Saturday, July 20, 2019

Part 6: The Ultimate Evil...Blood in the Badlands...."Hello from the Gutters"

An Investigation into a 
Dangerous Satanic Cult

Image result for images of THE ULTIMATE EVIL
On Saturday, February 11, I cut through the remaining snow drifts and drove by the Carr home in Yonkers for the first time in more than two weeks. In the large driveway, I vacantly noted the usual assortment of autos, most of which belonged to operators who worked for Carr's telephone answering service. There was one vehicle I hadn't seen there before, a blue 1971 Mercury. Unlike the others, it was still covered with snow—to the extent that I couldn't read its license plate. I was about to drive on when I started to think about that snow, which suggested the car hadn't been moved for at least several days. 

Looking around the street, I saw no one. It was dusk, it was cold, and most people were indoors. I took a small pad and a pen from my glove compartment, pulled over and cautiously Into the Maze 243 ventured up the driveway. Quickly, I knelt out of sight of the house and scraped the snow from the rear license plate. It was North Dakota plate number 462-653. 

I had finally found John Wheaties Carr...... 
Blood in the Badlands 
I was too young to remember that October day in 1951 when Bobby Thomson hit the dramatic ninth-inning home run that lifted the New York Giants to a stunning, come-from-behind pennant win over the Brooklyn Dodgers in one of the most emotional moments in sports history. But through film clips, the past comes to life: the line drive hooking into the Polo Grounds' left field stands; Thomson dancing around the bases as players and fans flood the field; announcer Russ Hodges screaming, "The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!" 

It was a Polo Grounds in miniature that roared in my head as I drove from the Carr home with the treasured plate number safely in hand. From the depths of the valley, the pinnacle was suddenly visible through the clouds. It was time to begin stalking John Carr. 

I immediately contacted Mitteager and we formulated a plan. During the next week I cruised by the house nightly, hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive suspect. The strategy was to stick with him if he went out, on the chance he might lead us to others. We also hoped to photograph him from a distance. But by the following Friday, the car, still laden with snow, hadn't moved. Still not discouraged, Jim and I decided to maintain the sporadic surveillance for as long as it took. 

Since neither Brooklyn nor Westchester authorities contacted us again, we returned the favor by not informing either agency that Carr was located. But I'd later learn that the Sheriff's Department, in the course of the secret probe we sparked, noticed the auto, too.

On Saturday, February 18, I was preparing breakfast when the phone rang. It was my mother on the line, calling from the family home in Connecticut. 

"What's new in your little corner of the world?" I asked. 

"There's something you need to know," she replied. 

"What is it?" 

"John Carr is dead." 

At first, I refused to believe it. Then slowly, like an insidious rip tide, the realization slapped at my heels, rose up suddenly and swept me away with a thunderous crescendo. 

"What the hell . . . John Carr dead . . . How do you know?" The questions flew in a staccato burst of confusion and panic. 

"I don't know. I don't know. There's a little death notice in this morning's Westchester paper. It's not a full obituary—just a small paragraph in that column of notices. No details or anything. Just that it happened Thursday in Minot, North Dakota." 

"Dakota? Thursday? It must be somebody else. His car is sitting in the driveway on Warburton Avenue. I've been watching it all week." 

"No, it's him," she insisted. 

"Then are you sure it doesn't say he was from North Dakota? He's been out there on and off for years." 

"It definitely says in Minot, North Dakota. What are you going to do now?" 

"I don't know. I never would have expected this to happen. I've got to reach Jim. I'll get back to you." 

Mitteager, in the midst of a lazy Saturday on Staten Island, was astounded, upset and excited all at once. 

"He's dead? For six months you chase a guy. He lives all these years just fine, and just like that he's gone after we turn him in to Brooklyn and Westchester. This is one hell of a development." 

We then realized we had to learn just what happened to Carr. For all we knew he had been ill or hit by a bus. Mitteager volunteered to contact the Minot police to find out. A long, nervous hour later he was back on the phone. 

"Listen to this carefully 'cause you're not going to believe it. It was violent—gunshot. And they think it's murder, although there's a chance it could be suicide. But they're treating it as a homicide! Either way, the guy is dead violently right in the wake of our handing him over." 

I was too startled to answer. 

"You know what this means, don't you?" Jim prodded. 

"Yes, but for Christ's sake, what a way to find out for sure." 

"If he was murdered, and he was Berkowitz's accomplice, that would mean there's someone else out there, too," Jim continued. "Someone who shut him up." 

"Yes," I agreed. "Either somebody caught up with him before we did or he heard something, freaked out and knocked himself off. There are no other choices here." 

"Hell no. Not with this timing," Jim concurred. "And they've got no motive out there. Now, we've got to pull all this together and get the story out. With any luck, everyone else will miss that little death notice and nobody knows he's John Wheaties, anyway. That Greenberg in Brooklyn will croak over this one." 

"I'm down there watching the guy's car and he's out in Dakota disappearing from the planet," I said quietly. "It just doesn't seem possible. Why in hell is his car in Yonkers?" 

"Because he just flew back to Dakota from here the other day. In a hurry," Jim answered. 

"Damn. I wonder if I was seen in the driveway." 

"I don't know. But son of a bitch, we're in the middle of the biggest of them all," Jim stated. 

It took several hours for the import of Carr's death to register fully. On the one hand, it vividly demonstrated the plausibility of my long-held suspicions. But for the first time, the fear factor also surfaced. Someone—some unknown force—had likely emerged from the netherworld of the investigation and struck down John Carr. But why now? Had that person heard of our work, and would he look for us next? 

For months, I'd believed my analysis of the case was accurate, but it was frequently an academic exercise, written reports, interviews and remote observations and digging. Not anymore. Now, the crushing reality of death set in. 

Moreover, if Carr was in fact slain, there was a conspiracy of at least three. But how many more? The specter of satanic cult involvement loomed ominously over the investigation. 

For the next four days, we scrambled to tie the story together. On the afternoon of the twentieth I phoned Sal DeTorio at the Sheriff's Department to tell him Carr was dead. DeTorio said he just heard about it and asked what we'd discovered. I briefed him and wanted to know what, in light of our meeting of a month before, he was going to do about the Carr connection. DeTorio acknowledged that his office was now looking into the occult in Westchester County. "But we're not into the Sam case per se. That's someone else's case," he said. 

DeTorio was evasive and didn't tell me that his force's inquiry had already widened. But he confirmed that a conversation occurred between his department and the Brooklyn DA. "They're not dismissing any of this, but they won't admit it to you," he hinted. 

I'd later learn there was a significant exchange between Westchester and the Brooklyn prosecution. 

Meanwhile, implying he was an official investigator, Mitteager cultivated a source within OSI, the Air Force police agency. OSI was involved in the case because Carr's death occurred in the bedroom of a housing unit on the Minot Air Force base. Carr, it turned out, had left the Air Force sixteen months earlier. The home was that of his girlfriend, Linda O'Connor, whose estranged serviceman husband, Craig, had moved off the base. 

The information we received was sketchy. But we did learn that Carr closely resembled the Son of Sam composite drawing released after the Lomino-DeMasi shooting, and that he owned a fatigue jacket and was left-handed. The gunman fled that scene carrying the .44 in his left hand and appeared to have worn a fatigue jacket. 

The OSI source also reported that Carr wasn't despondent before his death, which pointed to murder; had expressed a "passing interest" in witchcraft and that his brother, Michael, "counseled people in Scientology." 

On the night of the twentieth, Jim and I staked out the Yonkers funeral home where Carr was being waked, writing down license plate numbers. Unknown to us, the Sheriff's Department was doing the same thing; we probably flagged the plate numbers of an official car or two. 

Fortunately, the rest of the media missed the death notice, and at 6 P.M. on February 21 Mitteager and I sat at adjacent typewriters in the Post city room to pound out the copy for the next day's editions. 

But something happened along the way. Somehow, the probable homicide turned into an "apparent" suicide as Dakota officials suddenly steered our inquiries away from murder. Mitteager and I fought to keep the muddled circumstances intact in the story, but were overruled. 

We also knew that Minot authorities had received calls from Westchester Sheriff's investigators, the Yonkers police, and the Brooklyn DA's office and 10th Homicide, where our recent visits were clearly remembered. The "closed" .44 case was ajar, after all. However, those details were also edited from the story, as was a sidebar piece that raised other questions about the Son of Sam case, including the contradictions at the Moskowitz scene. 

The Post was jittery and chose extreme caution—especially since a call to the DA's office produced a comment that Gold's people "tended to discount any connection" between Carr's death and the .44 case. That was a fallacy, and we knew it. But we lost a concerted battle to publish a comprehensive story. 

