Son of Sam: Terror in the Night looks back at the murders of young couples committed in the New York area in the late 1970s.
Between the summers of 1976 an 1977 six people were shot dead by an assailant using a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver. A further seven were injured and by the time the attacker was caught the case had spawned the biggest manhunt in the history of New York City and garnered worldwide attention.
The shootings started July 29, 1976, when 18-year-old Donna Lauria and her friend 19-year-old Jody Valenti were sitting in Valenti’s car. But it would be almost a year before the serial killer acquired his infamous Son of Sam name.
In April 1977 Alexander Esau and Valentina Suriani were sitting in the latter’s car near her home in the Bronx when they were both shot. Suriani died in the car whilst Esau passed away in hospital a few hours later.
At the scene the police found a letter that was addressed to NYPD Captain Joseph Borrelli. The handwritten letter promises the police that the killer would be back and also identified himself the “Son of Sam.”
In May another letter was sent, this time to Daily News writer Jimmy Breslin. It promised more killings and advised that Son of Sam was a keen reader of the reports in the newspaper.
Several more shootings occurred until finally after an attack in July led to more witnesses than all the previous attacks. One in particular was a woman who saw a young man who’d just left a car that had been ticketed by a traffic cop. She noticed he was carrying something in his hand and soon after she heard gun shots.
Police checked all the cars that had been given tickets in the area that night and one of them was the yellow Ford Galaxie belonging to David Berkowitz. At first they hoped he might be a good witness but when they contacted Yonkers police to arrange an interview they were shocked to hear that the local police had some suspicions about him.
When his car was searched the police found ammunition, maps of the crime scenes and a .44-caliber Bulldog revolver.
The documentary examines the killings and the search to bring the murdered to justice. The story is told through interviews with the families of those killed, the detectives involved in the case and by some of the victims.
Berkowitz is currently serving six consecutive life sentences.
Son of Sam: Terror in the Night airs at 6:57 PM on Discovery.