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Sons of Sam: Who Were “The Children”?

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Based on the work of journalist Maury Terry, Netflix The Sons of Sam: A Descent into Darkness looks beyond David Berkowitz to the gun killings that occurred in New York City from 1976 to 1977. According to the title, Terry’s theory was that there wasn’t just one son of Sam, but several. Ultimately, Terry believed that the so-called Sons of Sam could be traced back to a cult called The Children associated with the likes of Scientology and Charles Manson’s family. But how did this connection come about? Here’s what you need to know.

When Terry went to Berkowitz to check it out, he linked him up with John and Michael Carr, brothers who were literally the sons of a man named Sam. The journalist firmly believed these brothers were involved in the Sons of Sam murders and further investigated their previous connections. He found that the siblings were connected to the Church of Scientology in their past. A deep dive into Scientology revealed a branch of a group called The Process Church of the Final Judgment. Robert and Mary Ann de Grimston studied as Scientology auditors and met in the 1960s at the L. Ron Hubbard Institute for Scientology in London. After their Scientology experience, the duo wanted something more extreme and started The Process, which initially looked at psychotherapy technology.

The de Grimstons went to Mexico when a devastating hurricane erupted in 1966. Believing that they should bring good and bad together, they turned to the end of the world to pave the way for a new way of life. The process church set up camp everywhere (including the United States) and participated in dark rituals of wearing black cloaks and sacrificing German shepherds. They were even linked to cult leader Charles Manson when they spread to California, and some believe that Manson learned everything he knew about The Process. in the The familyAuthor Ed Sanders initially suggested that Manson belong to a trial chapter, though he later withdrew that claim when the Church sued him.

The process church went underground in 1974 and began to split up into smaller groups. A cult called Children popped up north of New York City. The process church has since denied any connection with the Son of Sam case. Terry suspected, however, that Berkowitz may have played a role similar to that for the children that Manson played for the family. Both groups had bizarre family names and also incorporated occult practices into their rituals. In a letter to Terry, Berkowitz also admitted that he was part of a larger group that committed the Son of Sam murders. While many have been skeptical of Terry over the years, his extensive evidence, despite being marked by many rabbit holes, may convince you that Berkowitz wasn’t the only perpetrator of the terror that started in the 1970s.

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Robert Dunfee