On Wednesday, February 22, the compromise version of the article appeared on page one under the headline: "SON OF REAL SAM KILLS HIMSELF." To our dismay, the death was called a suicide, the result of last-minute editing after Mit- teager and I left the paper. 

The story reported that Carr left North Dakota in late January and drove to New York, telling Minot friends he wouldn't be back for months. (Like us, he was unaware that authorities, because of our initiative, were now interested in locating him.) But then, said Ward County, North Dakota, Sheriff's Lt. Terry Gardner, "He suddenly changed his mind and flew back here. We don't know why. We don't know what went on in New York." 

Carr was in Yonkers for just ten days before leaving his Mercury behind and flying into Minot in the early evening hours of Tuesday, February 14. Two nights later he was dead. 

Carr's skull was demolished by a bullet fired into his mouth from a .30-30 Marlin rifle on the night of the sixteenth in Ms. O'Connor's home while she was out for the evening, the story said. 

The rifle, which was owned by Linda's husband, belonged in the house. It was found lying in a peculiar position, on top of the dead man's leg. No suicide note was written. 

The article described the "John Wheaties" alias in the Breslin letter and compared it to the John Wheat Carr listing in the Westchester telephone directory. The story also mentioned that official sources in New York City discounted any link between Carr and Berkowitz, but Gardner was quoted as saying: "If I were them, I'd be interested in that angle, but that's not my jurisdiction. Our own investigation is completed." 

No, it wasn't. Gardner deliberately played with the truth, but it would be eighteen months before I'd learn why he did so. 

That night, with the story on the streets, I watched the early evening newscasts, which reported the information as it appeared in the Post. Later, I joined Tom Bartley, his wife, Madeline, and other friends for a Westchester nightclub performance by the Drifters, a well-known rock group of the late fifties and early sixties. Our table was festive, my date enjoyable, and even Bartley had praise for the work done on John Carr. 

"You may really have something here, after all," he said. 

I arrived home late, only to be awakened by a 7 A.M. phone call from Mitteager's wife, Carol. She was close to tears. "Where were you?" she asked. "I was trying to get you until three this morning. There's big trouble." 

"Take it easy, Carol. Tell me what's up," I soothed, still weary from the night's celebration. 

Carol broke down and began sobbing. "Jim's been arrested!" she cried. 

Suddenly I was wide awake. Not nine hours after the Carr story appeared, and while I was out singing "Under the Boardwalk" with a gathering of friends, Jim was hustled off to jail and charged with bribery of a guard in the "Sam Sleeps" photo epic. 

The investigation was conducted by the Department of Correction and the State Special Prosecutor's office, which was mandated to root out corruption in official agencies. The timing of the arrest was highly suspicious, although authorities said the indictment was secured some days before. Still, it wasn't acted on until the article was published in the Post. 

In effect, Mitteager was removed from the conspiracy probe, and his reputation and credibility were tarnished by the charges, which carried a possible prison term of up to seven years. 

He was held overnight in a Manhattan jail before being arraigned and released on his own recognizance pending a trial. Hearing the numbing news from Carol, who at this time didn't know if or when Jim would be freed, I was speechless. The mercurial emotions of the last thirteen days, beginning with the discovery of John Carr's auto on February 11, had finally taken their toll. I hung up the phone immobilized, not knowing where to turn or what to do. 

At the same time, officials in New York City and Westchester were pointedly denying the relevance of the Post article and privately castigating the paper for speculative reporting. The story was dead in a day. The rest of the media reported the denials, and the Post, stung by the reaction, would back away from the conspiracy hunt and not venture forth again—even though information I uncovered that day showed Carr was being sought for questioning by New York authorities at the time of his death. 

After several hours, I summoned the presence of mind to call Peter Michelmore at the Post. I told him of the arrest, which he already knew about, and informed him that I just learned New York authorities had wanted to question Carr. Michelmore wasn't interested. 

"We got blasted by every cop and prosecutor in town for running that story," he said. "I think we're right, you think we're right and Dunleavy thinks we're right but they've pulled the rug out from under us. We've got nowhere to go on this anymore. It's over." 

"And what about Jim?" I asked. "You had him at Kings County, me up here, and you people were coordinating the whole thing. I never wanted those damned pictures to run, Peter. I swore it would cut us off from Berkowitz, and it sure did that. And now Jim's in goddamned jail over it." 

Michelmore was sympathetic but unmoved. "Jim wasn't working for us. He was working for himself. As a free-lance reporter, he supplied information and was paid for it." 

I realized what Michelmore was saying. "So you're cutting yourselves off from him—no legal assistance, no standing behind him?" 

"I'm sorry about it, but he was working for himself. We didn't know anything about any arrangements between him and this guard." 

"I find that a little difficult to believe, Peter." 

"Well, that's the way it was and that's all there is to say about it." 

"And what about Son of Sam and Carr?" 

"Like I said, we're dead in the water. They got us good on that story." 

And so the conversation ended. 

Later in the day, Mitteager vehemently denied that the Post as unaware his source was a Department of Correction guard. 

"They knew all along. They even supplied the spy camera used to take those damn pictures. I told the photo editor to preset the damn thing because the guy taking the pictures was an amateur and wouldn't know how to work it otherwise." 

I was ignorant of any financial agreements between Mitteager and the Post or between Mitteager and the guard. Money was a subject we never discussed. In fact, it was mid-January, six weeks after the photos were published, before Mitteager even told me a guard had taken them. He didn't offer any other details, nor would I have expected him to do so. I did learn, however, that the reason it took so long to receive Berkowitz's replies to my questions was that the guard, Herb Clarke, had only sporadic access to the alleged .44-Caliber Killer. 

"They got along well," Mitteager explained. "And Clarke would often be in Berkowitz's area and say hello and all. But he needed to be alone with him to get the questions answered. That's why it took so long." 

In fact, Clarke's inability to sit with Berkowitz more often set the stage for Mitteager's apprehension. Jim asked if Clarke knew a guard who had more access to Berkowitz, and Clarke recommended Frank Jost. Mitteager met with Jost in a Staten Island restaurant and told him he was hopeful Berkowitz could be enticed to unravel the conspiracy. He asked if Jost would deal with Berkowitz and get the information out. Jost reported the conversation to his superiors. 

At the same time, authorities had become suspicious of Clarke and confronted him. Clarke was then offered immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony against Mitteager. With his permission, Clarke's phone was then tapped and officials monitored his conversations with Mitteager. Among them were comments Jim made about the Carr case before the Post article appeared, which included information he'd gleaned from the OSI source in North Dakota. 

"Why they would give immunity to a civil employee, a guard who did act improperly, to go after a writer is something I'll never understand," Mitteager said. He insisted he was advised by the Post that his work was within the law. He prepared to mount a defense based on the contention that he acted as an agent of the paper in his dealings with Clarke and  was made a scapegoat—singled out for "selective prosecution." 

"I never thought of it as bribery," he said. "I was after a story and trying to help crack this case open if I could. I told Clarke, and it was on their tapes, that I knew I wasn't doing anything illegal and I hoped he was sure he was covered in that respect." 

Mitteager said the photos, which had no connection to the conspiracy probe, were taken at the urging of both Clarke and the Post. "Clarke wanted money; so he pushed for the pictures. And the Post wanted them, too. I was in the middle of it. I did want a full-time job at the Post, and I was trying to earn a living. The money from the pictures did help me out there." 

With the Post out of the picture, so to speak, Mitteager under indictment and the John Carr link officially denied, I was left without a partner, a suspect or a public forum. I continued some halfhearted work on the case, specifically on Michael Carr, but my main preoccupation was with the fatal reversal of fortune. It was almost as if John Carr never existed. But he did. 

John Charles Carr was born in Yonkers on October 12, 1946. He shared a birthday with the notorious black magician and cultist Aleister Crowley. 

Carr attended Holy Rosary Grammar School in Yonkers, spent one year at a Catholic high school there and then graduated from Gorton High. He apparently enrolled at an upstate New York college, but left to join the Air Force, where he remained a dozen years. He was discharged—allegedly for drug and disciplinary reasons—on October 13, 1976, the day after his thirtieth birthday. Carr had been stationed in Thailand, Korea and Panama City, Florida, before transferring to the large Strategic Air Command (SAC) base outside Minot in the summer of 1972. 

His military specialty was aircraft maintenance, and at Minot he was assigned to the 5th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, performing mechanical work on the F-106. He took some courses, including accounting and psychology, at Minot State College while in the military, and was a staff sergeant at the time of his discharge. After leaving the service, Carr shuttled back and forth between Minot and Yonkers. 

