Stumbling in the direction of a solution


Inspector Timothy Dowd, right, at work in July 1977, told reporters that his job as the leader of the special task force hunting the Son of Sam serial killer was “to prepare to be lucky.” Credit Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

NY Times obituary of Timothy Dowd, the detective in charge of finding Son Of Sam:

Ms. Begg said in an in­ter­view on Mon­day that her fa­ther had dis­dained tele­vi­sion dra­mas about the po­lice be­cause they were un­re­al­is­tic about po­lice work — all ex­cept one, she said: “Colum­bo.” That se­ries, es­pe­cial­ly pop­u­lar in the 1970s, starred Pe­ter Falk as an un­tidy, seem­ing­ly dis­tract­ed de­tec­tive in Los An­ge­les who solved cas­es by pok­ing around in a prac­ticed but ran­dom fash­ion and stum­bling in the di­rec­tion of a so­lu­tion.

“That’s how it’s done,” she said her fa­ther ex­plained to her.

In the biggest case of his ca­reer, when he fi­nal­ly came face to face with the killer, In­spec­tor Dowd said he knew he would be able to dis­cuss the crimes with him.

“I told him we had nev­er abused him or crit­i­cized him in the press, and he agreed,” In­spec­tor Dowd said at the time.

And Mr. Berkowitz’s first words to him?

“In­spec­tor, you fi­nal­ly got me. I guess this is the end of the trail.”

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