The greatest manhunt in New York City's history

The greatest manhunt in New York City's history

David Berkowitz, dubbed the “.44 Caliber Killer” for the gun he used, and later called the “Son of Sam” killer, was arrested at his Yonkers home on August 10, 1977. Berkowitz terrorized New York City over 13 months beginning in July 1976, killing six people and wounding seven others.

Thirteen shootings occurred in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, with many of the victims targeted as they sat in their cars late at night. Berkowitz left cryptic letters at the crime scenes and wrote to Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin. The killings spread fear among many of the city's residents, especially young women with dark hair, who appeared to be the main target.

A $35 ticket issued to a car parked illegally along the Brooklyn waterfront on July 31, 1977, the night of the last shooting, ultimately led to the arrest of David Berkowitz as the suspected “Son of Sam” killer. Berkowitz later claimed his neighbor's dog ordered him to carry out the murders.

David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam" suspect,  is shown in an undated photo. (AP Photo)


The following excerpts are from an AP story reported on August 11, 1977:

The greatest manhunt in New York City's history was at an end Thursday, with the accused .44 caliber slayer of six consigned to a mental ward. Outside the court a sidewalk crowd cried out for his blood, chanting, "Kill! Kill."
Identified as Son of Sam, he was seized as he reportedly planned a final furious climax to his year-long reign of dark terror, a massacre in which he said officials "would be all summer counting the bodies."

A crowd gathers outside Kings County hospital in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Thursday, Aug. 11, 1977 as a police van arrives. The van was carrying accused “.44 Caliber Killer”,  David Berkowitz, to a mental ward at the hospital for observation. (AP Photo)

Paunchy, bland-looking David Berkowitz, 24, an army veteran who worked as a $13,000-a-year letter sorter for the post office, was quoted as saying he planned to machine gun an unselected but presumably crowded discotheque in the Hamptons in Suffolk County - the south shore Long Island summer haunt of the wealthy and socially prominent.
Police said Berkowitz, a former New York City auxiliary policeman sensed capture was near and saw the Hamptons bloodbath as a means to "go out in a blaze of glory."
Berkowitz submitted to arrest with a smile Wednesday night outside his apartment house in suburban Yonkers. Police said an unmailed letter to Suffolk County authorities and a map of Long Island resort areas were found in his car, along with the infamous Charter Arms .44 caliber revolver used in 13 shootings during the past year.

Mrs. Cecilia Davis walks her dog, “Snowball” in front of her apartment, Friday, Aug. 12, 1977 about a block from the spot where “Son of Sam” shot Stacy Moskowitz to death and blinded her date. The Austrian-born Mrs. Davis, gave police the key tip which led to the arrest of David Berkowitz in Yonkers. In a story in the New York Daily News, she said she had come face to face with the gunman the night Miss Moskowitz was shot. (AP Photo/Ira Schwartz)

A witness in Brooklyn had seen a police officer ticket a nearby car for illegal parking beside a fire hydrant:
At a news conference, Police Commissioner Michael Codd said two persons who volunteered information on Son of Sam enabled police to arrest Berkowitz and close the baffling case. The city had spent an estimated $1 million including overtime for a task force of 300 cops especially assigned to track down the elusive gunman, who stalked his victims down the dark corridors of the night.
One volunteer was a Yonkers tipster who gave police Berkowitz' name. The other was Cecilia Davis, a Brooklyn woman who saw a $35 parking ticket hanging on Berkowitz's car near the scene of blonde, brown-eyed Stacy Moskowitz's slaying last July 31. She was the .44 caliber killer's last victim, slain two days after the anniversary of his initial hit.

David Berkowitz arrives at Brooklyn Courthouse in New York, Aug. 11, 1977. (AP Photo)

People stand outside of the Elephas nightclub in the early morning hours of June 26, 1977, in the Bayside section of the Queens borough of New York, where a young couple parked near the club were shot by the “.44 Caliber Killer” also known as the "Son of Sam".  (AP Photo)

Police rope off the area around a car as they search for evidence in the early morning hours of July 31, 1977, after a gunman shot a young couple parked in a secluded lovers' lane in the Gravesend section of the Brooklyn borough of New York. Police believe it was another "Son of Sam" shooting. (AP Photo)

The saga of the “Son of Sam” killer ended, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 1977 when police arrested a man identified as David Berkowitz, 24, who they believe is the “.44 Caliber Killer” who took six lives in New York City in more than a year. (AP Photo)

Residents of Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn and police officers stand near the scene of the shooting by “.44 Caliber Killer” at Shore Parkway and Bay 16 in New York, July 31, 1977. (AP Photo)

Exterior of Jasmine’s discoteque at 7112 3rd Ave., in Brooklyn, July 31, 1977. (AP Photo/Ira Schwartz)

New York City police are seen at work on the "Son of Sam" serial killer case at Police Headquarters in New York, July 19, 1977.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

John Keenan, chief of detectives, speaks at a press conference at New York City Police headquarters after two new sketches of the “.44 Caliber Killer” were unveiled at right, Aug. 9, 1977. Police said the killer, also know as "Son of Sam", who has slain six persons and wounded seven during the past year, is 25 to 32 years old, white, 5 feet 8 to 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 165 to 175 pounds. (AP Photo/Ray Howard)

Magazine clips and a “last letter” found in Berkowitz’s car are displayed in Brooklyn, Thursday, Aug. 11, 1977. (AP Photo)

Unidentified officers of the 84th Precinct in Brooklyn read news of the capture of the “.44 Caliber Killer”, David Berkowitz, Aug. 11, 1977. (AP Photo/Dan Goodrich)

New York Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin sits at police headquarters in New York after the arrest of David Berkowitz, the "Son of Sam" serial killer suspect, on Aug. 11, 1977. Berkowitz sent several cryptic messages to Breslin, who published them in the newspaper. (AP Photo)

People read about the "Son of Sam" arrest, Thursday, Aug. 11, 1977. (AP Photo/Ira Schwarz)

New York Mayor Abraham Beame, left, and police commissioner Michael Codd, right, shake hands at Police Headquarters, Thursday, Aug. 11, 1977 with officers Jeffrey Logan, second from left, and Michael Cataneo. A parking ticket issued by the two officers to a car at the site of the “.44 Caliber Killer's” last shooting led police on Wednesday night to the home of a suspect police believed to be the “Son of Sam” gunman. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff)

Alleged ".44 Caliber Killer" David Berkowitz, who also called himself "Son of Sam", is seen in police custody in 1977. (AP Photo)

Police officer Edward Zigo holds up the .44-caliber revolver in Brooklyn, Thursday, Aug. 11, 1977. (AP Photo)

These handwritten messages were found on the wall in the apartment of .44-caliber “Son of Sam” shooting suspect David Berkowitz in Yonkers, New York, Thursday, Aug. 12, 1977. The suspect is undergoing psychiatric questioning on Friday to determine if he is fit to stand trial. (AP Photo)

David Berkowitz, the accused "Son of Sam" killer, sleeps in his cell at Kings County Hospital prison ward, 1977. (AP Photo)

Text by Kathleen Elliott

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