Authorities placed him in the New York area at the time of Blood in the Badlands 253 at least four, and probably five, Son of Sam attacks, including the Lomino-DeMasi shooting, whose composite he closely resembled. He was also in New York at the time of the Christine Freund homicide in January 1977 and the shooting outside the Elephas discotheque on June 26 of that year. He also was believed to have been in New York at the time of the Donna Lauria murder in July 1976 and that of Stacy Moskowitz on July 31, 1977. 

Carr was married and divorced by 1974, and had a daughter who was five years old at the time of his death. (Her name, and that of her mother, will be withheld here out of respect for their privacy.) Friends dated Carr's deteriorating slide to the aftermath of the divorce. 

Carr's ex-wife remarried and moved to Beaumont, Texas— near Houston, site of the .44 purchase. Carr was known to visit that area, and his brother, Michael, told Linda O'Connor that John was in Houston on June 12, 1976—the day Berkowitz obtained his .44 Bulldog. 

Carr, police said, was a moderate-to-heavy user of marijuana and psychedelic drugs, and he was hospitalized on three occasions in 1976-77 for drug overdoses. Police also stated that Carr dealt drugs in Minot, and perhaps in New York, an assertion supported by several of his friends who admitted buying narcotics from him on a regular basis. He was also a heavy drinker—a fact which I'd later learn was known by Berkowitz, who considered him "unstable" and "a weak link." 

In the months preceding his death, Carr received drug therapy and underwent psychiatric counseling as well. A bottle of Haldol, a powerful prescription drug used to treat psychiatric disorders, was found in the O'Connor home in Minot. It was Carr's medicine. 

In the months before his death, he was on the move. He was in New York for several weeks in June 1977, where, among other things, he attended a circus with a Long Island friend. He returned to Minot, traveled to Austin, Texas, for unknown reasons in mid-July and apparently was back in New York at the end of the month. He arrived in North Dakota just before Berkowitz's arrest on August 10, when he made that "Oh, shit" comment as news of the capture flashed on the TV screen. 

In December 1977, Carr left Minot and traveled to the Houston area, where he dropped in to see his daughter in Beaumont. His ex-wife told us it was the first time she'd seen  him in several years, although he'd been in Houston in the recent past. Returning to Minot, he decided to leave for New York again in late January. He packed some belongings in the '71 Mercury, which was registered to the Carr home in Yonkers—not North Dakota, which made tracing the plate futile —and departed for New York on January 31. It is certain he didn't know he was now being sought for questioning. 

On February 10, he sent a Valentine's card to Linda O'Connor, and conducted a lengthy phone conversation with her the night of the eleventh, several hours after I spotted his car. I would later learn that during this conversation with Linda he said "the cops were hot on his trail and he'd have to leave [New York] for a while." He told Linda he'd contact her soon. 

On February 14, leaving his car behind, he unexpectedly flew into Minot, and he died forty-eight hours later. He hadn't planned to return to Minot for months. 

John Carr was running. 

The information we uncovered convinced us Carr was involved with Berkowitz, but there was nothing we could do. The authorities in New York had shut us down. I finally called Sal DeTorio at the Sheriff's Department and was told: "There are indications of cult activity in Berkowitz's neighborhood, but we can't prove it." 

This was a strong comment, supporting what I'd been working toward all along. But DeTorio offered no specific information, and revealed nothing about the death of John Carr, although I'd later learn there was a lot of data in hand. 

I also tried to elicit cooperation from North Dakota authorities, but was rebuffed there as well. With nowhere to turn, I delved heavily into my corporate job, hoping to hide my frustrations in the pages of the magazine I edited. But the case kept gnawing at me, and I commiserated weekly with friends at Oliver's in White Plains, where the bartenders also chimed in with suggestions and bits of information they'd picked up. 

Ironically, two of them, Dave Spence and Steve Sturz, were friends of Norman Bing, the young supervisor Fred Cowan was gunning for when he terrorized the Neptune warehouse in New Rochelle a year before. Bing, who was in frail health, escaped injury by hiding under a desk that endless day, but his condition had steadily deteriorated since. He appeared at the bar on occasion, a shadow of his former self. He'd die several years later, effectively the final victim of neo-Nazi Fred Cowan. 

But despite some encouragement at Oliver's during the dreary late winter of 1978, it was starkly evident that most people wanted to believe Berkowitz had acted alone. The dread was still very much alive. 

In mid-April, I began dating an attractive brunette secretary named Georgiana (Gi), a former Queens resident. At twenty- four, she'd been affected by the fear that engulfed New York's women a year earlier, and to my surprise she expressed interest in the later developments. It was a welcome change from the setbacks and blank stares Jim and I often endured. 

On our first evening together, we went to dinner at Thwaite's restaurant on City Island in the Bronx—a quaint finger of land on the edge of Long Island Sound which harbored marinas, bait and tackle shops and a number of excellent seafood establishments. On the way back, I realized it was the first anniversary of the Suriani-Esau murders and we drove to that scene and to that of Donna Lauria's death a few blocks to the east. 

I pulled into the same darkened spot on the service road where Valentina and Alex parked, and explained what had happened that night. Rather than feeling fright, Gi was inquisitive and struck by a somber reverence. The narrow street was deserted and the dim light from a distant streetlamp flickered in the haze as we talked. 

"One year ago tonight," I said quietly. "And in the next instant they were gone. What's that song out now—'Dust in the Wind'?" 

"I close my eyes; only for a moment and the moment's gone," she recited. 

"Yes, that's it. And who's here in their place exactly one year later and up to his damned neck in all of it? I never would have believed it. I used to live a normal life. And now Berkowitz is only a couple of weeks from taking the fall for everything. It's almost finished—dust in the wind." 

"It's not over for you yet," Gi replied. "I think you know that." 

"I don't think I make a very good Don Quixote," I answered. "I have an aversion to windmills." 

"Don't you think you owe it to yourself, to Jim and maybe even to the victims who died here?" she asked.

For a long moment we sat in silence. A thousand images of  that shooting and the past eight months spun in my mind. Nothing was clear; there were only fractured flashes of myriad events. 

"I just don't know anymore," I finally said. "I simply just don't know. Let's get out of here now. We've paid our respects." 

"You haven't finished paying yours yet," she remarked. "Not by a long shot." 

The words just hung in the air. Starting the engine, I pulled from the haunting parking spot and drove back to White Plains, nudging the speed limit all the way. 

A week later, the hammer fell again as my close friend Ben Carucci died at forty-four. He and his wife, Lee, were opening their summer home when death struck. I was deeply saddened by the loss and observed from a distant daze as Berkowitz prepared to plead guilty. In a final gesture, I phoned one of his attorneys, Leon Stern, and urged him to confront Berkowitz with the evidence we'd found. A few days later, Stern's associate, Ira Jultak, advised me Berkowitz refused to answer any of the questions. 

"We're interested in John Carr, and Michael, too," Jultak told me. "But we're getting no cooperation at all from our client." 

The way was finally cleared. There were no options left, and on May 8 Berkowitz stoically entered guilty pleas in Brooklyn before a panel of three judges—one from each borough in which shootings occurred—in a courtroom jammed with spectators, press and victims' families. I couldn't bring myself to attend, but Jim, rousing himself from his own adversity, covered the session for us. 

It was, as many noted, a carefully programmed event. No trick or probing questions were put to Berkowitz. His answers were mainly "yes" and "no" responses stipulating that he indeed committed all the crimes. And then it was over. 

With summer on the horizon, I retreated to Fire Island for three weeks in July to decide what to do in the future. Our old friends were also there. Along with the socializing, I spent several hours discussing the case with Carl Kelly, an NYPD officer. 

He wasn't surprised that the evidence, as we then knew it, was disregarded, and was concerned that the case would eventually tarnish the whole of the NYPD. "The information  flowed upward," he said. "There were only a few people at the top who had access to all the details. 

"This case is a hornet's nest," he added, indicating the folders he'd read. "It was so big they didn't dare admit they might have screwed it up. A lot of cops would be ticked off to know all this was allowed to go on." 

"The precious 'system' strikes again," I responded bitterly. "And Mister District Attorney Eugene Gold is one of its main components." 

"Those people aren't going to like you guys at all if you keep on with this," Carl warned. 

"So what else is new? Mitteager might end up in prison as it is." And it was through the beleaguered Mitteager that the initial upswing would come. 

At the end of July, Jim sent word to the beach that Allan Wolper, a columnist for the SoHo Weekly News in Manhattan, had expressed interest in the bribery case. "The photo thing goes hand in hand with the conspiracy angle," Jim explained, when I phoned him from the dock. "I'll tell Wolper about all of it. And if he decides to write it up, maybe both stories can come out." 

