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Son of Sam survivor breaks her silence after 40 years Nineteen-year-old nursing student Jody Valenti had just spent a night dancing at a disco in New Rochelle with her friend Donna Lauria, 18, when, back in The Bronx, their car suddenly exploded with gunfire. Donna, in training to be a New York City medic, was killed instantly ? shot once in the back ? and Jody took a bullet in the left thigh and was in agonizing pain and shock. It was shortly after 1 a.m. on July 29, 1976. Son of Sam?s murder spree had begun. Valenti was just 19 years old when she was shot by the Son of Sam.Photo: New York Post With this month?s coming 40th anniversary of the start of David Berkowitz?s reign of terror over New York City, Valenti, now 59, has broken her four-decade silence for the first time in an interview with The Post. ?It took probably about six years of my life to be able to get in a car at night,? she says, her voice strong and confident. ?It took a long time to be able to deal with the sounds of popping fireworks and stuff like that . . . But I faced my fears.? The mass shootings from Newtown, Conn., to Dallas profoundly impacted her and prompted her to face her biggest fear of all: guns. ?Just recently I took a gun class,? she reveals. ?I went and learned how to shoot a gun. It?s my own fear that I faced. I did it myself. I did it to face my fear of a gun, my fear of holding a gun . . . my fear of the sound of a gun ? fear, fear, fear.? But, with gun violence rampant across the nation, she now faces deeply emotional questions as the anniversary of Berkowitz?s attack on her with a .44-caliber revolver nears. ?Would I purchase a gun? Would I use a gun?? she has asked herself. ?I do have the application for a gun permit, but I don?t know [if I?ll get a gun].? It was a Thursday night. The two attractive, dolled-up young women were going to a local dance club. ?Disco was a big to-do back then,? Valenti recalls. ?Everybody was going to clubs at night and dancing, and no one was afraid to go anywhere.? The New York City boroughs had become disco central. John Travolta, playing Brooklyn dance king Tony Manero, starred in the signature film of the era, ?Saturday Night Fever.? Jody had just driven Donna back and they were sitting in her double-parked, two-door, blue Oldsmobile Cutlass with the windows closed in front of the Lauria family?s six-story apartment building at 2860 Buhre Ave., not far from where Valenti lived at 1918 Hutchinson River Parkway. Donna LauriaPhoto: New York Post pre bonded hairOutside the building, they had run into Lauria?s parents, who were also just getting home after an evening out, and they exchanged pleasantries. They chided Donna about getting in soon, and asked Jody to come up, but she declined, and the Laurias went inside. Before calling it a night, the girls chatted about the summer and how they were going to spend it. ?We were neighborhood buddies,? says Jody. ?We both had the same interests in health care.? Jody was in nursing school and Donna was studying to be an EMT. Lauria was shot and killed on this street corner in The Bronx by the Son of Sam in 1976.Photo: New York Post They had been talking for about 15 minutes when out of nowhere a hulking man in a striped shirt came to within eight feet of the car. Donna turned to Jody to ask if she knew who he was. She didn?t have a chance to answer. He fired four shots through the closed right window. Donna was killed instantly. Jody later gave police a description of the killer ? about 30, white, with curly hair ? someone she had never seen in her life. Years later, a fellow prisoner would ask Berkowitz how he happened to first target Jody and Donna. ?I just pulled by them,? he answered. ?I parked around the corner and came out and did it.? The shooting of the two women in the Westchester Heights section of The Bronx initially appeared to police to be random, the kind of off-the-wall violence that was part of the dark side of a declining New York City in the 1970s, and it earned little attention in the press. On Oct. 23, 1976, the mysterious shooter struck for the second time. The victim was 20-year-old Carl Denaro of Queens. He had long hair and was believed by the shooter to be a girl. He was shot once in the head as he was sitting in his red VW in Queens with his girlfriend, Rosemary Keenan, 18, who was not hit. He survived but required a metal plate in his head. Then came Thanksgiving weekend. The shooter fired on Donna DeMasi, 16, and her 18-year-old friend, Joanne Lomino, as they walked home from a movie in Queens. Lomino was left paralyzed but her friend recovered. Son of Sam victim Donna DiMasiPhoto: New York Post

