Here's How Serial Killer Son Of Sam Was Finally Caught

After two years of letters and in-person visits with "Son of Sam" David Berkowitz, it became abundantly clear to author and criminologist Dr. Scott Bonn that Berkowitz "relished his evil celebrity status and that he enjoyed terrorizing the city of New York throughout his murderous rampage." So it must have come as a letdown that after becoming the subject of New York's largest ever manhunt, he was apprehended "without incident" on August 10, 1977. He had intended to end it with a crescendo of bloodshed, according to Time.

Had things played out the way Berkowitz reportedly planned, he would have gotten a semi-automatic rifle and "[gone] down in a blaze of glory" at a nightclub. Apparently, in his mind, that blaze was made of hellfire. Years later, Berkowitz would claim in a letter he wrote behind bars, "I truly believed that I was working for Satan and I embraced the mission." But he couldn't complete it. In the end, his hubris and habit of penning sadistic notes became his downfall. Here's how the serial killer got caught.

The Son goes down

For more than a year, "Son of Sam" David Berkowitz toyed with New York City like a cat playing with its prey. During that span he killed six people and injured seven, via History. He used the same murder weapon, a .44-caliber revolver, and consistently targeted young women with long, brown hair. He wrote taunting letters to the police and members of the press, History explains, one of which infamously infamously read, "...I am a monster. I am the Son of Sam. I love to hunt, prowling the streets looking for fair game. The weman are prettyist of all (sic)..." Terrified women began cutting their hair and dying blonde while others refused to leave home at night.

The serial killer also wrote a series of unsettling letters to his neighbors and landlords, who worried that Berkowitz was the Son of Sam. They altered law enforcement, but their warning got lost in an avalanche of tips. Then, Berkowitz further incriminated himself by using his own car as the getaway vehicle after committing the murders, per Time. On the same night as one of his killings, he illegally parked by a fire hydrant close to the scene of the crime. That, combined with an eyewitness account from a woman who saw Berkowitz "[walking] strange, like a cat," enabled law enforcement to name Berkowitz as the perpetrator, and bring him to justice.