The year was 1977 and the president was Jimmy Carter. America was experiencing hard economic times. Inflation was hovering around 6.6% and moving higher by the month. People were having a hard time just paying their rent and groceries. No one was buying new houses because the interest rate was at an all-time high of 37.8% Of course, no one could afford that, so new homes weren’t being built.
A big storm was gathering in New York City
As time went on, people became more and more anxious about the economy. It was a hot July night in New York City when a very large storm rolled in. At 9:21 PM multiple lightning strikes crippled the power grid. The lights flickered a few times, then went out completely. The storm moved in fast, and moved out fast, leaving the streets wet and the skyline dark. A few buildings had emergency generators, but most of the city was wrapped in total darkness.
By 9:40 PM, the power company was overwhelmed and couldn’t catch up to the demand. Many of their power lines had been hit by lightning and were down for the count. All five boroughs were in darkness. The phone system was down and 911 calls went unanswered.
This was a green light to every criminal, thug, crook, and rapiest in the city. Within just a few minutes, screams could be heard as people were being victimized, raped, and murdered within the darkened apartment buildings.
Crime peaked at an all-time high in several Harlem, Brooklyn, and the South Bronx areas. No one could even call for help because of the blackout.
This event was documented in Times Magazine and dubbed as "The night of Terror"
It was a night of terror, and the lights stayed out all night long in many areas. When you have more than 10 million people living in such a small area with the power down, there’s bound to be trouble. In fact, there were tens of thousands of people who started looting and setting fires Keep in mind, this was before cell phones, so all communication was down. The police were not coming. If you were a law-abiding citizen, well, good luck, because you were on your own.
There was no law and order. Criminals knew they could get away with just about anything, and they did. The city was already being terrorized by the Son of Sam” killer who was still on the loose.
Fire and Looting
Looting and vandalism were widespread in New York City, hitting 31 different neighborhoods. Possibly the hardest hit was Crown Heights, where 75 stores on a five-block stretch were looted and damaged. In Bushwick arson was rampant, with some 25 fires still burning the next morning.
At one point, two blocks of Broadway in Brooklyn, which separates Bushwick from Bedford-Stuyvesant, were on fire. Thirty-five blocks of Broadway were destroyed: 134 stores were looted, and 45 of them were also set ablaze.
Thieves stole 50 new Pontiacs from a Bronx car dealership. In Brooklyn, youths were seen backing up cars to stores, tying ropes around the stores’ grates, and using their cars to pull the grates away, then looting the stores.
There were 550 police officers injured in the mayhem, and 4,500 looters were arrested, which was a very small percentage of the number of crooks who never got caught.
The subway system became a prision of terror
Can you imagine what it must have been like to be riding deep underground in a New York Subway, and have the electric power grid go down? People had to walk off the trains in complete darkness and walk miles underground along the tracks to the next station.
Then once they found an opening to the street, they were greeted by screams of people being attacked and raped, multiple fires, and blocks of looting. They must have thought they had died and gone to hell.
It was reported that many people were too scared to disembark the subway trains and simply sat in total darkness underground for the entire night.
Hospitals were overwhelmed
Emergency rooms all over the city were receiving up to six times more patients because of accidents, muggings, and rape victims. They barely had enough electric power from their generators to keep the light on. Severe cases requiring emergency surgery would just have to wait.
Doctors who were off-duty were returning to the hospital after their shifts because they knew there were going to be problems.
The fire department was so busy that many of the calls went unanswered.
There were more than 1500 fire alarms going off. Hundreds of buildings were on fire, complete blocks were burning. I find it ironic that people who complain that their neighborhoods are slums are the first to loot and burn it to the ground when given a chance.
New York City is no stranger to riots
The New York Draft Riots occurred in July 1863, when the anger of working-class New Yorkers over a new federal draft law during the Civil War sparked five days of some of the bloodiest and most destructive rioting in U.S. history.
Many people were thrown into the rivers to drown. On the fourth day, Union troops returning from the Battle of Gettysburg came into the city and stopped the rioting. It is estimated that about four hundred people were killed.