The new year would bring more carnage. Christine Freund, 26, and John Diel, 30 ? a newly engaged couple ? were sitting in his Pontiac Firebird in front of the Forest Hills Inn in Queens on Jan. 30 when the phantom shooter fired through the window and killed her. Her fianc survived. But cops had their first clue. The bullet that ended Freund?s life had been fired from a .44-caliber Charter Arms Bulldog revolver. Valenti and Lauria, and the others, had also been hit with large-caliber bullets. The shootings were all connected, the work of a single, bloodthirsty serial killer. The press dubbed him ?The .44-Caliber Killer.? On March 8, 1977, Virginia Voskerichian, a 21-year-old college student, was walking on a Queens street when the gunman killed her instantly. Virginia VoskerichianPhoto: New York Post Despite the banner headlines that the cops were closing in, the killer struck again, and again. Not far from where DeMasi and Lomino were hit in The Bronx, Valentina Suriani, 18, and Alexander Esau, 20, were shot dead on April 17, 1977. On June 26, 1977, 17-year-old Judy Placido, of The Bronx, and Sal Lupo had gone to a Bayside, Queens, disco ? and afterward sat in Lupo?s car. It was just after 3 a.m. when the shots rang out. She was struck in the right temple, right shoulder and back of the neck, and he was shot in the right forearm. Incredibly, they both survived. Then, on July 30, 1977, virtually the first anniversary of the Valenti-Lauria attack, Berkowitz murdered again. While cops had a dragnet in The Bronx and Queens killing fields, Berkowitz crossed over to Brooklyn for the first time and shot 20-year-old Stacy Moskowitz and her boyfriend, Robert Violante, 20, in their heads. She died, but he, blinded, survived. ?It was,? Valenti recalls, ?a terrible time. The whole city was terrorized, from the Hamptons to Queens, all the boroughs.? Berkowitz?s victims appeared to be young women with dark hair, and couples sitting in parked cars. As the death toll mounted, women began buying blond and red wigs to protect themselves from the monster. The once-jammed discos saw business tail off. Couples on dates rushed to get home early. Lovers? lanes were deserted. New York was scared. remy hair extensionsBerkowitz began sending bizarre letters to the press, goading the cops to find him. He asked columnist Jimmy Breslin how he planned to commemorate Jody and Donna?s shooting: ?What will you have for July 29?? His most terrifying missive opened with this greeting: ?Hello from the gutters of NYC, which are filled with dog manure, vomit, stale wine, urine and blood . . . Sam?s a thirsty lad and he won?t let me stop killing until he gets his fill of blood.? One of the letters Berkowitz sent to Post reporter Steve Dunleavy.Photo: New York Post As it turned out, Sam was derived from Berkowitz?s neighbor, Sam Carr. His dog?s bark kept Berkowitz up at night and, in the killer?s twisted mind, conveyed demonic messages to him. Berkowitz eventually shot the dog to death. The 25-year-old postal worker, over the course of a year, killed six and wounded seven. He was finally arrested on Aug. 10, 1977 ? on a fluke. A traffic ticket was left on the windshield of Berkowitz?s yellow Ford Galaxy after he parked too close to a fire hydrant on the night of the Moskowitz murder. Just before the shooting, a woman who lived near the scene saw a man remove the ticket. Cops traced the summons to a registered address in Yonkers. Police staked out the car and when Berkowitz left his apartment building, the cops moved in. Asked to identify himself, he had a dumb smile on his face and responded, ?I am Sam. David Berkowitz.? He also said, ?What took you so long?? In the car were the .44-caliber pistol, a rifle and maps of the crime scenes. He was convicted of second-degree murder in June 1978 and received sentences for each murder. He will almost certainly die in prison. David Berkowitz in prison in 2009Photo: AP Looking back, Valenti said, ? I feel bad for all those people that lost their lives. I feel bad for my friend. At this point, she would have been my age and having a family of her own, and children and maybe grandchildren.? Today, with all the gun violence, she sees ?the need for care for people with mental illness because I think that?s what?s lacking here . . . the person who?s holding the gun who has a mental illness. Just think