Walking along the street in a marvelous city of New York could be a nightmare in 1970s. When the serial killer, David Berkowitz, who was known as Son of Sam, he was thirsty of his victims for human sacrifices. The police looked for the murderer of .44-caliber pistol. He was a serial killer who killed six people and wounded seven in New York city from 1976 to 1977 (“David Berkowitz Biography.”). A serial killer is a human being like us, but what makes him become a monster? Why did he decide to commit a crime? However, the most important question that needs to be answered first is “What motivated David Berkowitz to commit the murders?” Jeffrey Cohen’s, Thesis II, The Monster Always Escapes of “Seven Monster Theory” and Thesis V, The Monster Policies the Borders of the Possible, help to defines him as a monster and analyze what causes a serial killer to kill. Observing and examining David Berkowitz’s life could also explain about what motivated him to kill people.

Looking in his mental health situation helps to visualize that the monster is not a normal people. David Berkowitz had a mental problem. The article name “Dangerous Minds: The Mental Illnesses Of Infamous Criminal,” introduces Schizophrenia which is a mental illness that the Son of Sam had. The article says that “He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia” (Franklin). Everybody assesses others in communication, but the people with paranoid schizophrenia determine others with the context of delusion. They don’t have the ability to identify the reality outside the imagine that paranoid schizophrenia has created. The article named “Paranoid Type Schizophrenia,” describes “Paranoid schizophrenics, specifically, often struggle in social situations, remaining reserved as they assess other people’s motivations and determine whether or not they are a threat and in on the conspiracy against them that they believe that others are planning (“Paranoid…”). The same article goes on to explain that people with this disorder tends to be scared of stranger or people around them because they think that other people will hurt them. Also, most of the time the patients seek to find relief from the high level of anxiety by using drugs or alcohol. (“Paranoid…”) A serial killer had a paranoid schizophrenia, and it made his life harder than usual. He needed to be taken care of his mental illness in order to avoid the risk of bad actions. However, his childhood did not seem to be easy for him.

Looking back to his childhood would help to understand his background. It could be an important piece of information that answers his motivation of committing murders. According to the article “Prison Ain’t Hell: An Interview with the Son of Sam–David Berkowitz, and Why State-Funded Faith-Based Prison Rehabilitation Programs Do Not Violate the Establishment Clause,” reveals about his childhood life. It states that “At age five, Berkowitz ‘s parents told him about the adoption. Acting on the advice of psychologists, they told him that his mother had died during childbirth, and that his father could not care for him alone, causing to give him up for adoption” (Binger). The article adds that in fact his mother was alive, and she remarried with a businessman. Her new husband convinced her to give her baby up for adoption. Berkowitz found out that his mother lied to him when he was about 20 years old.  However, he wished that he could have known the truth earlier because he felt sorry for his whole young life about the death of his biological mother. Luckily, he mentioned that his adoptive parents gave him so much love. Sadly, at the age of thirteen, his adoptive mother died from breast cancer, and the grief was so strong for him. After the loss of his mother, his father had to work 6 days a week; therefore, he was left a latchkey child. (Binger)

David Berkowitz when he was a child.

As a human being, imaging his pain when he knew that his family would not be no longer his own family. Also, his mother lied to him, for she would want a better life with a new marriage. Unfortunately, his adoptive mother died, and he still had “suicidal impulses”. He did not have a smooth life when he was young. His father worked a lot, so he was left alone in an empty home. All these factors could contribute him to be under pressure and depressed in the future. The documentary named “David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) – Serial Killer Documentary,” shows that “[His childhood] gave few hints of an impending internal storm. He was born out of wedlock and adopted by a Jewish couple in the Bronx. He had a lot of emotional problems growing up; therefore, he had a lot of bouts of very severe depression and behavioral problems. He said that he became a murder as a result of demonic oppression” (“David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) …”). In case of David Berkowitz, the social factors would be the main part that contribute him to violent behavior. However, this is only a social factor of his childhood, but if observing the social factor of his life after the age of his 20 years old, it would reveal the connection between the cause and effect of Berkowitz’s beliefs.  

After 3 years of being in an army, David Berkowitz came back home to where he grew up. According to the documentary named “David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) – Serial Killer Documentary,” illustrates the interview of the serial killer. Berkowitz first mentions that “Even though he tried to escape his problems by joining in the army, he came back to Bronx three years later with a lost soul.” (“David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) …”)  He states that he was bored and lonely. Also, he didn’t have any real friends and any real hope of future or goal in his mind. It was aimless for him, so he felt that the time just going from day to day. However, he was looking for some friends, some companionship, and fun. Finally, he met a guy who convinced him to Satanic cult, so he got caught up in something over his head. (“David Berkowitz (Son of Sam)…”) He was a soldier, so he learned to follow the rules in the same way he followed the teaching of the cult. It was like a process that he had to follow until he became a part of a Satanic cult.

According to Seven Monster Theories, Thesis II, states that “Monsters must be examined within the intricate matrix of relations (social, cultural, and literary-historical) that generate them (Cohen). Monsters connects to a person who assigns them. The thesis two helps to understand that since the childhood of David Berkowitz reveals the signs of violence; for instance, the losses in his life had built the risky foundations that could lead to bad behaviors. As he had little parental supervision, he could be lacking love, company, and happiness from a family. Then, he was involved in a satanic cult that introduced him to the darkness mind. In order to examine him as a monster, social, culture and beliefs had influenced his mind to commit murders. His life could be a case study example that illustrates the pattern of a serial killer’s life. It is expected to be someone in a society that whose family is separated or including a domestic violence. Also, a serial killer usually has a mental illness. This pattern shows that a monster always come back in our society. It never escapes that is why we still have seen a news of committing a crime.

