Son of Sam murders

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Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti

Carl Denaro and Rosemary Keenan

Donna DeMasi and Joanne Lomino

Christine Freund and John Diel

Virginia Voskerichian

Alexander Esau and Valentina Suriani

Sal Lupo and Judy Placido

Stacy Moskowitz and Robert Violante

Official investigation

Initial police work

Capture of Berkowitz

Main article: David Berkowitz


Cult details

Others involved

Structure and history

Related articles: Process Church, Alfred Hunt Howell, Roy Cohn, ...

Nationwide operations

Related articles: Manson Family, Arlis Perry murder, Bill Mentzer

See also


External links

Victim information

  • Donna Lauria and Jody Valenti - 1976/07/29 in the Bronx
    • Note that Lauria was an ambulance technician who might have become aware of a drug ring involving Nugan Hand Bank that imported Golden Triangle heroin into the US through blood supplies
  • Carl Denaro and Rosemary Keenan - 1976/10/23 in Queens
    • Note that Denaro was a security guard for Citibank, a major bank involved in worldwide money laundering operations, purportedly including those of the Nugan Hand Bank
    • Ed Opperman interview in 2017 with Son of Sam victim Carl Denaro - mentions the local cult leader only named as "Mr. Real Estate" and brings up Durst as one suspect; brings up a yellow Volkswagen seen at many murder scenes and part of the initial news reports, which was excised from the account of the murders after Berkowitz was found not to have them; says that Terry's files are in safe hands following his passing; discussion of possibility that Bill Mentzer was the Zodiac Killer; both DeNaro and Opperman mention the one-page INS document posted by Terry about Sirhan Sirhan being at Sharon Tate's house; brings up that Process founder Mary Ann de Grimston was a high-class call girl living close to where the Profumo affair prostitutes were; DeNaro expresses a belief that Timothy Wyllie's denials of Process Church crimes are unconvincing even to Wyllie himself; gives a criticism of serial killer profiling; discusses how the Process Church moved to Atlanta right after the Son of Sam murders (Denaro says "that's fact") and the Atlanta child murders happened immediately thereafter
    • People, "Survivor of the 'Son of Sam' Speaks Out 41 Years Later: 'I'm One of the Luckiest Guys in the World'", 2017/07/27
  • Donna DeMasi and Joanne Lomino - 1976/11/27 in Queens
    • ...
  • Christine Freund and John Diel - 1977/01/30 in Queens
    • Note that Freund was a secretary for Reynolds Securities, a financial institution in Manhattan which purportedly did business with Citibank and Nugan Hand Bank
  • Virginia Voskerichian - 1977/03/08 in Queens
    • ...
  • Alexander Esau and Valentina Suriani - 1977/04/17 in the Bronx
    • ...
  • Sal Lupo and Judy Placido - 1977/06/26 in Queens
    • ...
  • Stacy Moskowitz and Robert Violante - 1977/07/31 in Brooklyn
    • ...

