The nearly 4 decade-long question of whether serial killer David Berkowitz acted alone is the conspiracy at the centre of the new Netflix docuseries The Sons of Sam: A Descent into Darkness. The show follows investigative journalist Maury Terry and his increasing obsession with Berkowitz’s cases, his will to uncover the truth behind these killings. It gives an all-encompassing glance into the case that took the world by storm in 1976 and the irreversible hold it had on Terry’s life. Here is all you need to know about Netflix’s newest binge-worthy treat and where the cast from Sons of Sam are today.
Maury Terry’s life’s work
Maury Terry was an American investigative journalist whose life work was to reveal the truth behind the murders committed by David Berkowitz, or ‘The Son of Sam’. Berkowitz murdered 6 people and wounded 7 in eight separate shooting attacks in New York City, beginning in the summer of 1976. While Berkowitz pleaded guilty and was convicted with six consecutive life sentences, Terry believed that there was more to these cases that needed to be uncovered. Due to mismatches between eyewitness accounts and mugshots of Berkowitz, Terry’s theory was that there were multiple people involved in these killings. He proposed that Berkowitz was a member of a larger satanic cult called, ‘The Children’ and that the killings were committed not by one ‘Son’ but multiple ‘Sons of Sam’.
Terry’s insatiable interest in this case drove him to quit his job at IBM and committed the rest of his life to uncovering the truth behind these murders. He released a book, The Ultimate Evil, in 1987, which chronicles his findings and even interviewed Berkowitz a number of times to corroborate his theory. Terry passed away from heart failure in 2015, but his close friend and director Josh Zeman ensured his legacy would not be forgotten. Zeman was gifted the entirety of Terry’s case files after he died and later used these to create The Sons of Sam on Netflix to honour his friend.
Who were John and Sam Carr?
In 1993, Berkowitz made the shocking claim that his neighbour, Sam Carr’s dog had commanded him to murder his victims. The Netflix series takes a closer look at how Sam’s son, John Carr, was a likely accomplice of Berkowitz. Eyewitness accounts claimed that the murderer was tall and blonde, matching John’s appearance, and in 1977, after Berkowitz’s arrest, he suspiciously went missing. After John was found dead in 1978, which is now believed to be by homicide, investigators established that John had been found scribbling the Son of Sam symbol in telephone books and that he was the leader of a cult.
In a 1997 interview with Terry, Berkowitz claims that John Carr and his brother Michael were also guilty of these killings and admitted to being involved with the cult. Terry’s theories have been dismissed and thought to be questionable by most. However, the Netflix series makes a convincing case corroborating his claims that Berkowitz did not act alone and that the Carrs were indeed involved.
Solo killer or serial Satanist?
Where is David Berkowitz today?
In 2021, Berkowitz, 69, is still serving his six life sentences at Shawangunk Correctional Facility in the Hudson Valley. As he pleaded guilty, Berkowitz was eligible for parole after 25 years in prison. However, he denied this opportunity stating that he ‘doesn’t deserve it’ and takes responsibility for each killing for which he was convicted. He maintains that he was driven by his faith and will to serve Satan, but claims today that this is a compulsion he now feels freed from.
Whether there was just one or multiple ‘Sons of Sam’ is the conspiracy delved into in this binge-worthy new series. You can catch all four episodes on Netflix now to consider Maury Terry’s compelling theories and decide the truth in these yourself.