Zodiac 89
  • 6: The Btk Strangler 115
  • 7: John Robinson Sr. 131
  • 8: Jack the Ripper 147
  • 9: William Heirens 173
  • 10: The Black Dahlia Avenger 191
  • Conclusion 209
  • Notes 215
  • Selected Bibliography 237
  • Index 241
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