Cult structure

  • John Carr - longtime cult member who recruited John Paul Ranieri into a Mafia prostitution ring; lived in Rochester NY in the early 1970s, and perhaps participated in the Alphabet murders there; went on to work at Minot Air Force Base, participating in a cult in North Dakota while also frequently commuting back to New York
    • ...
  • Michael Carr
    • ...
  • Wheat Carr
    • ...
  • Fred Cowan - an avowed neo-Nazi; on Valentine's Day 1977, he committed a massacre at the Neptune Worldwide Moving Company (a company possibly linked to shipping illicit cargo) and then killed himself
    • ...
  • David O'Gorman - known as Gorman Johnson in The Ultimate Evil
    • ...
  •  ??? - known as Peter Shane in The Ultimate Evil
    • ...
  • Jim Faulkner - bought the home of Sam Carr
    • ...
  •  ??? - known as Reeve Rockman in The Ultimate Evil (TODO find name); worked in the same building as Christine Freund; known to North Dakota authorities as being acquainted with John Carr
    • ...
  • Barry Dossenko - known as Larry Milenko in The Ultimate Evil
    • ...
    • Meth production in the 1980s
      • ...
  • Alfred Hunt Howell - the leader in New York known as Mr. Real Estate and Moloch
    • kidkenoma, "UPDATE: MR REAL ESTATE", 2019/01/01
    • New York Times, "RUTH REA MARRIED TO ALFRED HOWELL; Pittsburgh Girl Becomes Bride of New Yorker at Summer Home of Her Parents MADE DEBUT HERE IN 1935 She Is Granddaughter of Mrs. Cleveland H. Dodge--Bridegroom Son of Banker", 1938/09/19: "Announcement has been made here of the marriage of Miss Ruth Rea, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Childs Rea of Pittsburgh, to Alfred Hunt Howell, son of Mr., and Mrs. Alfred C. Howell of 815 Park Avenue, which took place Saturday at Bakobils, the Summer home in Rector, Pa., of the bride's parents."
    • New York Times, "A.H. Howell, 83, Book-Loving Banker", 1996/04/28: "Alfred Hunt Howell, a retired banker and philanthropist, died on Tuesday at his home in Riverdale, the Bronx. He was 83. He retired in 1972 as vice president for pension-fund investments at Citibank after 35 years with the bank. In retirement he pursued history and Middle Eastern studies at Columbia University. He learned Arabic and received a Ph.D. in medieval history in 1993, when he was 80. He had graduated from Princeton University in 1934 and earned a master's in philosophy at Columbia in 1978. His interest in philosophy and theology prompted his book "Who Made You? Theology, Science and Human Responsibility" (Praeger, 1989). As a collector of rare books, he was active for 54 years in the Grolier Club, the library and gathering place for bibliophiles on East 60th Street, of which he was a past president. He also was a trustee of the Frick Collection. He was a longtime benefactor of the Young Men's Christian Association and served as a trustee, board chairman and president at the metropolitan, state and national levels. He was also a director and vice president of the Bronx-based Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation. A native of Wyoming, Ohio, he arrived in Riverdale in the late 1940's and soon delved into community work, supporting a long list of cultural, recreational and social service institutions in the Bronx. Mr. Howell is survived by two sons, Alfred H. Jr., of Reston, Va., and Henry P., of Arlington, Va.; a daughter, Ann H. Armstrong of West Chester, Pa.; six grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter. His wife of 55 years, Ruth Rea Howell, died in 1993."
    • Intelligence connections
      • ...
      • TODO: look into the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, which is alleged by some sources to be a CIA front group
      • ...
    • Murder by Nicolaj Amman - note that former Phoenix Program head and CIA director William Colby was killed days later on April 27
      • New York Times, "Man Is Charged in 1996 Killing of Philanthropist", 1998/11/25: "The Bronx District Attorney, Robert T. Johnson, has charged Nikolaj Amann, 25, with first-degree murder, robbery, burglary, criminal possession of stolen property and criminal possession of a weapon in the April 23, 1996, slaying of Alfred H. Howell at Mr. Howell's Riverdale mansion. [...] According to family members and law enforcement officials, Mr. Howell's butler found the 83-year-old millionaire lying next to his bed in a pool of blood on April 24, 1996. But when Mr. Howell's doctor and police detectives arrived at the mansion on Palisade Avenue, they found nothing amiss and the elderly man's death was attributed to a heart attack. But in September 1996, detectives in Harrison, N.Y., arrested Mr. Amann on unrelated burglary charges stemming from a break-in in Westchester County, prosecutors said. While in custody, Mr. Amann confessed to shooting Mr. Howell during a robbery at the mansion, said law enforcement officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The death was reclassified as a homicide this September, according to prosecutors and family members. Mr. Howell's son, Alfred Hunt Howell Jr., said yesterday that the case had been hampered by an inadequate investigation and resistance from the New York City Police Department."
      • New York Daily News, "Tycoon's heart attack looking like murder", 1999/01/10: "A Bronx millionaire who cops first thought died of a heart attack in 1996 might have been gunned down in his Riverdale mansion by an armed robber, the Daily News has learned. Forensic tests performed on Alfred Hunt Howell indicate that there were fragments of lead in his ashes, sources told The News. The lab tests were ordered after murder suspect Nicolaj Amman confessed to investigators that he shot Howell after the 83-year-old millionaire surprised him as he was burglarizing the mansion. The forensic tests and Amman's confession raise serious questions about how police handled the initial investigation of the death. Police had concluded that Howell died of natural causes and released the body of the retired banker and philanthropist for cremation without an autopsy. [...] Cops and detectives from the 50th Precinct went to Howell's stately home overlooking the Hudson River on April 23, 1996, after the millionaire's body was found lying in blood in his bedroom. An empty wallet on the bed apparently did not raise the cops' suspicions. Family members contacted Bronx Supreme Court Justice Daniel Fitzgerald about their suspicions, and he referred the family to a lawyer, Larry Sheehan. The lawyer — who coincidentally has been appointed by the court to represent Amman — never met with the Howells, and the suspicions remained unexplored. The investigation was reopened after Amman was arrested for burglary in Westchester and told cops there that he had information about the slaying. Amman first tried to pin the slaying on two other men, claiming he was only a lookout. After a police probe cleared the two men, Amman admitted pistol-whipping the victim and then shooting him. [...] Detectives close to the case say they don't believe Amman shot Howell, and have floated the theory that the victim was bludgeoned with a candlestick holder."

