30 years ago last week on August 10, 1977, Son Of Sam serial killer David Berkowitz was captured and arrested by New York City police officers after Berkowitz slipped up and was discovered by getting a parking ticket on his car in the Brooklyn neighborhood he was stalking out for his next vicious crime.
David Berkowitz joined the U.S. Army in 1971, and was active until 1974. He managed to avoid service in the Vietnam War, instead serving in both the U.S. and South Korea. Afterward, he toyed with Christianity and briefly and enthusiastically described himself as "born again".
Berkowitz, a resident of Yonkers, NY, was terrorizing all of NYC with his brutal murders in the nearby Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn between July 29, 1976 and July 31, 1977. The fear, paranoia and dread he created in NYC peaked during the brutal heatwave and citywide blackout on July 13 and July 14, 1977.
The shootings gained international press coverage and the media dubbed the shooter "The .44 Caliber Killer" after the type of gun he used to murder his victims. Many victims were attacked and killed in "Lover's Lane" type areas; many were shot while parked in their cars in these areas. Women who had long, dark hair were seemingly in direct danger of being targeted by the serial killer. In response, many women wore short, blond wigs. Some opted to cut their hair shorter and dye their hair blond to possibly decrease their chances of being attacked or killed.
Berkowitz claimed that the Hall & Oates song "Rich Girl" motivated the murders. But the song was not released until February of 1977, after the first four shootings had already taken place.
Berkowitz worked at several jobs, and was employed by the U.S. Postal Service at the time of his arrest.
The 1999 film Summer of Sam, directed by Spike Lee and set in 1977 NYC depicts the tensions that develop in a Bronx neighborhood in which residents start pointing fingers at anyone who doesn't fit in the crowd as suspects.
30 years later, New York City is a much different place.