Conspiracy theories are known to be based on circumstantial evidence, if any. They are written off as a crazy story that has no basis and anyone who believes them is crazy. Conspiracy theories come from all groups of political and social groups. This term can be weaponized to discredit information. Netflix’s new documentary The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness tells the story of Maury Terry, an investigative journalist who dedicated his life to the Son of Sam killer. The main “conspiracy” of the series and Terry’s firm belief is that David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam killer, did not act alone. However, the hidden conspiracy in the series is why the cops are covering up the fact that Terry is right.
The NYPD searched for the Son of Sam killer for a little bit over a year until they finally found Berkowitz. All the evidence pointed to the fact that he was present. He wrote letters to the NYPD and the press giving them information that detectives were able to use to track him down. Berkowitz had a huge outburst in court and was screaming about how he commited all the murders and he “would do them again” (had he not confessed he would have been acquitted because the police illegally searched his house before the warrant was signed, but that’s besides the point). With this very public confession for one of the most terrorizing serial killers in NYC history, the NYPD celebrated themselves with a huge promotion ceremony where they gave themselves medals. The public felt safe and the NYPD regarded themselves as the best police force around. Enter, Maury Terry.
After reviewing the evidence, Terry noticed that there were some discrepancies at the crime scenes. Some of the sketches looked vastly different from Berkowitz, as did some of the witnesses’ descriptions. The heights were off, the weights were off, the hair colors were off, the faces were off. Not just by a little bit. It was obvious there were totally different people. Berkowitz was spotted on the night of one of the murders several blocks away when the shooting happened. Terry knew there had to be more.
Terry was not only able to identify the other members at the crime scenes, he was also able to track them down and link them to other murders and criminal activity that happened in other parts of the country and even the world. He discovered that Berkowitz was part of a satanic cult whose main purpose was to spread chaos. It was based on the same church ideology on which Charles Manson’s cult was established. He traveled to North Dakota to track down more evidence. He wrote a book explaining every last detail he uncovered. He went on every TV show that would let him. He got the district attorney of Queens to reopen the case. A special task force in Yonkers was dedicated to corroborating Terry’s story. And when that team came back to the NYPD and told them that Terry’s story checked out, they did nothing. Some of the detectives openly mocked Terry to the press, claiming that he is a lunatic who came up with a crazy story. But why were they so hellbent on quieting Terry?
Terry’s story had legitimacy. It had facts. It was backed up by professionals. So his “theory” was more than just a conspiracy. And yet, the NYPD asserted that they are right and he is wrong nanny nanny boo boo. But if Terry is right, which it seems like he is, then what does that say about the police? The only reason I can think of is the wafer-thin fragility of the male ego. It’s the same reason why The Night Stalker was able to victimize the streets of LA for so long. And the same reason why Gabriel Fernández suffered at the hands of his abusive parents. And why many unknown cases go unsolved. The cops did not want to admit fault, and they definitely didn’t want someone else’s input. After parading around as superheroes, of course the police didn’t want to admit that there was more than one person to fear. They would lose the mirage that they have built that they are able to keep the entire city safe like some sort of league of legends.
But is that really it? It is hard to believe that it’s out of sheer stubbornness that they wouldn’t even hear Terry out. There’s not enough evidence to suggest that there was something else fishy going on, but it is quite fascinating to think about why the people who are supposed to be searching for truth and justice would be so quick to try to shut down something that could potentially save lives. Such irony that a potential conspiracy is being covered up by calling another set of facts a conspiracy.