For the first time since late February a wisp of optimism drifted in the air. Allan Wolper was indeed interested in the photo case and said that he'd reference the search for accomplices in that context. He subsequently devoted numerous columns to the saga of "Sam Sleeps," wondering aloud why the Post escaped indictment. And, true to his word, he cautiously raised the conspiracy flag. Finally, someone was listening. 

Buoyed by the positive turn, Jim and I sought out several principals in the .44 case, including key Brooklyn witness Tommy Zaino, who observed the Moskowitz-Violante attack from his borrowed blue Corvette. Zaino's statements added more optimism. We were now convinced that Berkowitz wasn't alone that night and almost certain that he didn't shoot the young couple, either. 

Zaino also revealed that 10th Homicide Det. Ed Zigo asked him not to talk to us, which only sparked Zaino's curiosity because he had remained inwardly troubled by the police assertion that the long-haired man he saw pull the trigger was Berkowitz. It was Zaino who was told by police that Berkowitz might have drenched his short, curly hair with water to make it appear long and straight.

"Did they say he carried a garden hose with him, or did he just duck under the hydrant he was parked at?" Jim asked incredulously. 

"Hey, I didn't buy that, either," Zaino said. 

After hearing Zaino's account, which hadn't reached the public, it wasn't difficult to see why Zigo—who knew us from the meeting at the Tenth months before—tried to discourage him from cooperating. 

Meanwhile, another important event was dawning on the legal front. After his arrest, the financially strapped Mitteager secured the services of attorney Felix Gilroy, head of Staten Island's Legal Aid Society. 

Gilroy, an affable, quick-witted lawyer in his late thirties, listened intently as Jim filled him in on both the bribery case and the Son of Sam investigation. In due course, he came to believe that Berkowitz was part of a conspiracy. During one brainstorming session among the three of us, the groundwork was laid for a unique legal strategy. 

Since bribery was often considered a crime of "intent," it was reasonable to seek to establish that Mitteager's intentions were aboveboard. It would also be beneficial to find a witness who could shed some light on the intrigue at Kings County Hospital. 

Gilroy then filed a motion before State Supreme Court Justice Ernst Rosenberger in Brooklyn. In early October, he received the judge's ruling and called to tell me what it was. "Pack your bags and your questions," he said. "We're going to meet the Son of Sam."

The evidence is so overwhelming that only an idiot could ignore it, deny it, and leave it. 
—David Berkowitz 
It's as if each time there's a weak link found someone is there to eliminate it. 
—District Attorney John Santucci 
He said, "Drink the blood. We always drink the blood in the cult." 
—"Death Mask" killer Bernard LeGeros 
Satanism is a by-product. The real motivation for the leaders is drugs. 
—Vinny, a prison source 

"Hello from the Gutters" 
At 6 P.M. on Wednesday, October 25, I hurried through La Guardia Airport to board an Empire Airlines commuter flight. The destination was Utica and David Berkowitz, who was being held outside the city at the Central New York Psychiatric Center in Marcy. The maximum-security facility was a temporary stop for the Son of Sam, who would soon be transferred to a cellblock at Attica. 

After a short and scenic flight at low altitudes, the small jet touched down at about seven-fifteen and nosed its way to Utica's generic passenger terminal. The Horizon Motel was adjacent to the airport, and as I registered I was greeted by a clerk who said several people were trying to contact me. 

I knew Felix Gilroy had driven up earlier with court reporter Lorraine Woitkowski, so I expected a message from him. But there were also notes from Jim, who'd called to wish us luck, and from a reporter named Joe Kelly, who worked for a Utica newspaper. 

Kelly, it developed, had read an Associated Press story about the interview and wanted to talk to us. He would write two articles about our visit. I found him in the motel bar with Gilroy, where we discussed the case for an hour over cocktails. Woitkowski, who was in her thirties, later joined Gilroy and me for dinner. 

During the meal, the mood was markedly tense in anticipation of the next day's interrogation. Gilroy, trying to lift our collective spirits, teased a nervous Lorraine by suggesting she might become enamored of Berkowitz. 

Parodying the supermarket tabloids, he bit down on his cigar and said, "You can even write an article about it. You can 262 Web of Conspiracy call it 'I Fried Eggs for Son of Sam'—or 'Bride of Berkowitz.' " 

Lorraine, who was worried about the prospect of being in the same room with Berkowitz, groaned audibly, and no amount of friendly cajoling eased her tension. 

Later, in Gilroy's room, he and I ran through a series of questions I composed for Berkowitz—queries concerning John and Michael Carr, the Son of Sam letters, killer Fred Cowan, the Moskowitz murder and the cult clues. Gilroy had devised his own list, which centered on Berkowitz's relationship with Herb Clarke, the guard who slipped him the conspiracy questions and took the "Sam Sleeps" photos that resulted in Mitteager's indictment. 

At about 1 A.M., Gilroy wearily looked up from the pile of papers. 

"We're as ready as we'll ever be. I'll be dreaming about German shepherds," he said, and we called it a night. 

I, too, had trouble sleeping. Outside, a steady rain fell and a thick fog rolled in. Beyond the window, the blinking lights of the airport haloed in the mist. Everything was morose. I thought about the past fourteen months and how I'd gone from outside the case to the verge of becoming the first nonofficial person to have access to Berkowitz. So many times we'd danced on the brink of failure and now, almost miraculously, I was a few hours away from confronting the man whose life and crimes had so dominated my own existence for more than a year. It was a singular occasion, one I knew would strongly affect my future. 

It was a long and nervous night. As I tossed fitfully, I began to dread the possibility that, despite all I'd learned, I was wrong and Berkowitz would pointedly deny everything. It wasn't a comforting thought. 

At 9:15 A.M., after a quick breakfast, we drove about five miles through a drizzling rain to Marcy. The wipers scraped noisily across the windshield, puncturing the silence that pervaded the car. The preparations and background work were done; the strategy was set. There was nothing left to say. 

As we drove up the hill to the Center, Marcy loomed ominous and forbidding. Its starkness was overpowering. At the guardhouse, we were joined by Special Prosecutor's assistant Thomas McCloskey and investigator David Campbell. McCloskey was handling the Mitteager case for the state, and he and Campbell made the journey from New York City to observe the questioning. Ironically, McCloskey was formerly an assistant district attorney in Queens and was assigned titular responsibility for the Virginia Voskerichian case before the arrest of Berkowitz. He and I weren't formally introduced, and it would be months before he learned who I really was. Gilroy merely said I was his assistant, which was true. 

Once inside the gates, we passed through several checkpoints and were ushered into a waiting room before George Daley, head of security, led us down a corridor and a flight of stairs. We finally entered a small conference room known as "the Courtroom." In the center was a large wooden table with six chairs placed around it. Lorraine Woitkowski was noticeably on edge, and Gilroy, making conversation, asked where she wanted to sit. 

"I'll know better when I see where Mr. Berkowitz will be seated," she replied. 

Felix looked at her strangely. "What did you say?" he asked. 

Woitkowski repeated her statement. Nudging her, I gestured over her shoulder and she turned around and froze. Berkowitz was already in the room, sitting at the table and smiling at her like she was crazy. He'd walked in right behind us, unescorted and free of any handcuffs or restraint. 

"Oh, I see you're already here," Lorraine stammered, and Berkowitz grinned at her. 

Berkowitz was now twenty-five, about five feet eleven and powerfully built. He was wearing scuffed black shoes, green prison trousers and a short-sleeved green shirt. He had a one- day beard. His eyes were bright blue, and very alert. His dark hair was short and curly, and he'd allowed his sideburns to grow long and thick. He appeared relaxed, leaning back in his chair while waiting for us to begin. 

On the record, all the questioning would be done by Gilroy, and I sat next to the attorney, prepared to pass comments or follow-up questions as the need arose. We were directly opposite Berkowitz. The others took the remaining seats in the room, moving their chairs away from us. Security chief Daley occupied a seat by the door. And so it began. 

Gilroy opened with a series of questions which established that Berkowitz knew and remembered Herb Clarke, and that he indeed answered queries Clarke put to him about the Son of Sam case. Berkowitz stated he answered those questions truthfully.

Gilroy then asked: "Do you know a person named John Carr?" 


"How did you know John Carr?" 

"I don't want to talk about it." 

This was a major confirmation of my suspicions, and I swallowed hard at the disclosure. Gilroy began pressing, and Berkowitz began sidestepping. 

Finally, Felix asked: "Are you intentionally not answering my questions?" 


