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For fans of crime stories who look for realism, this book is like no other. The descriptions couldn’t be more realistic since, in effect, the book is written by the serial killers themselves. Their words range from the bizarre and weirdly fascinating to the revolting and horrific.
In each case, Philbin provides a background profile to give readers a sense of the context from which these monsters emerged. Though they come from different backgrounds, nationalities, and generations, their words do reveal certain common elements. Not one evinces any sense of compassion or sensitivity in regard to their victims. They appear to be unable to control the impulses that lead them to kill. And in many cases, they derive a perverse sexual satisfaction from their deeds.
Taking true-crime reading to a new level of immediacy, this disturbing book offers a glimpse into the worst side of human nature.
David Berkowitz—who would grow up to become the infamous serial killer "Son of Sam," prowling the streets of New York City, armed with a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver and shooting people at random, mostly young women—was born to two people who were married. But not to each other. They gave the bastard child up for adoption to Nat and Pearl Berkowitz, who raised David in the Coop City complex of apartments in the Bronx.
The exact reasons for his development into a serial killer are not known, but by the age of twenty-two he was, as one cop put it later, "three quarts low." He thought bloodthirsty demons were controlling him, one in particular named "Sam," who was embodied in a neighbor's black Lab dog. (Which, ironically, is one of the most gentle dog breeds there is.) Berkowitz started thinking of himself as a "Son of Sam," the sort of sonof- a-bitch who would follow Sam's orders exactly, and those orders were to send people into the next life.
Following are selections from official court documents or notes and letters he wrote after his conviction.
At one point Berkowitz cruised Southampton, Long Island, looking for victims. But he said the demons in him didn't want him to murder that night so they started a storm to stop him. They had enough force to call these clouds to stop me.... They always selected the people I'd shoot. It wasn't up to me.
I am the demon from the bottomless pit here on earth to create havoc and terror. I am War, I am death and I am destruction.
I am tormented I cry in my cell I miss my daddy I am very uptight I hear demons I see demons I need to talk to someone. I cannot be left alone I will have a breakdown I cannot be understood I am truthful I am doomed
I have made myself a promise not to remain locked up behind bars forever. I have debut [sic] to pay to society and one day I will be free to repay it.
I must repay society and now that I am a Christian I will work to help other people find true freedom and eternal life. In this hospital I found Jesus Christ and it is Him who I am obligated to. I must tell society about the truth and hope.
A LETTER TO DAD
In November 1975 Son of Sam wrote a letter to his adoptive father, Nat, who had moved to Florida and left Berkowitz to fend for himself as, of all things, a security guard. In the letter, Berkowitz more than hinted at the depression he was feeling.
Dear Dad, It's cold and gloomy here in New York, but that's okay because the weather fits my mood—gloomy. Dad, the world is getting dark now. I can feel it more and more. The people, they are developing a hatred for me. You wouldn't believe how much some people hate me. Many of them want to kill me. I don't even know these people, but they still hate me. Most of them are young. I walk down the street and they spit and kick at me. The girls call me ugly and they bother me the most. The guys just laugh. Anyhow, things will soon change for the better.
On Christmas Eve of that year—a month after he wrote this letter—Berkowitz, his paranoia in full blossom, went on his first hunt and started killing people.
SON OF SAM WRITES TO POLICE AND THE PRESS
In the midst of the Son of Sam killings, Berkowitz got offended by Captain Joseph Borrelli of the NYPD and wrote him the following letter.
Dear Captain Joseph Borrelli, I am deeply hurt by your calling me a wemon hater. I am not. But I am a monster. I am the "Son of Sam." I am a little brat. When father Sam gets drunk he gets mean. He beats his family. Sometimes he ties me up to the back of the house. Other times he locks me in the garage. Sam loves to drink blood. "Go out and kill," commands father Sam. Behind our house some rest. Mostly young—raped and slaughtered— their blood drained—just bones now. Papa Sam keeps me locked in the attic too. I can't get out but I look out the attic window and watch the world go by. I feel like an outsider. I am on a different wavelength then everybody else—programmed too kill. However, to stop me you must kill me. Attention all police: Shoot me first—shoot to kill or else keep out of my way or you will die! Papa Sam is old now. He needs some blood to preserve his youth. He has had too many heart attacks. "Ugh, me hoot, it urts, sonny boy." I miss my pretty princess most of all. She's resting in our ladies house. But I'll see her soon. I am the "Monster"—"Beelzebub"—the chubby behemouth. I love to hunt. Prowling the streets looking for fair game—tasty meat. The wemon of Queens are prettyist of all. It must be the water they drink. I live for the hunt—my life. Blood for papa. Mr. Borelli, sir, I don't want to kill anymore. No sir, no more but I must, "honour thy father." I want to make love to the world. I love people. I don't belong on earth. Return me to yahoos. To the people of Queens, I love you. And I want to wish all of you a happy Easter. May God bless you in this life and in the next. And for now I say goobye and goodnight. Police: Let me haunt you with these words: I'll be back! I'll be back! To be interrpreted as—bang, bang, bang, bang, bang—ugh!! Yours in murder Mr. Monster
Below is a letter written to Jimmy Breslin, a reporter for the New York Daily News, who received it on May 30, 1977.