Organized crime enterprises

  • Child trafficking and pornography - connected to the Mafia; clients included J. Edgar Hoover
    • John Paul Ranieri a.k.a. Brother John story
      • From p.1061-1062 of The Ultimate Evil: The Truth about the Cult Murders: Son of Sam & Beyond by Maury Terry (1999):

            According to Brother John, the Westchester cult was spawned far back in the early 1950s, courtesy of a Nazi-sympathizing doctor who traveled from England to north Yonkers in the postwar years. "It started as a ritual magic club that specialized in sex with children and drug dealing, and it grew from there," Brother John said. "The heavy satanism came later—but they were doing stuff long before Berkowitz came along. It was well organized, and they had some big connections in Yonkers and Manhattan."
            Brother John, who also spoke to the police, explained that John Carr recruited him and several other adolescents into the group in 1961, when all were high school freshmen in Yonkers. He emotionally described how he and three other youths were raped during an initiation ritual in Untermyer Park —a ceremony at which dogs were sacrificed.
            "After that, the leaders turned me and some other kids into teenaged prostitutes," he continued. "They operated out of a bar near the Carr house — and from there they sent us to big hotels and parties in Manhattan, where we turned tricks with their rich friends and other clients. They were all money people."
            Brother John revealed that he saw still another phase of the enterprise. "I personally know that in Manhattan they had some cops and politicians on their payroll, and a few of those guys were also my clients. There were also tie-ins to the Mob through the gay bars, the pornography and the sex shops."
      • At 24:37 in the A&E Investigative Reports documentary, Ranieri tells his story under the name Brother John Paul
      • New York Times, "Gay Marchers Celebrate History in 2 Parades", 1994/06/27: "One of the passengers in the Mustang was John Paul Ranieri of Milwaukee, who said he was on his first return visit to New York since the Stonewall clash, during which, he said, he was beaten two nights in a row and had to receive five stitches after a police officer hit him with a flashlight. "The only way I can describe this experience is that it is like a Vietnam vet going back to Saigon for a reunion," he said. "It's not exactly a pleasant experience." Asked how he felt to see police officers lining the route, he said, "I still cringe. But what I find amazing is that they're protecting us today.""
      • From p.95-96 of Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter (2004):

            From information published in the 1993 book Official and Confidential: The Secret Life of J. Edgar Hoover, by Anthony Summers, Ginsberg's intuition has been proved correct. Not only did Summers discover that the Mafia had photographic evidence implicating Hoover in homosexual activity, but it also came to light that Hoover at times dressed in female attire. Research conducted for this book strongly suggests that Ed Murphy had one or more of these photographs, which allowed him to avoid serving time in prison for leading an extensive national blackmail ring.
            John Paul Ranieri, a former prostitute interviewed for this history, provided critical testimony for corroborating and better understanding the larger implications of Murphy's criminal enterprises for gay history. Ranieri said that as a youth from Westchester County he had been forced by blackmail and Mafia-supplied drugs into a prostitution ring in which he remained active for three years before he escaped the mob's control. He claimed that a number of youths in the ring had disappeared after they got careless with talk, for while most of the customers were more or less average homosexual men with money, the regular clientele, according to Ranieri, also included famous men such as Malcolm Forbes, Cardinal Spellman, Liberace, U.S. Senators, a vice president of the United States, one of the most famous rock musicians, and J. Edgar Hoover. The mob's order, according to Ranieri, was strictly "Keep your zipper open and your mouth shut."
            Ranieri said that he met J. Edgar Hoover at private parties at the Plaza Hotel and that Hoover's name was never mentioned. Hoover was always in drag, and Ranieri said he could tell that the FBI director was sure that no one recognized him. Ranieri said that he had ensured his own survival by having in his possession a photograph of himself with Hoover, given to him by the photographer.
      • After Ranieri moved to the Midwest, he started his own street ministry in Milwaukee, ended up going to Rome in 1983 to meet Pope John Paul II (ed. note: Pat Sullivan brought Pope John Paul II to Denver in 1993), and became acquainted with Jeffrey Dahmer, himself a likely member of the Process / Hand of Death cult dating back to his time in Miami, through the local gay community
  • Heroin importation - likely connected to CIA drug trafficking out of the Golden Triangle that smuggled heroin through blood supplies and laundered profits through the Nugan Hand Bank; may link to Philip Arthur Thompson (owned a medical supply business) as well as Ike Atkinson and Jeffrey MacDonald
    • From p.761-762 of The Ultimate Evil: The Truth about the Cult Murders: Son of Sam & Beyond:

          Heroin from Southeast Asia was also shipped, Vinny said. "They used hospital and medical connections. [Name withheld] told me they used a hospital and another company in Hawaii as two places that got the shit ready to come to the U.S.— to New York and maybe other places. The heroin was supposed to go into blood or plasma shipments and other hospital accomplices would then handle it here."
          Once again, we were looking at medical links.
          Vinny, incarcerated in a New York prison, sent me the names and phone numbers of several Hawaiian locations, including a large hospital and a quarrying company. An FBI agent confirmed via the Bureau's Honolulu office that the addresses and phone numbers were in fact accurate. The list did not originate with Berkowitz.
  • Call girl operations
    • ...

Prominent individuals

  • From p.761-762 of The Ultimate Evil: The Truth about the Cult Murders: Son of Sam & Beyond:

        When Berkowitz was arrested, he possessed a list of telephone numbers, which were barely investigated by the NYPD. No names accompanied these particular numbers, and the NYPD simply dialed them and wrote down notations such as "female answers" or "no answer." That was the extent of the Police Department's work.
        However, with the original paperwork in hand, I was able to enlist sources in the telephone company to identify the names behind the mysterious numbers. In light of what Vinny (and, earlier, Berkowitz) wrote about doctors and lawyers being connected to the cult, the results of the Berkowitz phone numbers search were intriguing.
        One number was identified as that of an exclusive country club in Long Island's Hamptons area: the Montauk Golf and Racquet Club. Two other numbers were listed to the Long Island summer residences of Yonkers doctors; these were not office numbers.
        Another number was that of a private residence in East Hampton, another belonged to an unlisted telephone in West Babylon, Long Island, and a final number was listed to a private home on exclusive Shelter Island, Long Island.
        Berkowitz also had the phone number of the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida — a facility owned and operated as a major training center by the Church of Scientology. This further cemented his relationship with middle-level Scientology official Michael Carr, at the least.
  • From p.1079-1080 of The Ultimate Evil: The Truth about the Cult Murders: Son of Sam & Beyond:

        "The Process was very sophisticated and dedicated," Berkowitz told me. "They had their hands in a lot of things, including drugs and that disgusting child pornography. They also provided kids for sex to some wealthy people, and I did see some of those people at parties."
        According to Berkowitz, these sex and drug soirees were held at upscale private residences in Westchester, Manhattan, Connecticut and Long Island's Hamptons. His telephone records, which documented calls to the Hamptons and to the Long Island summer homes of two Yonkers doctors, partially supported his statement. Further, two witnesses maintained that occasionally present at these parties were a Yonkers judge, at least two Westchester County politicians, a high-ranking New York state politician, a celebrated but later-murdered physician, a Nobel Prize-winning doctor, and two aides (one prominent) to then-mayor of New York City Abraham Beame.
        Berkowitz also revealed that he met Roy Cohn, the powerful and notorious attorney who once represented—besides numerous other "high society" clients—art dealer Andrew Crispo and the owners of the glamorous but scandal-ridden Studio 54 discotheque.
        "I was at a party at that big house he had in Greenwich [Connecticut]," Berkowitz said of Cohn, who died of AIDS in 1986. "I didn't know him, but other people did, and that's how I went to a party there."
  • Roy Radin
    • ...
  • Andrew Crispo
    • ...
  • Robert Mapplethorpe
    • ...

