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Sons Of Sam: The Chilling Story Behind The Murder of Arlis Perry

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Sons Of Sam: The Chilling Story Behind The Murder of Arlis Perry

*This article contains spoilers for The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness*

Ever since The Sons of Sam dropped on Netflix earlier this month, viewers have been gripped to the true crime series.

The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness delves into the crimes of serial killer and arsonist David Berkowitz, who murdered six people in 1977.

The doc also explores a number of cases that were linked to a satanic cult linked to Berkowitz at the time, including the devastating murder of Arlis Perry - who was killed in 1974.

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So who was Arlis? And what actually happened?

Arlis was tragically murdered in 1974 (Credit: Santa Clara County Sheriff Office)
Arlis was tragically murdered in 1974 (Credit: Santa Clara County Sheriff Office)

Arlis was a 19-year-old newlywed who had recently moved to the Stanford University campus with her husband, Bruce Perry.

The night she was killed, she had visited the Stanford Memorial Church to pray. It is believed Arlis and Bruce had been in an argument that evening, with Arlis heading to the church to cool off.

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Tragically, the next morning, on 13th October 1974, Arlis' body was discovered - she had been brutally murdered and was reportedly naked from the waist down.

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It is reported she was found with an ice pick in her skull and a candle between her breasts. It was also reported she had been sexually assaulted with an altar candle.

At the time, police investigated a security guard - Stephen Crawford - who is believed to have discovered Arlis' body, but the case remained unsolved for over four decades.

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Many believed Arlis' death was linked to a 'satanic cult'. This was enforced more when Berkowitz sent deputy sheriff Lieutenant Terry Gardner a package, including a copy of The Anatomy of Witchcraft from jail, which included the message: "Arlis Perry, hunted, stalked, and slain. Followed to California. Stanford Univ."

Police investigated security guard Stephen Crawford (Credit: Santa Clara County Sheriff Office)
Police investigated security guard Stephen Crawford (Credit: Santa Clara County Sheriff Office)

Berkowitz never revealed who murdered Arlis, but as viewers of the doc will know, 40 years on from the heinous crime, Crawford's DNA was linked to the murder.

The docu-series ends showing body-cam footage from officers attempting to arrest the 72-year-old, who shot himself in the head before he could be brought to justice. His involvement has now led some to believe he was also involved in the cult after a copy of Maury Terry's book The Ultimate Evil - which investigates the Sons of Sams murders - was found in Crawford's home.

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Berkowitz never revealed who murdered Arlis (Credit: Crime Museum)
Berkowitz never revealed who murdered Arlis (Credit: Crime Museum)

Speaking about discovering Arlis' killer at the time, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith said: "It's been frustrating through the years that we could never get enough evidence to charge the suspect.

"It's difficult for her family and it's difficult for our department, but we finally have closure on this case."

Meanwhile, Arlis' mother, Jean Dykema told The Mercury News of her distress that Arlis' father would never know who took his daughter's life.

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"It's been horrible and my husband wanted to know so badly and he died three months ago," she said at the time.

You can watch The Sons of Sam on Netflix now.

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

Topics: True Crime, TV and Film, Netflix

Lucy Devine
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