BTK and The Son of Sam
In the darkness of a parking garage in Wichita, Kansas Bill Tench and Detective Drowatzky, a local detective that hopes Bill is the missing piece to catching a killer, find themselves sitting in Drowatzky’s truck listening to one of the only survivors of BTK’s horrors. The young man, Kevin, tells the heartbreaking story of being shot in the face and having to “play dead” as he listened to his sister’s murder. Anger, pain, sadness, all of it overpowers the scene blanketing it with a sense of dread. Bill has already been briefed on what BTK did to the Otero family and we as the audience have seen first hand what he’s capable of, but hearing this heartwrenching story is a powerful reminder of what happens after these monsters commit their acts of violence. The bullet wounds in Kevin’s face aren’t just physical scars, they’re life long reminders of what happened that day.
And while BTK is a monster that only gets better at creating nightmares as he continues killing, we’re given a reminder at the beginning of the episode that he’s just a sad pathetic man. After getting caught by his wife pleasing himself in women’s clothing, we find Dennis Radar, President of his local church council, being forced to sleep on the couch. Before going to bed herself, Dennis’ wife is nice enough to bring him some late-night reading material, a stack of books about dealing with “sexual deviances.”
Following everything with BTK and a rather peculiar scene with Bill coming home to discover the back door was open, we see Holden and Bill continuing to discuss the case, trying to use their previous cases to find connections. It’s by doing this that they start to realize that BTK might be a copycat killer to David Berkowitz, The Son of Sam.
Perhaps the Sigourney Weaver classic Copycat is to blame, but I was always under the impression that a copycat killer literally copied the actions of another killer, but with a little research I learned that a copycat killer can simply be inspired by a killer or even a movie and take smaller parts from previous crimes for their own horrible actions. For instance, with BTK, Holden and Bill discuss how the killer writes letters to the newspaper like The Zodiac and Berkowitz and even mentions known killers like Ted Bundy in the letters. The key moment in the agents’ discussion is when they take notice of BTK’s symbol. There’s no doubt that it was inspired by the symbol used by Son of Sam. To the dismay of Doctor Carr, who just wants to interview a couple of killers in Georgia, Holden and Bill are on their way to Attica, New York to talk to the man once known as the .44 Caliber Killer.
Though the concern of Holden having another panic attack is high, at least for Doctor Carr, the biggest conflict of episode one seems to have gone away, for now. Though to be fair, I don’t exactly think David Berkowitz is the kind of person that’s smart enough to cause Holden to lose his cool. Berkowitz’s opening lines tell us everything there is to know about him as he questions why the F.B.I didn’t come to see him sooner considering the Mayor visited him the night he was arrested. This is a man who thinks he’s more special than he truly is and to get him to talk, both agents, even Bill who doesn’t typically coddle a killer’s ego plays the game, referring to Berkowitz as an artist. It’s by doing this that the two agents can get whatever they want. David becomes so comfortable with everything he even starts telling the truth about what he claimed to be the reasons for the killings. There was no talking dog, no demons in the wall, just a guy who fantasized about killing and needed to come up with a reason that would make him seem special.
I think the funniest part of the entire scene and it’s the moment that the show, at least if you know how Berkowitz was caught, really puts the final nail in his myth. David tells Holden and Bill, “I was cunning. I studied maps, escape routes, carried my gun, roll of quarters for parking, you never know when it might come together.” Well, ultimately what lead to the capture of Son of Sam was that this idiot drove his car with registered plates to the places he would kill and forgot to pay the meter. The police were able to connect Berkowitz to the killings because he got a parking ticket in a part of the city he would have no business being in unless he was there killing the two innocent people that died on that night.
Just like Kemper in season one who thought he was so smart because he “watched all the cop shows” when in reality was guilty of pulling every red flag move that screams, “I kill people for fun,” like hanging around the police, always talking about the murders, and the list goes on, Berkowitz is just another guy that was only successful at getting away with his crimes because the technology and knowledge on how to catch guys like this just didn’t exist. Berkowitz didn’t even wear a mask. At least with someone like Ed Kemper or BTK, they attempted to kill all possible witnesses, but Berkowitz just walked around New York City thinking he’ll never be caught because he read a map.
Once back at Quantico though, we learn that while the interview was helpful in some areas, when it comes to BTK, everyone still thinks they’re looking for someone that fits the classic profile: no real relationships, especially when it comes to women, and barely a job to speak of. When it comes to Dennis Radar, as I said earlier, he as the President of his church council, we know that he has a wife, and before people realized that he was the BTK killer, fans of the show referred to him as the ADT Killer because he worked for the security company. Everything the team has to work with is pointing them in one direction and sadly, Rader is going in the complete opposite direction.
Following this, the episode ends on a surprising twist. A Detective Spencer knocks on Bill’s door looking for his wife. He’s there to inform her of a murder that’s occurred in a home that she was trying to sell. Though what happened exactly is unknown, the detective is shaken and looks like he might collapse at any moment because of what awaited him at the crime scene. The conversation with the detective is brief but there is an interesting moment in the conversation where Spencer asks Bill’s wife if she could have possibly left a door open at the house in which she responds by telling him she’s always “so careful,” but if we go back to the beginning of the episode when Bill discovers the open back door, his wife does take blame.
I’m in no way prepared to start my own personal investigation on who could be involved in this murder, but the back door being open in Bill’s house just a few days before there’s a murder in the house that his wife is trying to sell is a very big coincidence. Yes, Nancy did take the blame for the door in her own house being left open but she was half asleep and when all you want to do is go back to bed, you’ll admit to anything if it means the person waking you up will leave you alone. Now, I’m not suggesting that the person that committed this murder also broke into Bill’s house, but… it can’t be ruled out. The conversation with Bill and Detective Spencer ends with the detective asking Bill for Nancy’s shoes so that she can be ruled out as a suspect in which Bill asks if he can bring that stuff by tomorrow. In other words, Bill is heading to the crime scene in the morning and it’s then that we’ll have more of an idea as to just what’s going on and if I’ll need to be putting my detective hat on.