The Sons of Sam: What happened in the Arlis Perry case and Netflix doc ending explained
Ok, so those last few minutes were lot to take in
If you’ve just finished The Sons of Sam documentary on Netflix, you’ve probably not yet quite come to terms with how it ended. Did anyone else just really not see that coming? The final episode revisits the Arlis Perry case, a disturbing murder which is mentioned earlier on in the series, and gives a shocking conclusion to it.
So now you’re probably wanting to know the ins and outs of what happened in the case, who Stephen Blake Crawford was and just how Maury Terry seemed to know it all, all along.
Here’s everything we know.
CW: This article contains details of the murder case.
What happened to Arlis Perry?
The death of 19-year-old newlywed, Arlis Perry, is detailed in the Netflix series, and is particularly gruesome. At the time of her death, Arlis Perry was living at Stanford University campus with her husband, and on the night of October 12th 1974 had gone to the church there to pray following an argument.
The body of Perry was discovered by the church security guard, Stephen Blake Crawford. He claimed to have found her at 5:45am, face-up with her hands across her chest. She had been brutally killed, with reports saying she was found with an ice-pick in her head and she had been sexually assaulted with a candlestick.
Journalist and investigator Maury Terry said he had suspicions that they person who killed Arlis Perry was Crawford, but nobody believed him – mainly because there was no evidence at the time that linked him to being a person of interest.
The previously cold case of the death of Arlis Perry was solved in 2018
The murder went unsolved for nearly 40 years, with it sometimes being linked to the Son of Sam killer, David Berkowitz. It was thought the murder might have been linked to a satanic cult, because of how it resembled a ritual killing and, in the Netflix series, Berkowitz is linked to the crime because he sent a detective a package containing the book The Anatomy of Witchcraft and a written note that read: “Arliss Perry, hunted, stalked and slain. Followed to California.”
Arlis Perry’s death was said to be the biggest unsolved crime in Santa Clara County history because of where it occurred and how the murder was committed. However in 2018, new DNA evidence found that the security guard at the church, Stephen Blake Crawford, was the person who killed her.
Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith, said at news conference at the time: “There was no DNA at the time of the murder, but there had been enhancements in capability and we continued to submit evidence to the crime lab.” She added that the new DNA sample had come from an item of Perry’s clothing.
The police raid shown in the final episode of The Sons of Sam on Netflix was that of 72-year-old Stephen Blake Crawford. Armed police attended his home, and the gunshot heard in the Netflix documentary was Crawford committing suicide before he could be arrested. He reportedly stalled detectives when they arrived, saying he wasn’t dressed, before shooting himself in bed. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Detectives had arrived to his San Jose apartment to serve a search warrant, and there they found a copy of Maury Terry’s book, The Ultimate Evil, which is about the Sons of Sam killings and the potential links to a cult. This has led people to believe that Crawford was too part of the cult, or maybe he knew Maury Terry was on to him.
As well as the book, detectives reportedly also found a two-year-old suicide note, believed to have been written after he had been interviewed by a detective over the death of Arlis Perry.
The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.