"When did you meet John Carr for the first time?" 

"I don't remember." 

"When did you meet Michael Carr for the first time?" 

"I don't remember." 

"You remember now that you have met them?" 


"You just don't remember when; is that correct?" 


"What is your present attitude? Do you think you will ever get out of jail?" 


"Do you think if you gave me the answers to these questions that other people might end up in jail?" 

"There is a good possibility, and I wouldn't want that to happen." 

"You are protecting somebody, then; is that what you are telling me?" 

"I don't know, but I don't want to see anyone else in jail." 

With this exchange, my pulse quickened. It was a significant admission from Berkowitz. But he then refused to answer a series of follow-up questions, telling Gilroy that while he didn't want Mitteager to go to prison either, he wouldn't provide any assistance. Gilroy then asked about the word association clues in the Son of Sam Breslin letter. 

Q. In some of these letters there is a code, isn't there? A clever code? 

A. I'd rather not talk about the letters. 

Q. It would be very important to me if you could at least confirm the fact that there is a code in these letters, without going into details. 

A. I wouldn't call it a code. 

Q. What would you call it?  

A. I don't know. 

Q. Doesn't the letter that talks about the Wicked King Wicker and the pine box and all—isn't that sort of a couple of clues to where you were living at the time? 

A. Yes. 

Q. You put that in there intentionally, didn't you? 

A. Yes. 

Q. . . . Did you have any books to follow or did you read anything in preparation of the code that was in the letter? 

A. No. 

Q. Did you completely make it up on your own? 

A. I'd rather not say. 

Q. . . . When you used the term "knock on coffins," that was a reference to Pine Street, wasn't it? 

A. It could have been. 

Q. Did you use word substitution in your hints? 

A. I guess so. 

Q. What can you tell me about the conizations [with Clarke] about the hints you put in that letter? 

A. Nothing. 

Q. You are going to make me ask you all the questions about it; is that right? 

A. I am not going to talk about the letters. 

Q. Could you talk about the code or hints, if it is not too much trouble? Would that really upset you? 

A. Yes, it would upset me. 

Gilroy then told Berkowitz that if he refused to cooperate or was intentionally deceptive he could be ordered by the court to testify as a witness. Berkowitz then agreed to be somewhat more forthcoming. He stated that Clarke talked to him numerous times about the clues in the letter, about John Carr and other subjects and that he answered Clarke truthfully. Gilroy then sought to learn what the authorities had done regarding possible accomplices. 

Q. Did any of the psychiatrists ever ask you if other people were involved in these crimes? 

A. No. 

Q. Did anybody ever ask you if other people were involved? 

A. I don't think so. 

Q. Didn't Herb Clarke ask you those questions? 

A. I don't remember the exact questions he asked me but they were about the shootings. 

Q. If you were to tell all you know about this, there would be  other dangerous people who would get in trouble; isn't that so? 

A. They might get in trouble. I don't know. 

Q. Do you care about society at large? 

A. Well, my world is in here. 

Berkowitz then said that he knew German shepherd dogs were being killed around Pine Street and that he did not phone Mrs. Florence Larsen to inquire about adopting a German shepherd two days before his arrest. He then evaded another series of questions, to which Gilroy responded: "I have all day to stay here. I can stay here all day." Berkowitz glared at him. "I don't feel like staying here all day," he said. At that point, we recessed for ten minutes. While the others went for coffee, I stayed in the room with Berkowitz, walking around to his side of the table and taking the seat next to his. 

"I wasn't expecting these kinds of questions," he said. "Did you have a part in this?" 

"Yes. The cops never went into any of this with you, did they?" 


"And I'll bet you're glad they didn't." 

Berkowitz smiled. 

"It's for the good," I added. "Even yours, though it might not look that way." 

"There's not much that can be for my good," he replied. Knowing that he was a sports fan, I then switched to the subject of baseball. He relaxed, and for a few minutes we amiably discussed the recent Yankees-Dodgers World Series, which he'd seen on television. I was amazed at Berkowitz's attitude; his willingness to chat about sports as if we were two people who'd just met and were having a beer together in a neighborhood tavern. He was alert, intelligent and clear as a bell. Being in his presence, I was convinced the "demon dog" story he told the police was every bit the fabrication I'd always believed it to be. Back in the room, Gilroy began by again trying to get to the heart of the matter. 

Q. How many people are you protecting by not disclosing everything? 

A. I don't know. 

Q. Would it be fair to say it is at least eight or ten people? 

A. Well, I don't know. 

Q. Can you give me an approximate number? 

A. I think it is in the hundreds. 

Q. Did you meet all these people or did they just operate among themselves? 

A. I'd rather not say. 

At this point, we didn't know what Berkowitz was alluding to, but in time the implication would become apparent. Gilroy then asked about the Son of Sam graphic symbol, which Larry Siegel and I connected to nineteenth-century occultist Eliphas Levi. The shooting which followed the use of this symbol in the Breslin letter occurred outside the Elephas discotheque in Queens. Berkowitz acknowledged the symbol had "significance." He added: "I believe somebody put it in my mind to write that." 

Gilroy then brought up Berkowitz's trip to Houston, Texas, in June 1976, where his Army buddy Billy Dan Parker purchased a .44 Bulldog revolver for him. Berkowitz said Parker had "no idea" of the weapon's intended purpose. 

Q. You visited John Carr's [former] wife in Houston, didn't you? 

A. No. 

Q. You are smiling now; does that mean you are kind of not telling the truth? 

A. No, I am telling the truth. 

Q. What makes you smile? You are hiding something, right? You don't want to be completely honest with me; isn't that so? 

A. I'd rather not talk about it. 

Gilroy then moved to the reason he asked Berkowitz about Carr's former wife, whom we never believed was visited by Berkowitz in her Beaumont home, near Houston. 

Q. Isn't it really true, though, that you knew John Carr's wife lived in Houston? 

A. Oh, yeah. 

Q. Can you tell us why you went to Houston? 

A. I'd rather not talk about it. 

Q. Is that for the same reason, that other people may get in trouble? 

A. Yes. 

Q. If you thought these other people were out hurting society at large, you would care about it, though, wouldn't you? 

A. Well, I don't think too much can be done about the situation now. 

Q. Is it completely out of control? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Why do you say that? 

A. Well, it is hard to explain. I don't really want to go into it. 

Q. Do you know if John Carr was ever in Houston? 

A. He might have been. 

Q. Do you recall when he came home from Dakota? 

A. I understand he died in Dakota. 

Q. How did you find that out? 

A. Somebody told me. 

Q. Do you know how he died? 

A. I believe he shot himself in the head. 

Q. Do you know why he did that? 

A. I might. 

Q. You would have an idea why he might have done it? You are smiling now. 

A. All right, I am smiling but I don't know why he shot himself in the head. 

Q. Is there any chance these other people may be hurting people like you did? 

A. There is a possibility. 

Q. Do you feel any moral obligation to tell the authorities about that possibility? 

A. They are not going to do anything. They are absolutely powerless. 

Q. Why are they powerless now? 

A. They can't do it; I'd rather not talk about it. 

Frustrated, Gilroy turned back to the Pine Street neighborhood. 

Q. When you were living there, were people killing dogs and putting them on the aqueduct? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Did you know who was killing the dogs then? 

A. I had an idea. 

Q. Would it mean anything to you if I told you they were still killing dogs in that area? 

A. I'm not surprised. 

Q. You have some idea {who was killing the dogs], is that it? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Would it be possible that the same people who are killing the dogs could also kill people? 

A. It is possible. 

Q. Would you help the authorities to stop that if it was going on? 

A. There is nothing I can do. 

Q. Why do you say that? 

A. It is over. 

Gilroy then probed the letters Berkowitz sent to Sam Carr complaining about his dog's barking; a get-well card to his former landlord in New Rochelle, Jack Cassara, which contained Sam Carr's return address; and a threatening letter to volunteer sheriff's deputy Craig Glassman, which I just learned contained Cassara's return address. With these notes and return addresses, Berkowitz was circling himself as the writer of the letters and a suspect in the wounding of Carr's dog and other violent incidents in the Pine Street area. Gilroy asked Berkowitz why he had given clues to his identity. 

"Well, I wanted the police to come and find me," Berkowitz replied. 

Indeed he did. As detailed earlier, he hoped he would be arrested for these relatively minor crimes and off the streets in the event the cult decided, as was discussed, to offer the police a scapegoat for the Son of Sam shootings. Berkowitz didn't want it to be him. 

