A CITY ON EDGE

August 11, 2018 at 5:15 am

Legendary PIX-11 reporter Marvin Scott recalls the vibe that permeated every newsroom in New York at the time.

Aired on August 11, 2018.

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>>> SAYS, ARE YOU DAVID
BERKOWITZ?
HE LOOKED AT ME WITH THAT SMILE
OF HIS AND SAYS, LIKE THIS,
SAYS, "NO, I'M THE SON OF SAM."
JUST AMAZED NME THE WAY HE WAS O
CALM ABOUT EVERYTHING KNOWING
WHAT HE DID.
>> THAT WAS DETECTIVE EDDIE
ZEIGO, ONE OF THE OFFICERS
CREDITED WITH CRACKING THE CASE
AGAINST DAVID BERKOWITZ TALKING
WITH LEGENDARY NEWSMAN MARVIN
SCOTT.
NEW YORK CITY SAT GRIPPED IN
FEAR AS ALL AWAITED WORD ON
WHERE THE SON OF SAM WOULD FIND
HIS NEXT VICTIMS.
THE FEAR PARALYZED THE CITY.
AND THAT FEAR FUELED
COLLABORATION.
POLICE AND THE MEDIA WORKED
CLOSELY TOGETHER TO CATCH A
MADMAN HELLBENT ON MURDER.
JOINING US NOW TO TAKE US BACK
INTO THE NEWSROOM TO 40 YEARS
AGO AS THE SON OF SAM STORY
UNFOLDED IS VETERAN NEW YORK
CITY JOURNALIST MARVIN SCOTT,
AUTHOR OF "AS I SAW IT: A
REPORTER'S INTREPID JOURNEY."
WELCOME BACK TO THE SHOW.
>> THANK YOU, JENNA.
GOOD TO BE HERE.
GOING BACK SO MANY YEARS, I
REMEMBER HOW -- YOU USED TWO
WORDS, GRIPPING, PARALYZED.
>> UH-HUH.
>> THE CITY OF NEW YORK WAS
ABSOLUTELY PARALYZED DURING THE
ONE-YEAR PERIOD THAT THE SON OF
SAM WAS RUNNING RAMPANT THROUGH
THE CITY KILLING PEOPLE.
HE KILLED SIX, WOUNDED SEVEN,
AND EVERYONE WAS -- IT WAS
TERRIFYING.
ALL OF THIS COMING JUST AT THE
SAME TIME NEW YORK CITY WAS IN
CRISIS BECAUSE CRIME WAS THE
HIGHEST RATE IT HAD BEEN.
THE STREETS WERE FILTHY.
THE CITY WAS NEAR BANKRUPTCY.
ALL OF THESE ELEMENTS FED INTO
IT ON TOP OF HAVING THIS MADMAN
ROAMING THE STREETS AND KIMMING
YOUNG PEOPLE.
AND -- AND KILLING YOUNG PEOPLE.
AND EDDIE ZEIGO FINALLY ARRESTED
EDDIE BERKOWITZ.
HE WAS A FRIEND AND A NEWS
CONTACT AND TALKED ABOUT THE
NIGHT HE ENCOUNTERED BERKOWITZ.
HE SAID HE FOUND IT VERY STRANGE
THE WAY HE REACTED PARTICULARLY
WHEN HE ASKED HIM HIS NAME.
ARE YOU DAVID BERKOWITZ?
>> UH-HUH --
>> HIS RESPONSE -- NO.
I'M SON OF SAM.
ZEIGO SAID HE FOUND THAT ODD, HE
WAS SO CALM CONSIDERING WHAT HE
HAD DONE, KILLING SIX PEOPLE,
WOUNDING SEVEN OTHERS.
>> FAST FORWARD A FEW YEARS.
YOU WERE ABLE TO GET IN CONTACT
WITH BERKOWITZ WHEN HE WAS IN
PRISON.
>> ON THE 30th ANNIVERSARY BACK
IN 2007, I REACHED OUT HOPEFULLY
TO GET AN INTERVIEW WITH HIM.
HE WAS AT THE SULLIVAN
CORRECTIONAL FACILITY, UPSTATE
NEW YORK.
AND AS NOTED, THE DETECTIVE WAS
A FRIEND, AND I ASKED, EDDIE,
WOULD YOU COME UP TO THE
CORRECTIONAL FACILITY WITH ME IF
I GET TO MEET WITH BERKOWITZ?
HE SAID HE WOULD CONSIDER THAT.
FIRST HE WAS AMENABLE TO IT.
I WROTE A COUPLE OF LETTERS TO
BERKOWITZ, DIDN'T GET AN INITIAL
ANSWER.
THEN I RECEIVED THIS LETTER.
HE RESPONDED, BUT IT WAS AFTER
