Everything that The Sons of Sam Netflix documentary missed out about the case

Maury Terry appeared on Unsolved Mysteries to talk about David Berkowitz

The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness is the latest true crime documentary series to hit Netflix. The series looks at the case of the Son of Sam killings, of which David Berkowitz was found guilty, and the subsequent investigation of journalist Maury Terry, who believed Berkowitz wasn’t alone and acted as part of cult.

Berkowitz is currently serving a life sentence for killing six people and wounding seven others. He became known as the Son of Sam through letters he had left at crime scenes, and police and the media also called him the .44 Caliber Killer – because of the gun he used. His case became one of the most notorious in New York history, but the Netflix documentary doesn’t quite squeeze all the details in.

Here’s everything The Sons of Sam documentary on Netflix missed out about the David Berkowitz case and Maury Terry’s investigation.

The Sons of Sam documentary goes into little detail about David Berkowitz’s early life

David Berkowitz, Son of Sam, early life, childhood, army

via Netflix

In the final episode of The Sons of Sam documentary on Netflix, we see an interview between David Berkowitz and Maury Terry, where Berkowitz briefly talks about his family life and being adopted as a child. David Berkowitz was actually born Richard David Falco. Within a few days of being born, his mother decided to give him away – her reasoning behind this decision is not known, but some speculate the father had threatened to leave if they kept the child.

He was then adopted by Pearl and Nathan Berkowitz who flipped his first names around and gave him their surname, therefore he was now named David Richard Berkowitz. Berkowitz’s childhood has been described as “somewhat troubled”, and despite him being very bright, Berkowitz is said to have lost interest in schooling. He has been described as a bully as a child, and was often misbehaving.

When Berkowitz was aged 14, his adoptive mother died of breast cancer. He’s adoptive father remarried, and Berkowitz didn’t like his new wife. In an interview for CBS documentary Son of Sam: The Killer Speaks, Berkowitz recalls learning at four or five years old that he was adopted and said that his adoptive parents lied and told him his mother died during childbirth. At 17, he joined the army and is said to have started using LSD.

David Berkowitz had a conversation with the detective who arrested him

David Berkowitz was arrested in 1977 when police found his car and inside was a gun and a Son of Sam letter. Detective Falotico was there, and he asked Berkowitz: “Now that I’ve got you, who have I got?” to which Berkowitz replied with a smile on his face: “You know”. “No I don’t. You tell me”, Falotico replied, and Berkowitz said: “I’m Sam.”

Falotico replied with “You’re Sam? Sam who?” to which Berkowitz said: “Sam. David Berkowitz.” Falotico also says that during the exchange Berkowitz said to him: “Well, you got me. How come it took you such a long time?”

The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness, Netflix, true crime, documentary, David Berkowitz, Son of Sam, arrest

via Netflix

The documentary doesn’t mention The Son of Sam law which was introduced

After the Son of Sam case, David Berkowitz got a lot of media attention and was said to have been enjoying his new “celebrity status”. As a result of this, it wasn’t long before rumours started arising that he was planning on selling the rights to his story, so New York state wanted to get a law into place to stop him cashing in on his crimes.

The Son of Sam law is also known as a notoriety-for-profit law or New York Executive Law Section 632a, and it stops criminals from being able to profit on the stories of their crimes. The money criminals make from their cases often comes from selling the rights to their “stories” to publishers, such as book and film deals.

These laws often allow the state to take the money which has been earned from the deals and paid interviews, and instead use it to compensate the criminal’s victims. However, there have been arguments against the law – with some people saying it breaches freedom of speech and that the law takes away the incentive to share stories which often come with huge public interest.

David Berkowitz and Maury Terry are said to have become ‘friends’ through The Sons of Sam case

The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness, Netflix, true crime, documentary, David Berkowitz, Son of Sam, Maury Terry

via Netflix

It’s no secret that Maury Terry became hooked on The Son of Sam case, and people questioned his journalistic integrity because of how invested he’d become in it all. But further to this, in The Killer Speaks, Berkowitz fondly recalls his late “friend” Terry and in other clips has said that he viewed Maury Terry as the real father figure in his life.

Maury Terry appeared on Unsolved Mysteries

Even after his prison interview with David Berkowitz, Maury Terry didn’t stop investigating the case. He updated his book, The Ultimate Evil, and continued to do TV appearances to discuss the case. This included appearing on season one, episode four of the original Unsolved Mysteries series to discuss his theories about the Son of Sam case.

Maury Terry, Son of Sam, The Ultimate Evil, Unsolved Mysteries

Terry on Unsolved Mysteries

Maury Terry died of heart failure aged 69

The Sons of Sam documentary concludes with how it feels as though a final victim in the case was journalist and investigator, Maury Terry. By the end of the series, it is clear that Maury has passed away, but not much else is said. In 2015, Maury Terry died of heart failure when he was aged 69. He had deteriorating health as he continued his investigating, and made sure the director of the Netflix documentary, Joshua Zeman, received boxes of all his findings before his death.

Berkowitz is eligible for parole, but sometimes skips out on his parole hearings all together

The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness, Netflix, true crime, documentary, David Berkowitz, Son of Sam, Maury Terry

via Netflix

David Berkowitz is now aged 67, and locked up for life at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility in New York. He was sentenced to a minimum term of 25 years, and maximum of life.

Because he pleaded guilty, Berkowitz was eligible for parole after the minimum 25 years, but he remains in prison. According to his prisoner records, he may have another parole hearing in 2022 and his earliest possible release date is May that year.

Berkowitz is eligible for a parole meeting every two years, but has never been granted release, nor requested it, saying he “doesn’t deserve it”. He is also known to have skipped out on parole hearings all together and in one letter to a Governor said: “In all honesty, I believe that I deserve to be in prison for the rest of my life. I have, with God’s help, long ago come to terms with my situation and I have accepted my punishment.”

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. 

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• The Sons of Sam on Netflix: Who was John Carr and what happened to him?

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In full: The letters sent from The Sons of Sam killer, as seen in the Netflix series