Q. How did you come to live at 35 Pine? 

A. It's a long story. I'm not going to get into it. 

Q. Who is the Wicked King Wicker? 

A. I'd rather not say. 

Q. Are you the Wicked King Wicker? 

A. No. 

Q. Is that actually a person? 

A. I'd rather not say. 

Q. Did you ever hear of kids finding dogs in plastic bags? 

A. Yes, I heard something about it. 

Q. You remember before you were arrested that there were a lot of dogs killed in Westchester County? 

A. Yes, I think so. 

Q. Do you have any idea what that was all about? 

A. I have some idea. I'd rather not say. 

Q. For the same reason you have been giving all along? It would hurt people you know? 

A. Yes. I guess you could say that. 

Q. Did you ever like Sam Carr? 

A. No. 

Q. Did you ever like his son John Carr? 

A. No. I hated every one of them. I hated their guts. 

Q. What was the reason for that? 

A. I'd rather not say. 

Q. Who was John Wheaties? 

A. I'd rather not say. 

Q. Isn't it true that John Wheaties is John Carr? 

A. It is a strong possibility. 

Q. . . . You deliberately used his name in a letter, didn't you? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Did you do that to kind of point the finger of suspicion at him or at least cause him trouble or harm? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Would you have liked to see the Carrs [John and Michael] get falsely accused of committing some crimes? 

A. No. 

Q. You just wanted the finger of suspicion to point at them? 

A. No, I wanted them dead. 

Q. But you used [John Carr's] name in the letter; is that right? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Did you have a code name for Michael Carr? 

A. I'd rather not say. 

Q. Herb Clarke asked you about John Carr, didn't he? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Did you give him an answer . . . can you tell me what that was? 

A. No. 

Q. Is that because you don't want to? [Berkowitz had turned pale and nearly collapsed when Clarke slipped him a note saying it was known he was involved with John Carr.] 

A. That's right. 

Q. Parts of your letter [to Breslin] refer to the Black Mass. Do you know what that is? 

A. I have heard of it before. 

Gilroy then tried to zero in on the printing style used in the Breslin letter, a style completely different from Berkowitz's own. 

Q. Do you know what an illustration studio is? 

A. It is where you take pictures. 

Q. Were you ever in one? 

A. I believe the Carrs have one. 

Q. How did you know that? 

A. I just did. 

Q. Did you ever see any of the Carrs do any illustration work? 

A. Well, I know they used to take pictures. They had a studio. 

Q. Do you know where the studio was? 

A. I believe it was in their house. 

Q. Did they have a sign in front of their house—Carr Illustration Studio? 

A. No. [There wasn't.] 

Q. Was the illustration studio listed in the phone book? [A Carr III Studio was listed in the 1976 phone directory, but not in 1977. The listing did not say it was an illustration studio.] 

A. I don't know. 

Q. How did you discover it was an illustration studio? 

A. I'd rather not say. 

Q. Did you know that Sam Carr had a heart condition? 

A. Yes. 

Berkowitz then became evasive again, and stated he was alone in the killings and denied his earlier responses. We put little credence in his denials, as he fidgeted, eyes darting nervously as he claimed sole responsibility and said he'd lied by implicating others. But the spoken word couldn't capture his expressions of shock and surprise at the nature of some of the questions put to him. Gilroy didn't give up, and threw out a question that caught Berkowitz totally off guard. 

Q. Do the words "witches' coven" mean anything to you? 

A. I have heard it before. 

Q. Were some of these people [suspected conspirators] involved in the witches' coven? 

A. I believe they were. Yes. 

Q. Were you in that same coven? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Did you meet regularly? 

A. Well, I can't really say. I don't want to say. 

Q. Was Mr. Cowan involved in that? 

A. I don't want to talk about it. 

Berkowitz then said some people had dual natures and were part "spirit," making it difficult to bring them to justice. Gilroy snickered. 

Q. Can you tell me if John Carr is a spirit or a person? 

A. Well, let's just say he went into the next world. [This reply brought involuntary smiles to our faces.] 

Q. Was Fred Cowan a real person when you knew him? 

A. Yes. 

This was a devastating series of comments. Berkowitz acknowledged that a satanic cult existed and that he belonged to it. Also, he'd earlier stated he only knew of Cowan after his death, but was now admitting he'd actually known him. 

As I heard Berkowitz's revelations, I didn't betray any emotion. I reached for a cigarette and glanced at Gilroy, who was now perspiring slightly. He knew the importance of what he'd just heard. 

The others in the room shifted nervously in their grandstand seats, as they'd done several times during the session. We heard some low murmurs. Gilroy, realizing he was in treacherous waters, retreated to a safer area so as not to alarm Berkowitz or violate any rights which could render his comments inadmissible. 

Shifting his notes around, Felix spent the next ten minutes asking Berkowitz about the relationship he had with Herb Clarke at Kings County Hospital; and then George Daley announced it was time for a lunch break. It was 12:10 P.M., and the interrogation had lasted more than two hours to this point —already longer than three assistant district attorneys spent questioning Berkowitz about all the .44 shootings combined. 

As soon as we reached the parking lot, our restrained demeanor evaporated. 

"Felix, I don't know what the hell to say," I exclaimed. "He's confirmed everything. He knew John and Michael, there was a cult, a word-game code in the Breslin letter—and he says he knew Cowan." 

Gilroy was trying to unwind. "You were right all along. How does that feel? He didn't expect to get hit with that stuff —he was caught flat-footed and let it out before he realized what was happening." 

"I thought we were right, but hearing it from the horse's mouth is sort of overwhelming. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't." 

"He's clever, isn't he?" Felix said. "The guy is no dummy, and he's not crazy either. We trapped him there, and he tried to wriggle out of it by denying it, but he was too late. And then, sure enough, he comes right back and confirms it all again. I think he wants to tell the truth. This afternoon, we'll try to get it." 

Lorraine Woitkowski, who settled into her court stenographer's role like the pro she was once her initial fright subsided, said, "If I never take another job anywhere in the courts, I'll never forget this day as long as I live." 

Just then, reporter Joe Kelly approached and showed us a copy of his day's story. He asked if he could join us for lunch, and we drove to a diner in Marcy. Felix was circumspect with Kelly, as he had to be. As would be reported the next day, Gilroy said Berkowitz was evasive, although "some of the answers were surprising. Just leave it at that." I added that Berkowitz didn't request any breaks in the questioning and quoted him as saying the interview "doesn't bother me. I've got nowhere else to go." We told Kelly that Berkowitz "looked alert and in good health" and that he wasn't handcuffed. And that's all we said. 

On the return trip to the Center, I asked Felix if he believed Berkowitz was lying. I didn't think he was, but I wanted to hear Gilroy's opinion again. 

"No, he knows too much and he didn't want to give it up. It slipped out of him," Felix said. "If he just wanted to lie he'd weave some tale about barking dogs and demons, like he did when he got picked up. Or else he'd laugh at us and say we were full of crap and goodbye. Besides," Felix added, "all this information was dug up first—he's not said anything we can't back up. Hell, the only reason we're even asking him these things is because the evidence was uncovered first." 

In a few minutes I'd see how on target Gilroy's assessment was. Felix began the afternoon's session and received an unexpected shock. He asked Berkowitz why he'd used the term "we" when describing the Moskowitz murder to a psychiatrist. 

A. Well, I have decided I am not going to talk anymore. I don't wish to talk anymore. I am not going to answer any more questions. 

Q. Do you know that by doing that you're prejudicing my client? 

A. I am sorry. I am not going to answer any more questions. 

Q. Is there a reason you talked this morning and not this afternoon? 

A. I'd rather not say. 

Q. Can you give me a reason for that? 

A. I believe you have some ulterior motives in this. 

Q. I have a very ulterior motive: I represent my client. My client was indicted because he had been involved with Herbert Clarke and Clarke was asking information of you. The reason he was asking that information was because he believed you were not the only person involved in this. From the answers you have given this morning, it seems that there were other people involved in this case besides you. If you are going to stop at this point, I am going to come away with the impression . . . that there are other people involved in this case. 

A. I can't answer any more questions. 

Gilroy then ascertained that Berkowitz didn't have a physical or mental reason for refusing to talk. Then he asked: 
Q. Did anybody talk to you or say anything to you? 

A. I have spoken to some people. 

Q. Was it a result of the conversations you had with people that you are now expressing a desire not to confer anymore? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Would you identify those people? 

A. No. 

Q. Did you talk to your psychiatrist between this morning and this afternoon? 

A. I don't wish to talk about it. 

Q. Can you give me a reason why you don't want to discuss it with me? 

A. Some people I have spoken with gave me the idea that you may have some sinister motives to this. 

Q. What could that sinister motive be? 

A. Perhaps you are trying to write a book or make a movie or something. 

Q. Do you know that this interview was court-ordered? 

A. Yes. 

Gilroy then repeated the legal grounds for the interrogation, and Berkowitz replied by stating that he was alone in committing the crimes and that he'd lied during the morning session. "I don't want any books written about me," he concluded. 