DETECTIVE ZEIGO SAID HE THOUGHT
ABOUT IT, HE DID NOT WISH TO
MAKE THE TRIP UP TO THE
CORRECTIONAL FACILITY.
AT WHICH POINT BERKOWITZ BACKED
AWAY FROM DOING AN INTERVIEW.
HE HAD HOPED TO MEET THE MAN WHO
ARRESTED HIM.
HE TALKED ABOUT IT, HE SAID, I
VAGUELY RECALL DETECTIVE ZEIGO
BECAUSE IT WAS A LONG TIME AGO,
AND THE ENTIRE ARREST INCIDENT
WAS A TRAUMATIC ORDEAL FOR ME.
NOWADAYS, I BARELY REMEMBER THIS
PERIOD OF MY LIFE.
IT'S A BLUR.
I DON'T EVEN REMEMBER IF I GOT
TO SPEAK WITH DETECTIVE ZEIGO
VERY MUCH.
MOSTLY I RECALL FINDING MYSELF
AT THE KING'S COUNTY HOSPITAL
PRISON WARD, AND THAT'S ABOUT
IT.
IT WAS A BLUR.
IF YOU LOOK BACK AT THE VIDEO
IMAGES OF THAT NIGHT OF HIM.
HE WAS -- HE SEEMED STUNNED AND
-- IT WAS UNREAL.
BUT THE CITY WAS IN SUCH RELIEF
THAT THEY FINALLY HAD CAPTURED
THIS MADMAN, AND HE FACED TRIAL
AND WAS CONVICTED AND SERVING A
LIFE SENTENCE.
THEN I FOUND IT VERY
INTERESTING.
AT THE END OF THIS LETTER, DATED
AUGUST 11th, 2007, PLEASE WISH
MR. ZEIGO WELL FOR ME.
I AM DEEPLY SORRY FOR THE CRIMES
I COMMITTED.
I CONTINUALLY PRAY FOR THOSE
WHOM I INJURED, AS WELL AS FOR
THE FAMILIES OF THOSE WHO LOST A
LOVED ONE.
I AM THANKFUL TO HAVE SURVIVED,
AND I WISH TO MOVE ON.
GOD BLESS YOU.
>> WOW.
>> DAVID BERKOWITZ.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO HIM IN
PRISON -- HE ADOPTED RELIGION.
HE BECAME A BORN-AGAIN
CHRISTIAN.
AND HE'S -- HE IS QUITE
RELIGIOUS.
AND HE IS -- HE'S ACCEPTED HIS
FATE, RECOGNIZING WHAT HORROR HE
CREATED IN THE LIVES HE TOOK SO
MANY YEARS AGO.
>> I DON'T KNOW IF THAT BRINGS
ANY PEACE OR SOLACE TO THE
FAMILIES, BUT THAT IS -- I THINK
IT'S VERY IMPORTANT THAT --
>> I DON'T THINK YOU CAN EVER
BRING CLOSURE.
WHEN YOU LOSE A LOVED ONE LIKE
THAT, THERE'S NO WAY TO BRING
CLOSURE.
>> UH-HUH.
>> THE MOST DIFFICULT STORIES I
WOULD SAY I'VE COVERED OVER MY
50 YEARS HERE ARE THOSE IN WHICH
PEOPLE HAVE LOST THEIR LIVES AT
THE HANDS OF CRIMINALS.
SO SUDDENLY, THESE YOUNG PEOPLE,
SO FULL OF LIFE, AND GONE IN
SUCH A WAY BECAUSE ONE MAN,
WHATEVER THE PROBLEM WAS,
WHETHER IT WAS MENTAL ILLNESS OR
WHATEVER, AND WE HAVE TO DEAL
WITH IT -- THIS WAS HAPPENING 40
YEARS AGO, BUT TODAY WE HAVE
SIMILAR PROBLEMS.
THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE STREET,
WE HAVE TO FIND A WAY TO
RECOGNIZE PEOPLE WHO ARE IN
DISTRESS MENTALLY, WHO HAVE THE
CAPABILITY OF ACTING LIKE A
DAVID BERKOWITZ.
WE HAVE TO FIND THEM EARLY
ENOUGH AND TREAT THEM.
AND THAT'S THE BIG CHALLENGE WE
FACE TODAY.
>> ALL RIGHT.
MARVIN SCOTT, AGAIN, I CANNOT
THANK YOU ENOUGH.
THAT WAS -- NO, THAT WAS REALLY,
REALLY IMPORTANT AND IMPRESSIVE.
AND MORE THAN ANYTHING, THE
RESPONSIBILITY OF GOOD
JOURNALISM.
>> IMPORTANT.
>> THANK YOU.
THANK YOU.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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