Who is John Carr? And what is the Carr family’s connection to The Son of Sam?
Netflix documentary The Sons of Sam looks into whether David Berkowitz's neighbour John Carr may also have been involved in his crimes.
Netflix’s true crime documentary series The Sons of Sam re-examines a series of shootings that took place in New York in 1976 and 1977.
David Berkowitz – who called himself ‘The Son of Sam’ in letters to the press and police – was convicted of the eight random shootings that killed six and injured a further seven people, but many people – including author Maury Terry, whose investigations are the focus of The Sons of Sam – believe he did not act alone.
Berkowitz himself has claimed that he was part of a group of satanists, and according to NBC journalist John Hockenberry, he told Terry in 1997 that the group were “working with Satan to try to bring a lot of chaos”.
Berkowitz has named two possible co-shooters in connection with his crimes, brothers John and Michael Carr, and Terry investigated his claims in great depth. Episode two of The Sons of Sam picks up on his conclusions.
Who is John Carr?
In Berkowitz’s first letter to journalist Jimmy Breslin, received in May 1977, he mentioned the name ‘John Wheaties’. Maury Terry told journalist John Hockenberry: “John Carr’s nickname was Wheaties,” and a phone book entry from the time lists a John Wheat Carr at an address around the corner from where Berkowitz lived.
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John Carr had actually attended the same high school as Maury Terry. According to his notes, Terry was convinced that Berkowitz didn’t match witness descriptions at the Son of Sam shooting of Robert Violante and Stacy Moskowitz on July 31st 1977, but that Carr instead resembled the sketch of the shooter. Terry went on to investigate Carr and his younger brother Michael for the crime, believing they had carried out the shootings while Berkowitz acted as look out.
The Carr brothers lived with their father, Sam, and neighbours knew that he was a strict disciplinarian who would sometimes lock his sons up as punishment. Terry drew parallels with Berkowitz’s Son of Sam letter, in which he wrote: “Papa Sam keeps me locked in the attic. He beats his family. And of course, I am the Son of Sam.”
“Neighbours recounted a number of disturbing stories that only fuelled my suspicions,” Terry said about the family. He told the police about his suspicions but Carr was never interviewed or arrested.
What happened to John Carr?
While Maury Terry was investigating him, John Carr was found dead far from his New York home, in Minot, North Dakota, on February 17th, 1978 from what was described by reporter Michael Zuckerman in The Sons of Sam documentary as a ‘questionable shooting suicide’.
His younger brother Michael, meanwhile, died in a car accident on Manhattan’s West Side Highway in October 1979.
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What is the Carr family’s connection to The Son of Sam David Berkowitz?
When Berkowitz was interviewed by psychiatrists – as shown in the second episode of The Sons of Sam – he claimed he had been told to commit the crimes by someone named Sam.
“Sam did it through me. He used me. He made me go out there and do it. I did it for him. For blood.” Berkowitz initially said he had been guided by a dog that spoke the words of someone named Sam, and people wondered whether he was referring to Sam Carr and the family dog, named Harvey.
In later interviews Berkowitz said his ‘demon dog’ confessions were a hoax, but continued to hint that he was involved with a group of satanists that may have included the Carr brothers.
What happened to Sam Carr’s dog?
In the days leading up to Berkowitz’s arrest, detective James Justus talked to Wheat Carr, the sister of John and Michael. She told Justus that Berkowitz had shot their black Labrador, Harvey, who belonged to her father, Sam, possibly because it was barking.
The family had reportedly received a letter in April 1977, perhaps from Berkowitz, that said: “I have asked you kindly to stop that dog from howling all day long, yet he continues to do so… My life is destroyed now. I have nothing to lose anymore. I can see that there shall be no peace in my life, or my families life until I end yours.”
Days later Harvey, the Carr family dog, was shot by an unknown gunman, but he survived.
The Sons of Sam is available to stream on Netflix now. Check out our lists of the best series on Netflix and the best movies on Netflix, or see what else is on with our TV Guide. Also visit our dedicated Documentaries hub for more news.