NYPD identifies woman as Son of Sam’s first victim


An 87-year-old woman who said for years she was shot five times by David Berkowitz, more commonly known as the “Son of Sam,” has now officially been identified as the serial killer’s first victim.

Wendy Savino miraculously survived the attack, which took place on April 9, 1976, though she lost an eye, the New York Post reported Saturday. The report said that the New York Police Department has officially classified Savino as Son of Sam’s first victim.

Berkowitz was initially known as the “.44-Caliber Killer” but later became known as the “Son of Sam” based on the notes he left at the scene and for tabloid news reporters.

“From the day I was shot, I had my sketches the NYPD made for me, and I carried that around in my handbag every day,” Savino told the Post. “I did not know his name, but I certainly knew what he looked like. I said, ‘This is the man that shot me.’ And of course, once he was arrested, I knew my sketch was David Berkowitz.”

Berkowitz, who is now 70, is serving multiple life sentences in prison after he killed six people between 1976 and 1977 in New York City. According to prison records, he was denied parole for the 12th time in May after he first became eligible for parole in 2002.

Berkowitz told the New York Post ahead of the hearing that he knew he had no chance of being granted parole but attended the hearing nonetheless.

“To not attend a hearing can be viewed as being defiant towards authority, and that’s not me,” Berkowitz told the newspaper. “Most of all, I attend in order to openly apologize for my past crimes and to express my remorse.”

Savino recalled being shot while sitting in her car, saying that she first noticed Berkowitz walking by and smiling. She said that when she turned to get her seatbelt, Berkowitz approached her car. She said that she initially believed he was going to ask her for directions but said that her chest “exploded,” making her realize she had been shot.

She said after being shot the first time, she lifted her arm to shield herself.

She told the Post that the second shot went through her arm, ricochetted off the dashboard, and then went through her right eye. The third shot came in through her shoulder, put a hole in her windpipe and then settled in her spine.

The final two shots hit her square in the back after she pretended that she was dead, the report said.

After Berkowitz left the scene, Savino said she crawled across a parking lot before she found a wall, which she followed. She eventually made her way into a restaurant, where police were called, and from which she was taken to Jacobi Medical Center. She gave the police a description of her assailant, who was later identified as Berkowitz.

Her husband, a leader with the Republican Party, according to a New York Times report that identified her as the victim of a shooting, later sent Savino to England to live with relatives.

“I was absolutely terrified. I wouldn’t go out in the dark,” Savino said. “My children would play on the cricket green during the day and I would say, ‘If you don’t come in by dark, I’m not coming out to get you.’ I wouldn’t answer the phone. I wouldn’t answer the front door. When I went shopping, if I got afraid, I’d leave my shopping basket in the parking lot after paying for it. I’d go through a red light if I hit one. I was terrified.”

Savino says she eventually met with NYPD detectives, who showed her a photo lineup of possible suspects, from which she singled out Berkowitz.

A NYPD spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment from Truth Voices on Monday.

“Nobody believed me,” Savino told the Post. “Even though I showed them the sketch of his face that I had.”

With her status as a Son of Sam victim now made official by police, Berkowitz’s list of people attacked has risen to six murder victims and eight shooting victims.

Berkowitz, who now claims to be a born-again Christian, said in a 2017 CBS News interview that he despises being known as “Son of Sam.”

“As far as I’m concerned, that was not me,” Berkowitz told the network. “That was not me. Even the name, I hate that name. I despise the name.”

Jeff Arnold
Jeff Arnold
Digital Reporter. Jeff provides original reporting on a number of national topics impacting everyday Americans in a fair and accurate manner.

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