about that Sandy Hook situation. It was horror. I was horrified. ?I have a lot of thoughts and I have a lot of feelings about what?s going on in this country right now ? the terrifying issues with handguns and who?s having handguns. Look what?s happening with the police ? it?s just getting out of control, and I?m conservative. I?m not a left-winger.? Valenti is mystified that a story would be written about the crazed killer 40 years later. ?What are we celebrating? The lunatic that?s in prison for life who?s getting benefits. He?s getting three square meals. He?s getting an education. He?s getting everything he needs, and I find it very disturbing.? Jerry Oppenheimer?s most recent book, ?Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and The Dark Side of the Dream,? will be released in paperback in September. He is currently completing his 13th biography, to be published next year. Recently, Berkowitz announced that he has found his life?s calling, and it?s shocking:

ISTANBUL ? The Turkish government accelerated its crackdown on alleged plotters of the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with the justice minister saying Sunday that 6,000 people had been detained in the investigation, including three of the country?s top generals and hundreds of soldiers. In addition to those mentioned by Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag, dozens of arrest warrants have been issued for judges and prosecutors deemed to be government opponents. The government has also dismissed nearly 3,000 judges and prosecutors from their posts, while investigators were preparing court cases to send the conspirators to trial on charges of attempting to overthrow the government. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan delivers a speech in Istanbul on Saturday.Photo: AP ?The cleansing (operation) is continuing. Some 6,000 detentions have taken place. The number could surpass 6,000,? Bozdag said in televised comments. The botched coup, which saw warplanes fly over key government installations and tanks roll up in major cities, ended hours later when loyal government forces regained control of the military and civilians took to the streets in support of Erdogan. Chanting, dancing and waving flags, tens of thousands of Turks marched through the streets into the early hours Sunday in half a dozen cities after officials urged them to defend democracy and back Erdogan, Turkey?s top politician for 13 years. It was an emotional display by Turks, who rallied in headscarves and long dresses, T-shirts and work boots, some walking hand-in-hand with their children. Rather than toppling him, the attempted coup that left some 265 dead and 1,440 wounded appears to have bolstered Erdogan?s popularity and grip on power. The Yeni Safak newspaper used the headline ?Traitors of the country,? while the Hurriyet newspaper declared ?Democracy?s victory.? perruques cheveux naturels?Just a small group from Turkish armed forces stood up against our government ? but we, the Turkish nation, stand together and repulse it back,? Gozde Kurt, a 16-year-old student at the rally in Istanbul, said Sunday morning. Gen. Umit Dunda said the dead included at least 104 conspirators, describing them as mainly officers from the Air Force, the military police and armored units. Turkish army tanks move in the main streets in the early morning hours of July 16 in Ankara, TurkeyPhoto: Getty Images Officials claimed the conspirators were loyal to moderate U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan has often accused of attempting to overthrow the government. Gulen, a staunch democracy advocate who lives in exile in Pennsylvania, is a former Erdogan ally turned bitter foe who has been put on trial in absentia in Turkey. He strongly denies the charges. Funeral ceremonies and prayers for those killed in the coup were held in Ankara and Istanbul on Sunday, where relatives beside themselves with grief. Prayers were read simultaneously from Turkey?s 85,000 mosques at noon to honor those who died in an attempted military coup. Sela prayers are traditionally recited from mosques during funerals, though they are also performed to rally people, as they were all night Friday during tense coup hours. A government official said autopsies have been completed on 165 people, including 115 reclaimed by their families. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. Forty policemen, including twin brothers, were killed when the renegade soldiers attacked a special forces station in Ankara.

