THE INVESTIGATION

Retired NYPD detective Bill Clark was assigned to the team investigating the murders. He brings us inside the case.

Aired on August 9, 2019.

TRANSCRIPT

> IT WAS A QUIRK OF FATE AND GOOD LUCK THAT DAVID BERKOWITZ, THEN A 24-YEAR-OLD POSTAL WORKER LIVING IN YONKERS, WAS ARRESTED ON AUGUST 10th, 1977.

BILL CLARK IS A FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE WHO WORKED THE CASE.

HE'S HERE TO TAKE US INSIDE THE TERROR AND TAKEDOWN OF ONE OF AMERICA'S MOST NOTORIOUS KILLERS.

BILL, WELCOME TO YOU.

LET ME START OFF BY ASKING YOU THIS -- WHAT WAS IT, DO YOU REMEMBER THE MOMENT WHEN THE DEPARTMENT AND THE FOLKS THAT WERE ON THIS CASE FIRST REALIZED THIS MIGHT NOT BE A SINGLE INCIDENT, WE MIGHT, INDEED, HAVE A SERIAL KILLER ON OUR HANDS?

I THINK THE THING THAT NAILED IT WAS THE LETTER TO BRESLIN.

BEFORE THAT, IT WAS A RESOLVER SO THERE WERE NO SHELLS, BUT THERE WAS THE BULLETS THAT WERE IN THE -- YOU KNOW, .44 CALIBER.

AND IT WAS IDENTIFIED PROBABLY ABOUT THREE INCIDENTS , IT WAS WROTE THE LETTER.

DESCRIBE HOW THE PUBLIC WAS REACTING TO THESE SERIES OF KILLINGS, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT BECAME KNOWN THAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT A SERIAL KILLER.

I THINK THE THING THAT MADE HIM DIFFERENT -- I WORKED THE INDIVIDUALS, OTHER KILLERS THAT WERE SERIAL KILLERS, BUT THEY ALWAYS WERE TARGETING OTHER DRUG DEALERS OR PEOPLE WHO PUT THEMSELVES IN HARM'S WAY BASED ON THEIR BEHAVIOR.

THESE WERE TOTALLY INNOCENT VICTIMS WHO DID NOTHING TO PUT THEMSELVES IN HARM'S WAY, THEY'RE SITTING ON THE STOOP, THEY'RE SITTING IN A CAR, THEY'RE KISSING THEIR BOYFRIEND.

SO IT REALLY HAD EVERYBODY IN PANIC.

PEOPLE WERE AFRAID TO GO OUT AT NIGHT.

YOUNG WOMEN WERE AFRAID.

IT REALLY HADHECIFULL-BLOWN PAN.

AND I DON'T THINK ANYBODY BEFORE OR AFTER THAT HAS EVER -- IT'S AFFECTED PEOPLE IN THAT REGARD.

SO YOU GET THE STRING OF EVENTS, A SUMMONS ISSUED FOR A PARKING VIOLATION.

A PERSON ON THE PHONE SAYS 'I KNOW THIS GUY, HE'S CRAZY, SHOT MY FATHER'S DOG.'

YOU GET OUT TO HIS HOUSE, THERE'S SOMEBODY WHO ALSO SAYS 'I KNOW THIS GUY, HE'S CRAZY.'

NOW THE NAMES ARE THE SAME NAMES THAT ARE SHOWING UP IN THE INFORMATION THAT'S BEING LEFT BY THE SON OF SAM.

SO DAVID BERKOWITZ WALKS OUT AND LITERALLY HAS A BAG WITH THE RESOLVER AND SAYS 'I GIVE UP, I'M THE GUY'?

THAT'S CLOSE, NO.

WHAT HAPPENED WAS WHEN THEY WERE SET UP ON THE CAR A DISTANCE AWAY WATCHING IT TO SEE IF HE'D COME OUT --

RIGHT.

-- BECAUSE THEY WERE GOING TO GET -- ONE GUY WENT TO GET A SEARCH WARRANT FOR THE CAR TO SEARCH IT.

AND THIS GUY, CRAIG, CAME WALKED UP IN THE CAR, THEY JUMPED HIM.

HE SAID, YOU KNOW -- THEY THOUGHT HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN THE OWNER OF THE CAR.

HE SAID, NO, I SAW SOME GUYS WALKING AROUND.

I WONDERED WHY -- BLAH, BLAH, BLAH.

HE TOLD THEM THAT.

THEY ALL INCLUDING CRAIG SAT A DISTANCE AWAY WATCHING THE CAR.

BERKOWITZ COME OUT TO GET IN THE CAR, AND THEN WHEN THEY GRABBED HIM, THAT'S WHEN HE SAID, 'YES, I'M THE SON OF SAM.'

IS IT A REASONABLE ASSUMPTION, BILL, TO SAY HE WAS ABOUT TO GET IN HIS CAR WITH THE GUN IN THE BAG, THAT IT MAY WELL HAVE STOPPED ANOTHER HOMICIDE FROM TAKING PLACE?