Hello from the gutters of N.Y.C., which are filled with dog manure, vomit, stale wine, urine, and blood. Hello from the sewers of N.Y.C. which swallow up the delicacies when they are washed away by the sweeper trucks. Hello from the cracks in the sidewalks of N.Y.C. and from the ants that dwell in these cracks and feed on the dried blood of the dead that has seeped into these cracks. J.B., I'm just dropping you a line to let you know that I appreciate your interest in those recent and horrendous .44 killings. I also want to tell you that I read your column daily and I find it quite informative. Tell me Jim, what will you have for July twenty-ninth? You can forget about me if you like because I don't care for publicity. However you must not foget Donna Lauria and you cannot let the people forget her either. She was a very, very sweet girl but Sam's a thirsty lad and he won't let me stop killing until he gets his fill of blood. Mr. Breslin, sir, don't think that because you haven't heard from me for a while that I went to sleep. No, rather, I am still here. Like a spirit roaming the night. Thirsty, hungry, seldom stopping to rest; anxious to please Sam. I love my work. Now, the void has been filled. Perhaps we shall meet face to face someday or perhaps I will be blown away by cops with smoking .38's. Whatever, if I shall be fortunate enough to meet you, I will tell you all about Sam if you like and I will introduce you to him. His name is "Sam the Terrible". Not knowing what the future holds I shall say farewell and I will see you at the next job. Or should I say you will see my handiwork at the next job? Remember Ms. Lauria. Thank you. In their blood and from the gutter "Sam's Creation" .44 Here are some names to help you along. Forward them to the inspector for use by N.C.I.C: "The Duke of Death" "The Wicked King Wicker" "The Twenty Two Disciples of Hell" "John 'Wheaties'—Rapist and Suffocator of Young Girls" PS: J.B. Please inform all the detectives working on the slaying to remain. P.S: J.B., please inform all the detectives working the case that I wish them the best of luck. Keep 'em digging, drive on, think positive, get off your butts, knock on coffins. Upon my capture I promise to buy all the guys working on the case a new pair of shoes if I can get up the money.
Above material from David Klausner, Son of Sam: Based on the Authorized Transcription of the Tapes, Official Documents and Diaries of David Berkowitz (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1981); letter from Berkowitz to Borrelli, Serial Killer Database, http://www.serialkillerdatabase.net (accessed April 22, 2010), and used by permission of Joshua Henderson; letter from Berkowitz to Breslin, New York Daily News, June 5, 1977, http://www .nydailynews.com/features/sonofsam/letter.html (accessed May 12, 2010). Photo courtesy of NYS Department of Corrections.
Excerpted from I, MONSTER by TOM PHILBIN Copyright © 2011 by Tom Philbin. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Foreword: A Club with a Cost Robert Beattie 7
Introduction: A Rough Ride 11
1 David Berkowitz 13
2 Ted Bundy 23
3 Jeffrey Dahmer 33
4 Westley Allan Dodd 41
5 Albert Fish 77
6 John Wayne Gacy 85
7 Robert Hansen 89
8 H. H. Holmes 93
9 Jack the Ripper 117
10 Edmund Kemper 119
11 Peter Kürten 145
12 Henry Lee Lucas 147
13 Dennis Nilsen 151
14 Dennis Rader 153
15 David Parker Ray 173
16 Gary Ridgway 195
17 Arthur Shawcross 249
18 Peter Sutcliffe 253
19 Michael Swango 257
20 Aileen Wuornos 261
Posted March 30, 2012
In "I,Monster" Philbin provides a generalized accounting of the lives of a variety of famous serial killers. By in large these snapshots are entirely too superficial and represent little more than might be obtained from newspaper synopses. Little is provided to examine individuals from an in depth perspective. Moreover Philbin has included summaries written in handwriting directly obtained from subjects which are most often illegible at best.The reader would be better served by individual biographies rather than this cursory fluff.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.