Q. When you were talking to Mr. Clarke, did you know that there was somebody else involved besides just Mr. Clarke? 

A. He said there were some writers. A former policeman or something like that. 

Q. Did he mention more than one person? [At this, I gave Felix a sideways glance.] 

A. Yes, I think there were two. I don't remember their names. 

Q. There is no reason for you to feel hostility toward the fact that we had to interview you today? 

A. No. 

Q. There is no reason for you to feel that we are out to take advantage of you, is there? 

A. I believe there is. 

Q. Because of that feeling, have you deliberately not answered certain questions? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Would you say you are evasive about answering those questions? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Do you know what the word "evasive" means? 

A. Trying to avoid. 

Q. Intentionally trying to avoid? 

A. Yes. 

Gilroy then told Berkowitz that his refusal to answer left us with a strong impression that he was part of a conspiracy. "I will give you an example. For instance, the question about whether or not somebody called the Elephas disco and detoured the cops away that night—whether you did that or somebody else did that. If you could answer that question for me, we would know. That would be one example. Can you answer that question?" 

"It wasn't me," Berkowitz said. 

Suddenly, Berkowitz was talking again. I bit my lip and exhaled. 

Q. You have told us you know John Carr, and John Carr, in fact, fit the description of some of the people [composite sketches] before you were arrested; isn't that so? 

A. Yes. It appears that way. .. . It doesn't really matter, he is dead now, isn't he? 

Q. Would you describe him as a friend? 

A. No. 

Q. Would you describe him as an enemy? 

A. Yes. 

Q. How did he become your enemy? 

A. It is a long story and I don't want to go into it. 

Q. But there is no doubt in your mind that as you speak today for this record that the John Carr that was referred to in letters was an enemy of yours? 

A. Yes. 

Q. It is my understanding that John Carr was not in New York. He was in [North] Dakota. How did you come to hate a man who was in Dakota? 

A. It is a long story. I don't want to go into it. 

Gilroy then tried to establish the circumstances under which Berkowitz and John Carr initially met. Berkowitz said the answer was "nobody's business." He then stated that Mitteager and I shouldn't have gotten involved in his case in the first place. 

Q. Everything should have been left to the police officers? 

A. That's right. 

Q. Do you think you got apprehended because of the ticket that was placed on your car in Brooklyn? 

A. Well, there were other reasons. It wasn't just the ticket. 

Q. You knew that Sam Carr had gone to Queens, to the task force, to turn you in; didn't you? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Did you think that the fact Sam Carr went to turn you in would cause the police to come and catch you sooner than they did? 

A. Yes. [This was another major admission. Berkowitz was saying that before his arrest he knew that Sam Carr had turned him in as a Son of Sam suspect.] 

Q. How did you know that [Michael] Carr had camera equipment and the illustration studio? 

A. Just a guess. 

Q. A pretty accurate guess, wouldn't you say? 

A. Yes. 

Q. You are smiling now, aren't you? When did you meet Michael Carr for the first time? 

A. I don't remember. 

Q. Was he a nice fellow? 

A. No. 

Q. Can you distinguish between a person who is—as you would say Michael Carr is—not a nice fellow and an ordinary person? 

A. I'd say anybody who worships the devil is not a nice person. [This answer stunned Gilroy and me, who were not expecting it. It came from out of nowhere.] 

Q. Are you telling me that Michael Carr worshipped the devil? 

A. I believe he did. I believe [John] Carr did. 

Q. What was the basis of that belief? 

A. I'd rather not say. 

Gilroy then asked Berkowitz if he possibly was imagining that the Carr brothers worshipped the devil. Berkowitz said, "I am well." 

Q. You recognize there is a "fact" going on in this room? The fact that we are sitting here asking you questions. That is a fact—right? 

A. Yes. 

Q. There is nothing illusionary about that, is there? 

A. No.

Q. So, you have a definite and concrete reason when you say the Carrs [Michael and John] worship the devil? 

A. I don't want to talk about it. 

Gilroy then went through a series of questions trying to ascertain the reasons for Berkowitz's hatred of the Carrs. Berkowitz said, "They made a lot of noise." As Gilroy pressed on, Berkowitz began to fidget. Suddenly, he broke down and began to sob quietly. There was emotion in him, real emotion, and the knowledge affected me. Despite what he'd done or been involved with, I felt empathy for him. It was now apparent he was struggling within his own mind over the subjects we'd covered during the day. It was also apparent his feelings about the Carrs ran deep, and were intense. After a few minutes, George Daley handed him a handkerchief. The moment was poignant and telling. Berkowitz then softly said, "You can go on." 

Felix looked at me. "You really felt for him. I could see it in your eyes," he said later. "It got to me, too." Felix began again, slowly, and Berkowitz repeated his comments about the noise made by the Carrs. That didn't satisfy Gilroy. 

Q. What would lead you to believe they [John and Michael] worshipped the devil? 

A. I had my reasons. 

Felix then broached the subject of the Moskowitz-Violante shooting. Berkowitz said that he'd taken the ticket off his car before the shooting, that he'd seen the police write the ticket, that he was wearing a short-sleeved shirt with a jacket on over it, but that he did the shooting himself. 

Gilroy then returned to Berkowitz's life in the Pine Street area, and asked him again if he'd called to adopt the German shepherd just before his arrest. At that moment, the session was abruptly halted as two men entered the room. 

"Gentlemen, my name is Richard Freshour. I am with the attorney general's office. I would like to see the order under which you are authorized to be here." 

"I think we mailed a copy," Felix said. 

"I did not see it." 

"Here is the certified copy," Felix said. 

Freshour wasn't placated. He introduced Dr. Daniel Uwah, deputy director of clinical staff, and said, "Based on what I have before me here, I am inclined to refuse to allow the interview of Mr. Berkowitz to continue in the absence of his counsel being present."

"I don't know what authority you have for that," Gilroy retorted. 

"On the authority that this is a state institution and that I am counsel for the institution." 

"That is no authority," Felix snapped. 

Freshour answered: "It is the authority to the extent that Mr. Berkowitz does have an attorney, I believe—" 

"He has been noticed," Felix cut in. "He was sent a copy of the order. I personally spoke to his office before the court signed it and I advised him the court intended to sign an order on a certain day. This is an assistant from the Special Prosecutor's office," Felix said, indicating Tom McCloskey. "He was noticed. There is a copy and affidavit on file of service on all these people. They were contacted." 

Freshour then attempted to confiscate all the material gleaned from Berkowitz. "I am inclined to refuse to allow the interview with Mr. Berkowitz to continue. Additionally, any material which has been obtained up until this time, I am going to request that it be retained here until we obtain—" [talk about a cover up by the city DC]

"No," Felix fumed. "I won't permit that. I don't think you have any authorization for doing what you are doing at this time and you certainly have no statutory—" 

"I don't see you have any authority to be here," Freshour interjected, "and I would request to see the original of the order signed." 

"You have a certified copy—certified by the clerk. I just handed it to you. I might add there is a representative from the attorney general's office sitting in this room and he's been sitting in this room all along," Gilroy said. 

Freshour, caught somewhat by surprise, asked to see McCloskey's credentials and then requested to speak off the record with all parties—including Berkowitz, who had witnessed the heated exchange with detached interest. 

At the conclusion of the discussions, Freshour, over Felix's strong objection, terminated the interview but didn't confiscate the Berkowitz statements. He said he was called to Marcy at the request of Dr. Uwah, who thought Berkowitz was being interrogated for too long a period. (It is my opinion that Uwah tried to stop Berkowitz at the lunch break, and thought he had. But when Berkowitz remained in the interview during the afternoon, he took other steps. But whoever it was, Berkowitz said, tried to poison his mind about our intentions and apparently wasn't concerned with Berkowitz's stamina.) 

Gilroy then asked Uwah: "Were you present at any time during my questioning of Mr. Berkowitz?" 

"Do I have to answer this question?" Uwah asked Freshour. 


"No, I wasn't," Uwah replied. 

Outside, both Gilroy and I exploded. "First someone tries to shut him up during the lunch period, and then we get cut off cold and they try to withhold the material," I said. "I smell a rather large rat in the woodpile." 

"Screw 'em," Felix stated. "We've got it all on the record. You know one of them said we were going too far, that we went far afield. That we were trying to solve the Son of Sam case!" 

