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In the late 1970's, David Berkowitz, the serial killer known as "The Son of Sam" murdered six people in a series of seemingly random shootings that terrorized New York City. When he was arrested in 1977, he confessed and told investigators he'd committed the murders because his neighbor's dog, who was possessed by a demon, had told him to. No matter how bizarre his motive, the city breathed a collective sigh of relief, ready to accept that Berkowitz was a mad, lone gunman.
Well, most of the city did. Investigative journalist Maury Terry didn't believe that Berkowitz had acted alone. He was convinced that the Son of Sam murders were part of a sprawling Satanic conspiracy and he spent the rest of his life trying to convince the world that he was right.
In Netflix's new four-part documentary series, Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness, filmmaker Josh Zeman examines the "Son of Sam" killings through the lens of Terry's increasingly obsessive conspiracy theories.
So who, exactly, was Maury Terry?
Born in 1946, Terry graduated from Iona College and at the time of murder spree he was an in-house writer and editor at IBM. Like most other New Yorkers, he followed the case closely, but when Berkowitz was arrested, Terry began to see what he felt was evidence that the "Son of Sam" was not a lone wolf.
He noted, for instance, that mug shots of the shooter were inconsistent: some showed a curly-haired man who resembled Berkowitz, but some witnesses and survivors described the shooter as a tall blonde man. Terry believed that the Carr brothers (whose father Sam Carr, was the demonic dog's owner and Berkowitz's neighbor) had helped him carry out his crimes. When he began speaking about his theories in the press, he caught Berkowitz's attention and the two began a correspondence.
Terry would go on to make a career of attempting to prove that Berkowitz had not acted alone. He was convinced that the killings were part of a larger conspiracy that involved everything from Scientology, to the Manson family, to a cult known as the Process Church of Final Judgement. He published his theories in a bestselling 1987 book called The Ultimate Evil: The Search for the Sons of Sam, and made numerous television appearances, including a 1993 televised jailhouse interview with Berkowitz.
Terry died in 2015 after a brief illness, his obituary states. He was unmarried and had no children. Before his death Terry sent his boxes of research on the Sons of Sam conspiracy theory to Zeman, and they form the basis for the docuseries.
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