THERE'S NO QUESTION ABOUT IT.

HE ACTUALLY HAD A RIFLE IN THE BACK OF THE CAR.

AND THE LETTER WAS TO THE SUFFOLK POLICE DEPARTMENT SAYING HE WAS GOING TO GO INTO THE OAK BEACH INN, NIGHTCLUB, AND GO OUT IN A BLAZE OF GLORY, SHOOTING UP AS MANY PEOPLE AS HE COULD AND PROBABLY DYING.

THAT'S WHAT HE HAD SAID.

TELL US ABOUT DAVID BERKOWITZ.

WHAT WAS HE LIKE?

WHAT DID HE SAY ABOUT ALL OF THIS WHEN HE GETS ARRESTED?

WELL, I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO GET ALONG WITH HIM IN A -- GET ALONE WITH HIM IN A ROOM FOR ABOUT A HALF HOUR.

AND HE TOLD ME ABOUT EVERY INCIDENT AND WHY HE DID IT AND WHAT STARTED IT AND -- AND HOW HE FELT.

HE WAS TALKING VERY RELAXED.

I MEAN, THIS WAS SOMETHING THAT HE HAD BEEN LIVING THROUGH.

AND YOU KNOW, HE WAS KIND OF LOVING THE GLORY BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY HE LEFT THE LETTERS THERE BECAUSE HE WANTED PUBLICITY.

HE WANTED TO BE THIS KIND OF GUY.

IF YOU SEE THE PICTURES OF HIM GETTING TAKEN OUT OF THE STATION HOUSE AND EVERYTHING, HE'S -- HE LOVES IT.

I ALWAYS THOUGHT BECAUSE I HAD TO DEAL WITH THE VICTIMS OF THESE CRIMES AND THEIR FAMILIES, IT WAS -- IF I EVER GOT IN A ROOM WITH THIS GUY, I WOULD RIP HIS HEART OUT OF HIS CHEST.

WHEN I SAT DOWN WITH HIM AND HE STARTED TALKING, YOU REALIZED HE WAS JUST REALLY CRAZY, YOU KNOW.

AND I COULDN'T GET MAD.

I JUST COULDN'T -- AS MUCH AS I HATED WHAT HE'D DONE.

YOU SAID HE TALKED TO YOU ABOUT EACH OF THEM AND YOU SAID HE TALKED ABOUT WHY.

WHAT DID HE SAY ABOUT WHY HE WAS DOING THIS?

HE HAD SHOT AND HE THOUGHT KILLED SAM CARR'S DOG.

THEN A COUPLE DAYS LATER, SAM CARR AFTER THE VET TREATS THE DOG, HE PUTS IT BACK IN THE YARD, IT'S BARKING AGAIN.

IN HIS SICK MIND HE STARTS UNDERSTANDING THAT THIS DOG IS TALKING TO HIM FOR THE OWNER, SAM, AND HE'S A 6,000-YEAR-OLD BEING AND CRYING FOR BLOOD.

BUT THE ONE THING AND WHY HE'S IN JAIL FOR REST OF HIS LIFE IS BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH HE'S CRAZY, HE KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING WAS WRONG.

AND THAT -- THAT WAS A LESSON I LEARNED THROUGH THAT CASE.

HE WAS NOT -- YOU AND I KNOW THE DEFINITION OF CRIMINAL INSANITY, AND HE WAS NOT THERE.

YOU AND I WOULD LOOK AT ANYBODY WHO TOOK LIVES LIKE THAT AND SAY HE'S CRAZY, BUT HE WAS NOT CRIMINALLY INSANE.

THAT WOULD HAVE IN SOME WAYS RESULTED IN A NOT GUILTY BY REASON OF INSANITY DECISION FOR HIM, YES.

NO.

EXACTLY.

BUT THAT WAS A LESSON I LEARNED WITH THAT CASE BECAUSE WHEN I WALKED OUT OF THAT ROOM THAT NIGHT, I SAID, HE'S GOING TO MENTAL HOSPITAL.

I REALIZED LATER THAT -- NUMBER ONE, HE WAS PLEATING GUILTY.

HE -- WAS PLEADING GUILTY.

HE DIDN'T WANT A TRIAL.

FROM THE BEGINNING SHEHE SAI LET ME TELL YOU WHAT I DID, I WANT TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY?

YEAH -- IF ACCEPT THE RESPONSIBILITY WAS THE PROPER TERM.

BUT HE WAS -- HE WAS -- WANTED TO GET THE CREDIT FOR WHAT HE HAD DONE.

BILL CLARK, FORMER NYPD DETECTIVE.

A FASCINATING LOOK INSIDE THE DETAILS OF THE MURDER SPREE AND THE ARREST OF DAVID BERKOWITZ.

THANKS FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US.

WE REALLY APPRECIATE IT.

THANK YOU, SIR.

HAVE A GREAT DAY.

Funders

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

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