David Berkowitz was born on June 1, 1953 in New York City. He was the product of a sexual affair between Betty Falcoand and Joseph Kleinman and put up for adoption immediately after his birth. His adopted parents were Nathan and Pearl Berkowitz, who lived in the Bronx.
Even at an early age, David lived a solitary lifestyle, staying away from other kids. He grew unusually large at an early age and this caused him some discomfort around others that were his own age. He soon found his calling as the neighborhood bully, harassing other kids and claiming their money. His behavior was hyperactive and he was prone to entirely unpredictable violence.
David was always greatly attached to his mother and, when she died in 1967 from breast cancer, he was emotionally devastated. He moved into a new apartment with his father, but he never recovered. His grades in school plummeted and he became disenchanted with any god that existed. He interpreted his mother's unfortunate death as a conspiracy by higher powers to hurt him.
His father eventually remarried in 1971, but David never got along with his stepmother. They moved to Florida after they retired, but David chose to stay behind in NYC. He soon joined the army and developed excellent marksman skills.
He was discharged in 1974 and returned to NYC to become a pyromaniac. He kept a diary of the fires that he started and, by the time he was arrested, he had started 1488 fires. At the same time, David was depressed and began hearing voices in his head. He managed to get a job as a security guard for IBI Security.
At the time, David was living in a home owned by Jack and Nann Cassera. They owned a german shepherd that often howled with the other dogs. David thought that this dog and others he heard howling were demons ordering him to kill.
On December 24, 1975, David stabbed a woman in the back after being told to do so by the voices. He took flight after she began screaming, but soon came across a fifteen year old girl named Michelle Foreman. David stabbed her six times before retiring for the night.
David moved out of the Cassera's home and found another place to live on Pine Street. There, he met a person named Samuel Carr. Carr had a pet labrador retriever named Harvey and David began thinking that Sam served a master demon named General Jack Cosmo. David shot the dog, but Sam was at home and took the dog to the vet, who was able to save it. Inspired by Sam, David began calling himself the "Son of Sam". He also changed his weapon of choice from a knife to a .44 Charter Arms Bulldog pistol.
On July 29, 1976, two women named Jody Valenti and Donna Lauria were sitting in their car when David ran up and stuck his head in the window. He then shot Jody in the thigh and Donna in the neck. Jody was able to survive her wound, but Donna's serious neck wound caused her to die. The story was widely publicized and struck fear into the hearts of people in New York.
On October 23, 1976, David shot a man named Carl Denaro in the neck while he sat in his car. Carl survived, but David struck again on November 26, 1976. Two girls named Donna DeMasi and Joanne Lomino were sitting in their car when David ran up and shot them. They survived, although Joanne was paralyzed from the waist down for life.
On January 29, 1977, David shot and killed a woman named Christine Freund while she sat in her car with her boyfriend. On March 8, 1977, he shot a woman named Virginia Voskerichian, who also died from the wound. By now, news of this mysterious killer was all over New York, but David wanted to take it to a higher level for more recognition.
David departed from his normal rhythm and waited only a month before killing Alexander Esau and Valentina Suriani in their car with shots to the head. He left a letter at the crime scene signed "Son of Sam". The note ignited a media campaign and gave investigators a lot more to work with.
On June 25,1977, David shot Sal Lupo in the arm and his girlfriend Judy Placido in the neck, shoulder, and temple. The two miraculously survived, although in poor condition. On July 30, 1977, David shot Stacy Moskowitz and Robert Violante. Stacy died, but Robert survived with permanent vision loss.
On this latest murder, David had finally slipped up. A witness saw the crime and watched David leave the scene with a parking ticket on his car. The police looked up the ticket and came up with David's name. He was arrested on August 10, 1977 outside his apartment and immediately confessed to all of the crimes.
David tried to plead insanity, telling prosecutors of the voices in his head and the conspiracy of the demons. However, the doctors that examined him during the trial and the jury were unconvinced. He was sentenced to 365 years in prison at Attica, where he continues to serve time. On July 10, 1979, he was attacked by unknown assailants in the prison, leaving him with a slashed throat. He barely survived with fifty-six stitches and became much less social afterward.
During his time in prison, David became something of a religious fanatic. He has started the website http://www.forgivenforlife.com, where he keeps a journal. In 2002, he was eligible for parole, but refused to attend the hearing, saying "I do not deserve parole".
David Berkowitz's effects on the summer of 1977 were portrayed in in the film "Summer of Sam".