During and after World War I, unregulated wages and prices
spun out of control. Many immigrants in
Tampa’s Ybor City began cooperative groceries and even restaurants to give workers more
buying power. Usually coming from
destitute poverty themselves in Sicily, Tampa’s Italians were often the first
to give to those in need, especially striking cigar workers. This store was known as “New Life.”
From the Tony Pizzo Collection, University of South Florida Libraries
1. He was born Richard David Falco in June 1953; his parents were married Jews having affairs on their spouses. He was adopted at the age of three days by Pearl and Nathan Berkowitz, who gave him their surname and switched around his first names.
2. Berkowitz never knew he was adopted until he was a teenager, and even then he was lied to and told his mother had died giving birth to him. As an adolescent Berkowitz would suffer terrible depressions caused by his belief he had killed his mother.
3. Berkowitz entered the Army at age eighteen and was quickly recognized for his superior sharpshooting ability. His tent mates even nicknamed him “Crack Shot”.
4. Berkowitz tried to murder a woman on at least one occasion before he embarked on his serial murder spree. Roughly six months before he murdered Donna Lauria, Berkowitz had approached a girl in Co Op City and tried to stab her in the chest. Her struggling and screaming scared him so badly that he vowed never to use a knife again.
5. Berkowitz would often spend days looking for ideal victims, and often went back to favorite old “haunts” where he had spotted a potential victim but decided not to kill her. He even returned to the crime scenes of his fatal shootings to relive the sexual thrill of pulling the trigger.
6. Berkowitz has claimed in later years that he operated with a satanic cult during his murder spree, and he had help from members during at least three of the shootings. Berkowitz called this cult “The Twenty Two Disciples Of Hell” and stated that they are responsible for dozens of civilian “sacrifices” per year, including his murder spree and the notorious unsolved homicide of student Arlis Perry.
“It’s cold and gloomy here in New York, but that’s okay because the weather fits my mood – gloomy. Dad, the world is getting dark now. I can feel it more and more. The people, they are developing a hatred for me. You wouldn’t believe how much people hate me. Many of them want to kill me. I don’t even know these people, but they still hate me. Most of them are young. I walk down the street and they spit and kick at me. The girls call me ugly and bother me the most. The guys just laugh. Anyhow, things will soon change for the better”
The above letter was written by serial killer David Berkowitz in 1975 to his father, who was residing in Florida. Soon after it was delivered, Berkowitz exhibited strange behavior. He would lock himself in his apartment, only leaving the tiny space to purchase food for himself. Berkowitz would also spend his time writing these bizarre phrases on his walls: “in this hole lives the Wicked King. Kill for my Master. I turn children into Killers.”
Christmas was around the corner, and Berkowitz divulged an eerie fact to his psychiatrists: he was beginning to give in to the commands of the demons in his head, thinking that if he did, they would stop bothering him. On Christmas Eve, he finally snapped. After picking up a hunting knife, Berkowitz drove for hours searching for a possible female victim. He claimed that his demons would tell him when he found the right one. Berkowitz decided to drive to Co-Op City, where he and his father had resided after his mother’s death, and soon enough a woman caught his eye. David claimed that at the time, his demons had told him that “she had to be sacrificed.”
Berkowitz sunk a hunting knife into the woman’s back twice, and was surprised at her reaction. “I stabbed her and she didn’t do anything,” he had said. “She just turned and looked at me.” Only after that did the woman finally scream and run away.