Why were people so upset? Because the draft was considered an attack on individual liberty and freedom. It was so ironic that people fighting to rid society of slavery wanted to draft people into the war by force, in other words, enslave the citizens to fight a war.
So what was the outcome of the civil war for New York? A total of 400,000 men were sent into war and 22,000 died from combat wounds. Another 30,000 died from disease or accidents, and 36 were executed.
New York Serial Killers
Joel David Rifkin was born on Jan 20, 1959. He was killing women from 1989 thru 1993. In all, he killed 17 women, some of them were never found. He had a habit of cutting them up into pieces and spreading them all over New York, including some of the rivers. Rifkin had problems in school and was considered anti-social.
Rifkin’s first brush with the law happened in 1987 when he offered money for sex to an undercover female police officer. Two years later he started his killing rampage.
His first victim was Heidi Balch who was 25 at the time. After killing her, we severed her head and put it into a paint bucket, and left it on a gold course. He then cut her into several pieces and dropped her off into the East River.
Rifkin was finally caught on June 28. 1993 when a state trooper noticed a truck without a license plate. The truck was pulled over and it was Rifkin. He had the body of his latest victim under a tarp in the back of the truck. He was given 203 years in prison and is still alive at the Clinton Correctional Facility.
David Berkowitz - Son of Sam
David Berkowitz, A.K.A. Son of Sam. David was born in 1953 and his real name is Richard David Falco. This is one of the most well-known serial killers in the world because of the terror he caused. He would send letters to the police mocking them because they couldn’t catch him.
All in all, he ended up killing 6 people and wounding 7 others, most of them he shot using a 44 special caliber bulldog revolver. In addition to the killings, David was suspected of several arson cases throughout the city.
David claimed that he received messages from a neighbor’s dog that he shot. The dog’s owner was named Sam. Berkowitz was finally caught after his car was ticketed for illegal parking. The car matched the description that had been given before, plus the car was very close to the last murder attempt.
He was finally arrested on August 10, 1977. Police found and investigated Berkowitz’s car, which was parked outside his apartment building at 35 Pine Street, Yonkers. They saw a gun in the back seat, searched the car, and found a duffel bag filled with ammunition, maps of the crime scenes, and a threatening letter addressed to Inspector Timothy Dowd of the Son of Sam task force.
Police decided to wait for Berkowitz to leave the apartment rather than risk a violent confrontation in the building’s narrow hallway; they also waited to obtain a search warrant for the apartment, worried that their search might be challenged in court. The initial search of the vehicle was based on the handgun that was visible in the back seat, although possession of such a gun was legal in New York State and required no special permit. The warrant still had not arrived when Berkowitz exited the apartment building at about 10:00 p.m. and entered his car. Detective John Falotico approached the driver’s side of the car and pointed his gun close to Berkowitz’s temple, while Detective Sgt. William Gardella pointed his gun from the passenger’s side.
A paper bag containing a .44 caliber Bulldog revolver of the type that was identified in ballistics tests was found next to Berkowitz in the car. Berkowitz then stated flatly, “Well, you got me.”
The New York Zodiac
Heriberto Seda; was born in 1967 and idolized Ted Bundy and the San Francisco Zodiac Killer, who was never caught. Heriberto was a loner, never dated, and never held a job. He would steal money from pay phones and vending machines by plugging up the change slots with paper, then returning later to pull the paper out and collect the coins stuck inside.
He would spend most of his time reading crime magazines and gun magazines. He studied the San Francisco Zodiac killer and decided to copy his style of killing random people and leaving notes for the police.
Since the original Zodiac killer was never caught, Heriberto got the idea of pretending to be the original Zodiac killer and that he had moved from San Francisco to New York City.
The police analyzed Heriberto’s handwritten notes and determined that he was not the original Zodiac killer.
He was finally caught when he shot one of his family members after a disagreement. The police noticed how he signed his confession letter with the three sevens and a zodiac symbol. They matched up the handwritten letters that were received during his murder spree.
He was convicted and sent to prison for life in 1998.
Ironically, he now spends his time in prison reading the bible and reciting scriptures to other inmates. Too bad he didn’t take his advice about “Thou Shalt Not Kill.”