The murder of Sandra “Sandy” Berfield by Steven Caruso is featured in the latest episode of The Killer Beside Me on Investigation Discovery.
Berfield worked as a waitress at Bickford’s restaurant in Medford, Massachusetts, where Caruso was a long-time customer. Sometime in 1996, he requested to be seated in the 32-year-old’s section and from there, they would engage in light conversation, but that ended in August 1998 when she declined his invitation to a movie date.
Caruso continued to sit in her section, but he would just stare and smirk at her without uttering a word for hours. Berfield told her manager that she was uncomfortable with Caruso sitting in her section, so the manager asked him to move to another section.
A month later, her vehicle was vandalized four times. Someone had slashed her tires and poured battery acid in her gas tank, and she believed that someone was Caruso.
Berfield then filed a restraining order against Caruso as she claimed he was stalking her at work and at her home. She had become increasingly concerned about her safety that she began sleeping with a knife, and she had a surveillance camera installed in her apartment.
However, at that time, restraining orders were only available for people who had a familial relationship with their alleged stalker or if they were dating them.
Although Caruso denied the allegations, he was convicted of malicious destruction of property in May 1999. He was sentenced to six months in jail, and he was ordered to pay restitution.
Eight months later, on January 20, 2000, there was a package addressed to Berfield, and it was left on her porch. When she opened it, it exploded — killing her instantly. Police later discovered that there was a pipe bomb inside the package.
When investigators questioned Caruso, he gave inconsistent stories regarding his whereabouts on the morning of Berfield’s death. That’s when they obtained a warrant to search his home, where they found tons of documents containing the victim’s social security, home address, date of birth, and place of employment.
They also found gunpowder, wire, and ammunition that were similar to the ones found at the crime scene.
Police said Caruso’s sister told them that she found a book in his room called High–Low Boom Explosives, which was found in a trash can.
Caruso was arrested and placed in a holding cell with an inmate named Michael A. Dubis, who claimed he made statements about Berfield’s death.
According to Dubois, Caruso told him that he learned how to make bombs through a friend. He said the bomb would only explode if it’s opened because of a separation device.
Caruso went on to talk about the victim, and how she caught him on camera vandalizing her vehicle. He stated that he became angry with her when she refused to go on a date with him.
In 2003, Caruso was found guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison. Thirteen years later, in 2016, he tried to appeal his conviction and requested a new trial, but he was denied.
The Killer Beside Me — Deadly Delivery, airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.