How did ‘Son of Sam’ laws come to be known by their unusual name?

Friday, June 4, 2004

Serial killer David Berkowitz terrorized the city of New York during much of 1976 and 1977. He killed and wounded several people, allegedly on orders from a spirit that inhabited the body of his neighbor whose first name was Sam. According to Berkowitz, this spirit spoke to him through Sam’s dog. The media dubbed Berkowitz the “Son of Sam” after he referred to himself as such in a letter left at one of the crime scenes. After he was apprehended, Berkowitz was reportedly offered a substantial amount of money for the rights to his story. After hearing these reports, the New York Assembly in 1977 passed a law that was designed to prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes. This statute, which inspired several similar laws across the country, was nicknamed the “Son of Sam” law.