When the phone rang well after midnight at Stan Wolfson’s Northport home on Aug. 11, 1977, he already knew who it was.
“It was [former Newsday photo editor] Tom Maguire,” Wolfson, a former Newsday photographer, said. “He asked if he had woken me and I said, ‘No, I’ve been waiting all night for your call.’ ”
Maguire was known for his late night calls, prompting the sarcastic response from Wolfson. But Maguire had a good reason to ring: Police had just arrested a serial killer after a yearlong manhunt.
Wolfson got off the phone, jumped in the car and hours later, snapped the photo that would come to define Newsday’s coverage of one of the wildest stories to rock the metropolitan area, the Son of Sam case.
Wolfson captured a close-up photo of David Berkowitz, 24, a postal worker who killed six people and wounded seven in eight attacks across New York City, in handcuffs as NYPD officers escorted him inside the 84th Precinct in Brooklyn.
The photo ran on Newsday’s Aug. 11 cover and accompanied a story marking the end of a series of shootings that had terrorized the city for more than a year.
Wolfson, now 75, doesn’t recall just how early it was when he arrived in Brooklyn, but he remembers the sun started to come up while he was there. The precinct was packed with journalists, photographers and cameramen.
“It was a zoo,” he said.
No one was paying much attention to the front desk, however, and Wolfson knew he needed to get the shot. He casually strolled away from the crowd and behind the desk into the station, he said. No one seemed to question him, so he set up and got ready for the moment police walked by with Berkowitz.
Wolfson got two shots, a headshot-style photo and the shot that ran on the cover.
“I knew what I was doing,” Wolfson said.
Berkowitz would ultimately be sentenced to six consecutive terms of 25 years to life.
“Everybody in the city was on edge because of the crimes,” Wolfson said. “It was a great relief to all when they arrested what they thought was the suspect.”