Detective Who Hunted Down 'Son of Sam' Dead at 99

Timothy Dowd also on NYPD team that broke apart 'French Connection' drug ring
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2014 7:49 AM CST
Detective Who Hunted Down 'Son of Sam' Dead at 99
In this Aug. 11, 1977, file photo, David Berkowitz, center, is taken into police headquarters by NYPD Detective Ed Zigo, right.   (AP Photo/Hal Goldenberg, File)

Almost 40 years ago, "Son of Sam" killer David Berkowitz terrorized New York City—until he was brought down by the investigative work of the NYPD's "Operation Omega" team and a simple parking ticket. Timothy J. Dowd, the detective who led that task force, died Friday in upstate New York at the age of 99, daughter Melissa Dowd Begg confirms to the New York Times. Dowd, who was born in Ireland and joined the NYPD in 1940, also worked with the team that brought down the "French Connection" international drug ring, the New York Post reports. "He was always a very driven person," Begg tells the New York Daily News. "He would leave no stone unturned, and he would not allow anyone who worked for him to leave a stone unturned … they followed every lead relentlessly."

That relentlessness paid off after a year of searching for the Son of Sam, who began his killing spree in July 1976. With no obvious motive and only small similarities among the murders, Dowd had told reporters that he just had "to prepare to be lucky," the Times notes. That luck appeared via Berkowitz's Ford Galaxy, which had been ticketed for being illegally parked in front of a fire hydrant—police checking out cars near the most recent shooting saw a gun in the seat, which led to 24-year-old Berkowitz's arrest in Yonkers. When Dowd finally confronted his quarry, Berkowitz greeted him thusly: "Inspector, you finally got me. I guess this is the end of the trail." (Berkowitz, meanwhile, has found God in prison and won't seek parole.)

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