Other curiosities

  • Top law enforcement personnel involved in the case
    • Brooklyn District Attorney Eugene Gold - pushed for Berkowitz as a lone nut; later revealed to be a pedophile
      • New York Times, "EX-PROSECUTOR CHARGED WITH MOLESTING GIRL, 10", 1983/08/18: "Eugene Gold, who was Brooklyn's District Attorney for 12 years, was charged yesterday with a sexual offense involving the 10-year-old daughter of a prosecutor in Nashville. Mr. Gold, who was in Nashville to address a convention of the National District Attorneys Association, denied the charge and was freed on $50,000 bail. Mr. Gold, 59, was charged with aggravated rape. [...] Conviction on the charge carries a mandatory sentence of 20 years to life, of which 40 percent must be served. [...] Both Mr. Gold, who served as Brooklyn's chief prosecutor from 1968 to 1981, and his lawyer, Victor S. Johnson 3d, said last night that they would not comment. The assistant Attorney General in charge of the case, Edward Bernard, also refused to comment. [...] According to the police warrant, read at Mr. Gold's appearance before a Metro Nashville Judicial Commissioner, Bill Norris, the girl said Mr. Gold had telephoned her in her room at the Opryland Hotel about midnight Tuesday. She said he told her he was coming to her room to say good night. Once in the room, according to the warrant, he kissed and fondled the child. [...] [Gold's bail] was reduced to $50,000 by Judge Gale Robinson when Mr. Gold, who holds dual citizenship in Israel and the United States, agreed to surrender his Israeli passport. Mr. Gold has homes in Jerusalem and in Woodstock, N.Y. [...] In 1972, a New York State Joint Legislative Committee on Crime released a study that said Mr. Gold's office had performed poorly in prosecuting drug traffickers."
      • New York Times, "GOLD GETS PROBATION IN FONDLING OF CHILD; AGREES TO TREATMENT", 1983/10/21: "Eugene Gold, the former Brooklyn District Attorney, admitted today that he had fondled the 10-year-old daughter of an Alabama prosecutor and agreed to undergo psychiatric treatment to avoid prosecution. In exchange for his admission, Mr. Gold was placed on probation for two years. If he remains under psychiatric care during the probation period, the aggravated-rape charge against him will be dropped, Nashville prosecutors said. [...] Mr. Gold, 59, signed a statement acknowledging that he fondled the girl on Aug. 16 while attending a national district attorneys convention in Nashville. He had previously denied it. [...] Mr. Gold said in the statement that he ''engaged in unlawful sexual conduct'' with the girl when he first met her on a bus trip during the convention. He later ''engaged in unlawful sexual fondling'' of the child in her room at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, the statement went on. [...] [Nashville District Attorney Thomas H.] Shriver said he believed that Mr. Gold would seek psychiatric treatment in Israel, where he has a home."
    • Bronx District Attorney Mario Merola - pushed for Berkowitz as a lone nut; later ended up failing to prosecute Reagan Administration Secretary of Labor Raymond Donovan in a mob-connected fraud case
      • New York Times, "MARIO MEROLA, 65, PROSECUTOR IN THE BRONX FOR 15 YEARS, DIES; A Streetwise Prosecutor", 1987/10/28: "During his tenure, Mr. Merola was known for aggressive criminal investigations and tough policies on plea bargaining in felony cases. In a famous case, Mr. Merola successfully prosecuted David Berkowitz for the so-called Son of Sam killings in 1978. [...] Mr. Merola's reputation suffered early this year, when juries returned acquittals in two highly publicized cases that lawyers in his office had spent years preparing. Acquitted of Manslaughter In one trial, a police officer was acquitted of manslaughter in the shotgun killing of Eleanor Bumpurs, a 66-year-old black woman with a history of mental illness who was shot while resisting officers who went to her home in an eviction dispute. The case prompted outcries from both police officers and black groups. In the other case, Raymond J. Donovan, the former United States Secretary of Labor, and seven others were acquitted of charges that they had stolen $7.4 million from a subway construction project. [...] In 1941, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps and became a combat navigator attached to the Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency. In that position, he flew 55 missions into Nazi-occupied territory in Europe before returning to N.Y.U. to finish college and law school in 1948."
  • Christian Gerhartsreiter / Clark Rockefeller
    • Boston Herald, "Prosecutors rock Son of Sam theory", 2008/10/04: "Prosecutors are backing off a claim that accused kidnapper and erstwhile Rockefeller Christian Gerhartsreiter once used the Social Security number of convicted serial killer David “Son of Sam” Berkowitz. But they’re not denying he did, either. “He used a Social Security number that belonged to a David Berkowitz,” said Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley spokesman Jake Wark. “It’s not at all clear if it’s the Son of Sam.”"