"God forbid anyone would want to solve the Son of Sam case," I answered. 

Although I'd flown up to Utica, I drove back to Westchester with Felix and Lorraine. On the long trip, we went over the day's events. Lorraine played a tape of the interview, which she'd made as a backup for her court steno notes. 

"He did contradict himself," I said. "He gave it up, then took it back and then gave it up again." 

"I think we all know where the truth is," Felix replied. "You and I both knew when he was caught and tried to back away. But he kept coming back to the truth. I truly believe he wanted to give it all up. If we didn't break for lunch, I think we could have broken him." 

We then analyzed where the investigation stood. Berkowitz's confirmation of the word association "code" in the Breslin letter strongly indicated, as I'd felt all along, that he hadn't written that communication; at least not alone. John Carr, though dead, was almost certainly an accomplice. And Michael Carr also emerged as a top candidate. And then there was Fred Cowan, about whom we could do little at present. 

"What about the cult?" Felix suggested. 

"That's supported by the allusions in the letters, the dead dogs and the existence of a conspiracy. If there were more than two in this, we're approaching a cult by definition, and the other indications tell us what kind of a cult it was—satanic," I observed. "You notice he didn't even try to deny the Black Mass reference in the Breslin letter." 

"What do you think he meant when he said he was protecting what he took to be hundreds of people?" Felix asked. "I didn't know if that was a BS statement or not." 

"If he was leveling with us, it means that our neighborhood cult has branches in other places. I've got some ideas, but it's going to take a lot more work to firm them up. But first we've got to try to pinpoint the group's location in Westchester. That's the most important thing to do." 

The real significance of Marcy went beyond what we perceived at the time. It would be almost one year to the day later when its true import would emerge. 

Back in Westchester, I approached my neighbor Tom Bartley. I couldn't tell him exactly what happened at Marcy, because of court restrictions which, in fact, resulted in the interrogation's specifics being kept under wraps until this writing. But I was able to tell Bartley enough had been learned to warrant a strong pursuit of the case. Tom was interested, and we looked for a way to bring the Son of Sam case into the headlines again. I knew what that way would be, and it would be in a legitimate, newsworthy manner. 

It was time to hold the Westchester Sheriff's Department and the Yonkers police accountable for some of their actions in the county—actions which enabled Berkowitz, at least, to remain at large for two months and four shootings longer than he would have been had the most basic investigative procedures been followed. 

Berkowitz had been sending a message to local authorities before his arrest. As he said at Marcy, "Well, I wanted the police to come and find me." 

But they didn't. 

The Gannett Westchester-Rockland chain published a morning paper, Today, which served Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, southern Connecticut and the north Bronx. The group also printed nearly ten afternoon dailies in the region. In terms of circulation, the papers reached a considerable number of readers. 

After several months of further investigation and conferences with Bartley, executive editor Joe Ungaro, and Dave Hartley, editor of the Yonkers Herald Statesman, plans were formulated to publish a series describing the failures of local authorities in the Berkowitz matter. We were delayed by official stonewalling, as both Yonkers PD and the Sheriff's Department sought to keep us from documenting what I already knew to be true. 

It was public knowledge that volunteer Sheriff's deputy Craig Glassman received four threatening letters from his upstairs neighbor Berkowitz in the months prior to his apprehension. However, no one except Sheriff's officials knew that the first note, penned in early June of 1977, contained Berkowitz's most recent former address on the envelope—that of the Cassara home in New Rochelle. Likewise, no one knew that the second letter, dated July 13, contained a reference to "Captain Carr" and utilized "Command Post 316" as part of the return address. Carr lived at 316 Warburton Ave. 

Neither return address was investigated by the Sheriff's Department. If they had been, the department would have walked right into the Cassara and Carr letters beehive and Berkowitz, through the matching handwriting on all the correspondence and other factors, would have been identified immediately as the person who threatened Glassman's life. He could have been arrested by mid-June, two weeks before the Elephas disco woundings and six weeks before the Moskowitz-Violante attack in Brooklyn. 

The Sheriff's Department was trying to keep a lid on those return addresses, but I found out what they were and recognized the implications. 

Likewise, the Yonkers police, who were handed Berkowitz's name on June 10 as the suspected writer of the Carr letters and a possible shooter of Sam Carr's dog, didn't even question Berkowitz—who also could have been linked to another dog shooting and the firebombings of the Carr and Neto homes in the Pine Street neighborhood. 

The Gannett editors thought those were stories worth telling. Because of Jim Mitteager's legal difficulties, the newspaper staff decided it would be wiser if his name wasn't officially connected to the articles, so Bartley and I shared the byline. The first piece was published on Sunday, February 25, 1979, and, excerpted here, it highlights the discoveries. 

David Berkowitz could have been jailed on a number of serious charges that would have taken him off the streets two months and four victims before his capture in August 1977 as the Son of Sam killer. . . . 

New information shows that not only private 282 Web of Conspiracy citizens but Berkowitz himself provided the Yonkers Police Dept. and Westchester Sheriff's Office with all the leads they would have needed to arrest him by at least mid-June 1977, nearly two weeks before the shootings of Judy Placido and Salvatore Lupo and almost two months before the murder of Stacy Moskowitz and blinding of Robert Violante. 

Indeed, the evidence suggests that Berkowitz was at the very least taunting local police and perhaps even fashioning a deliberate trail of obvious clues. . . . 

That trail led directly to Berkowitz. . . . From his spacious, seventh-floor studio, Berkowitz says he sallied forth to firebomb neighbors' homes, shoot their dogs and mail letters threatening their lives. 

And although the Yonkers police and Westchester sheriff's officers say they investigated these crimes, Berkowitz was not arrested. A Gannett Westchester Rockland Newspapers investigation has found that if all the evidence had been put together it could have led to Berkowitz's arrest in a host of state and federal crimes including arson, attempted murder, reckless endangerment and threatening lives through the mails. 

The article also reported that officials had rebuffed all attempts to gain access to information, including a Freedom of Information Act request filed. 

With this scenario, it is not surprising that both agencies were less than willing to cooperate with the newspaper series. It didn't matter; the truth was published anyway. 

The series ran in four segments, and the Yonkers Police Department at first threatened to sue Gannett, but the chain, to its credit, stood fast and the articles appeared unencumbered. 

The editors had been pleased with the investigative reportage done on the series, and agreed to add a fifth part to it, which was published on March 1, under Tom Bartley's and my bylines.

The story, under the headline "BERKOWITZ: OTHERS COULD GO TO JAIL," was a landmark in that it publicly raised the conspiracy specter for the first time. The headline was based on a sole comment from Berkowitz's Marcy interview four months before, when he said there was "a good possibility" others could be incarcerated if he talked. 

The article, which occupied more than a full page, discussed the dead German shepherds, some flaws in the official version of the Moskowitz scene, the varying composite sketches of the killer, an allusion to multiple cars at some .44 crime scenes and an interview with Mrs. Florence Larsen about the call she took from someone calling himself "David Berkowitz of 35 Pine Street," who was interested in adopting a German shepherd two days before the arrest. 

Significantly, the story contained an analysis of the authorship of the Son of Sam letters I obtained from renowned handwriting expert Charles Hamilton, who would be the first to expose the "Hitler Diaries" as fraudulent four years later. Hamilton said: 

"I've studied much of Berkowitz's writing and many samples of his printing, too. The Breslin letter is a masterpiece by comparison. Berkowitz doesn't write like that; he doesn't print like that; and he doesn't think like that. Further, he's incapable of it. 

"Whoever wrote that letter to Breslin is possessed of a high degree of urbanity and wit, is well educated and is able to make words flow together beautifully. Berkowitz can't do it, and his limited education shows in everything he writes. 

"The police were duped into believing Berkowitz wrote that letter to Breslin," Hamilton continued, "and then convinced themselves he did it because they wanted to believe he did. But he didn't." 

I asked Hamilton about theories which suggested a "split personality" in Berkowitz might have produced a work superior to his known writing, thinking and graphics abilities. Hamilton simply said, "No. You cannot assume or become a personality or intelligence that is so much greater than your own. It can't be done." 

A friend of Berkowitz, who'd known him for years, put it another way in the article: "If he had a million years and a million pieces of paper he couldn't have done that thing [Breslin letter]. It's just not him at all. If you knew him like I do, you'd know that, too." 

The article received scant media attention, as I had feared, but I was delighted because it represented a major breakthrough in the investigation. The Gannett papers were interested and on board. I got the go-ahead to continue probing the case under their auspices. But the article had another immediate result. With one phone call, I would find the group we'd been looking for—the Son of Sam cult.

Minot? Why Not?