Get well soon
Jack Cassara, a resident of New Rochelle, received a strange ‘get well' note in his mailbox. The well wisher described how he hoped he was getting better after a fall and also included a picture a German Shepherd dog. It was signed from a Mr Carr and his wife in the district of Yonkers.
The odd thing was that Cassara hadn’t injured himself nor could he recall who the writer was. He called the Carrs who immediately revealed that they too had been receiving strange letters. They also had a German Shepherd that had been found shot. The couples got together. Cassara’s teenage son then remembered that they once had a lodger who had left and never came back for his deposit. He had also not taken to the family dog. The Carrs' daughter who worked for the Yonkers police department suggested she bring someone in to investigate.
It later transpired that a man called Craig Glassman, who was a deputy sheriff and neighbour of Berkowitz, had received an anonymous letter ranting on about him and the Cassaras/Carr families as being part of a devil worshipping ‘demon’ coven. Although this was odd behaviour it did not prove that Berkowitz was a killer and his name simply went down on a computer file.
His victims this time were young lovers Stacy Moskowitz and Bobby Violante. They had just been to see a movie and then drove to a quiet spot near Gravesend Bay in Brooklyn. Eventually they got out and went for a walk towards some swings, but when Stacy saw a suspicious character hanging around she insisted they head back towards their car. Despite Stacy’s desire to leave there and then, Bobby convinced her to stay for a while longer. It was to be a dreadful mistake.
Moments later gunshots fired out and the car’s windows were shattered. Stacy was shot and fell away from Bobby who had been shot twice in the face. Bobby managed to crawl out of the car and cry for help. Stacey’s injuries were severe and she died in hospital while Bobby was left blinded in one eye and with only 20% vision in his other.
Following this incident two officers, Chamberlain and Intervallo from the Yonkers district decided to investigate the letters that were originally sent to the Carrs and Cassaras families. They also looked into the fact that two dogs, one belonging to the Carrs, had been shot. Checking on Berkowitz through the police computer files they realised that he was similar to the description given by witnesses.
Berkowitz lived at 35 Pine Street and the officers discovered that he was a quiet tenant who worked for a security firm in Queens. He had then quit in July 1976 and gone to work for a cab company. Chamberlain and Intervallo then spent days ringing hundreds of cab companies in the Bronx and surrounding areas in order to find his employer. Nothing turned up, but the two officers still took their findings and the letters to New York City Detective Richard Salvesen.
A series of other fortunate developments occurred over the next few days. First a witness who lived near the area where the shooting of Stacy Moskowitz and Bobby Violante took place came forward with a description of a man she had seen at the time. Her sketch of the suspect bore an uncanny resemblance to Berkowitz. Then shortly afterwards news came through that a suspected arson had taken place at the building block where Berkowitz lived.
When the police arrived at the scene they questioned Craig Glassman, a male nurse. Glassman was one of the names mentioned in Berkowitz rambling letters describing him as being part of a demonic coven. But what astounded the officers was the fact that the arsonist had tried to set off bullets placed by Glassman’s door with the fire. Glassman was able to show the police several 22-calibre bullets plus several letters he had received from Berkowitz. The police noticed that they were written in the same hand as those sent to the Carrs/Cassaras families.
Mr Carr had been so frustrated with the police lack of action regarding his disclosure of Berkowitz’s letters and the shooting of his dog that he went down to the police headquarters where the Omega task force were based. When it was pointed out to him that he was just one of hundreds of people who were convinced that they knew the identity of the Son of Sam killer, Carr let it go.
More vital evidence cropped up. Several traffic tickets that had been written in the same area as the shooting of Moskowitz and Violante had turned up nothing, except one, which belonged to Berkowitz. It was then that the police started to take seriously the statements from the Carr family whose dog, they assumed, had been shot by Berkowitz. With all the accumulated evidence, including the photo sketch by a witness, the arson attack and 22-calibre bullets found in Berkowitz’s apartment block plus the letters sent to the families and Glassman, it is baffling to think why it took some time for these coincidences to be seriously investigated.
On 10 August 1977, 35 Pine St was put under surveillance. The first man to come out of the apartment block and head towards Berkowitz’s car turned out to be a false start when the man was revealed to be Craig Glassman himself.
Several hours later another man appeared carrying a paper bag. It was Berkowitz. He got inside the suspect’s car but didn’t see the police running up behind him. Immediately he was told to ‘freeze’ and slowly get out. When asked who he was Berkowitz grimaced inanely and said “I’m Sam. David Berkowitz."
Sergeant Coffey was the first to interview Berkowitz who calmly told him about the shootings in great detail. There was no mistaking that he was the killer. Coffey was amazed and baffled by Berkowitz’s calm demeanour. The man was clearly emotionally detached from the horror of his murderous actions.
Berkowitz’s pre-murder obsession with howling dogs - canine conduits for the demons’ voices - indicates that he had developed acute psychosis during that time. Before he had actually murdered anyone he had indeed shot the Carrs' German Shepherd after initially trying to poison it.
Sam, he told detectives, was a father-like devil - a blood monster - who lived in the bodies of people he knew and who needed his blood lust sating by the killing of innocent people. Certainly this confession appears to be the authentic workings of a schizoid and deluded mind that had tipped over the line, blurring reality with extreme fantasy.