Berkowitz explains in the documentary that “[The satanic cult] claimed his soul, and there was a force of evil that was so powerful. It is beyond any human comprehension or understanding that evil sucked in a lot of lives” (“David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) …”). He was sucked in by the cult during gatherings at under Mayer Park Yonkers. He claimed that he was formally initiated into the cult, and he began to take vows and be partaker of the group with chanting, rituals, and various incantations. Believing in Satanism was a main factor that changed him to a monster.

He was sucked in by the cult during gatherings at under Mayer Park Yonkers.

The article named “Who is Satan? The Accuser and Scapegoat,” describes Satanism as “Satanism is about reality. In reality, all living beings die. There are no exceptions. Satanism, in embracing life and indulgence, is in effect striving against death. However, it is inevitable that death will eventually win. Satan, representing reality and the Human condition, symbolizes the victory of death(Crabtree). The satanic cult links to Son of Sam because he did according to what he believed.

His murder’s name with satanic symbol

In the fifth thesis of Seven Monster Theories, The Monster Policies the Borders of the Possible, points out that “To step outside this official geography is to risk attack by some monstrous border patrol or (worse)to become monstrous oneself” (Cohen). The monster explores unknown; likewise, Berkowitz explored the satanic cult. He crossed the boundaries that could make him attacked by the monster. Because of his curiosity, he stepped outside in risk surroundings; therefore, crossing the boundaries made himself become a monster. For this reason, the satanic cult could train him what to believe.

Berkowitz mentions in the documentary that there were animal sacrifices and other darkened on with thing happening. Police confirmed they found evidence of animal sacrifices. He adds that animal sacrifices were not enough for the cult, so they started to think maybe taking human lives or human sacrifices. It points out that he was a soldier of Satan recruited he says to spread evil. (“David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) …”) Berkowitz says that “The darkest part of his life, he was no longer in his right mind when he was ugly, vicious, wicked, darkness, confusion, and chaos” (“David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) …”). He took control by the cult, and he just kept the devil happy as Satan ruled his soul. The cult took over his mind and body, and the goal of the cult was to kill one hundred people. (David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) …”) It was very scary that the goal he had was to kill one hundred people; however, during the summer of 1976- 1977 Berkowitz would not feel guilty of what he was doing at that time. As he killed six people and hurt seven people in a year, he was a monster at that time. 

    The victims of Son of Sam

Obviously, he was a product of his own circumstances. According to the examining David Berkowitz’s motivation, whose committed murders, reveals the causal relationships, specifically casual chain. He first was not having healthy mental as he had a paranoid schizophrenia; moreover, he lost his adoptive mother. He lacked love and companionship, so he was not happy of his life. From his childhood could predict his future as a violent person. He tried to escape his problems by joining the army. After he came back, he was lost and found himself as a part of a satanic cult. Then, he began his murder career, and he killed six people to make a devil satisfied. As a result, each situation of his life is connected to each other. It was the situation that happened which then could cause the other situation to happen. In the same way that Berkowitz grew up, and he was surrounded by the events that would be important factors which would form him to slowly become a serial killer or a monster.



Annotated Bibliography

Binger, Rebekah. “Prison Ain’t Hell: An Interview with the Son of Sam–David Berkowitz, and Why State-Funded Faith-Based Prison Rehabilitation Programs Do Not Violate the Establishment Clause.” Pace Law Review, vol. 31, no. 1, Jan. 2011, pp. 488–530. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=60797306&site=ehost-live.

The article talks about life of a serial killer, David Berkowitz. It outlines his life since early life until he was arrested. I use this article to describe his childhood, and it helps to observe how his personality was when he was young. This is a credible source because it is from a Chaffey library database.

Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture: Seven Theses.” From Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. 3-25

This source defines what are 7 monster theories. It helps me to identify and analyze a monster. It is a reliable source as it is an academic journal.

Crabtree, Vexen. “Who Is Satan? The Accuser and Scapegoat.” Who Is Satan? The Accuser and Scapegoat, 1 Jan. 2010, http://www.dpjs.co.uk/satan.html.

The article defines the term of a “Satanic Cult”. It talks about who is Satan, and the beliefs behind the cult. I use this article to define what is a satanic cult, and what they believe. It is a reliable source because it is supported by The Human Truth Foundation.

“David Berkowitz Biography.” The Biography.com Website, A&E Television Networks, 2 Apr. 2014, www.biography.com/people/david-berkowitz-9209372.

The article provides bibliography of David Berkowitz. I use this article to introduces his background. He was a serial killer who killed 6 people from 1976 to 1977. It is a credible source because it was published by A&E Television Networks.

“David Berkowitz (Son of Sam) – Serial Killer Documentary.” YouTube, YouTube, 8 Sept. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPF3fuICqhM.

The documentary is the interview of David Berkowitz. It talks about a lot of details in his life. This documentary gave me the chance to understand and observe from his words. I use the documentary to define him as a monster. I also use it to make my point clear by talking about what he believed, felt, and thought. It is a reliable source as it was published by Serial Killers Documentaries.

Franklin, Barry, and Seth Restaino. “Dangerous Minds: Mental Illnesses of Infamous Criminals.” Forensics Colleges, Sechel Educational Publishing, 2018, http://www.forensicscolleges.com/blog/resources/dangerous-minds-criminal-mental-illness.

“Paranoid Type Schizophrenia.” Dual Diagnosis, Foundations Recovery Network (FRN) , 2018, www.dualdiagnosis.org/schizoaffective-disorder-addiction-treatment/paranoid-type-schizophrenia/.

The article defines what is paranoid schizophrenia. I use this information to better describe how it relates to the serial killer, and how it affects the way he thinks. This is a reliable source because it was published by Foundations Recovery Network. It is an organization that helps people who experience a mental illness.