The victims also included Erdogan campaign manager Erol Olcak and his 16-year old son Abdullah, killed when renegade soldiers opened fire on protesters at the Bosporus bridge in Istanbul on Friday night. Supporters of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wave flags as they capture a Turkish Army APC.Photo: Getty Images Photojournalist Mustafa Cambaz also took to the streets, following calls by the president for people to oppose the coup attempt. Cambaz, who worked for the pro-government Yeni Safak newspaper, was killed by gunfire in Istanbul. The elder brother of one of Erdogan?s chief advisers was also killed in gunfire while protesting the coup in front of the Istanbul Municipality building. Ilhan Varank died during clashes that lasted five hours. The wide reach of the government crackdown raised concerns over the future of democracy in Turkey, which has long prided itself on its democratic and secular traditions despite being in a tumultuous region swept by conflict and extremism. Erdogan?s survival has turned him into a ?sort of a mythical figure? and could further erode democracy in Turkey, said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish research program at The Washington Institute. ?It will allow him (Erdogan) to crack down on liberty and freedom of association, assembly, expression and media in ways that we haven?t seen before and find strong public support within the country,? he said. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the perpetrators of Friday?s failed coup ?will receive every punishment they deserve.? Security forces on Sunday rounded up 52 more military officers for alleged coup links. The state news agency Anadolu said a detention order has been issued for 110 judges and prosecutors in Istanbul alone for their alleged involvement with the group reportedly responsible for the failed coup. The suspects are being charged with ?membership in an armed terrorist organization? and ?attempting to overthrow the government of the Turkish Republic using force and violence or attempting to completely or partially hinder its function.? The agency said 58 homes of prosecutors and judges have been searched. perruques cheveuxTurkish solders patrol Taksim square as people protest against the military coup in Istanbul on July 16.Photo: Getty Images Officials say 2,745 judges and prosecutors across the country have been dismissed. The coup attempt began late Friday with tanks rolling into the streets of the capital, Ankara, and Istanbul as Erdogan was on vacation. Explosions and gunfire erupted throughout the night. It quickly became clear, however, that the military was not united in the effort to overthrow the government. In a dramatic iPhone interview broadcast on TV, Erdogan urged supporters into the streets to confront the troops and tanks, and forces loyal to the government began reasserting control. In an unusual show of unity, Turkey?s four main political parties released a joint declaration denouncing the coup attempt, as did Turkey?s NATO allies, including President Barack Obama. Before the weekend?s chaos, Turkey ? a NATO member and key Western ally in the fight against the Islamic State group ? had been wracked by political turmoil that critics blamed on Erdogan?s increasingly authoritarian rule. He has shaken up the government, cracked down on dissidents, restricted the news media and renewed fighting with Kurdish rebels. Erdogan called on the United States to extradite Gulen but at a news conference Saturday in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, Gulen strongly denied any role in or knowledge of the coup. ?As someone who suffered under multiple military coups during the past five decades, it is especially insulting to be accused of having any link to such an attempt,? he said. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would entertain an extradition request for Gulen, but Turkey would have to present ?legitimate evidence that withstands scrutiny.? Flights resumed late Saturday into Istanbul?s Ataturk Airport after being halted for nearly 24 hours but Turkish Airlines said Sunday it had to cancel 196 flights because of a backlog of traffic.

The best things in life are three?s! The world?s only surviving giant panda triplets, Mengmeng, Shuaishuai and Kuku were seen chowing down on bamboo at the Chimelong Safari Park in Guangzhou, China, after finally being weaned off milk. They will turn 3 years old on July 29. Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel?s trail of jihadist destruction belies a tranquil and secular background. His Tunisian hometown of M?saken is a relatively wealthy area, fueled by miles of hotels along glittering beaches. It has handsome cafes and wide boulevards, its prosperity underlined by a shiny Renault dealership on the main street. ?This is not a terrorist town. People here make money. We are not radical,? said Mejad, a local government official. ?People like to drink. They like to socialize.? His family initially couldn?t believe it was Bouhlel, 31, who carried out Thursday?s massacre in Nice and tried to call him afterward. lace front wigsBouhlel was troubled and violent as a child, but had shown no jihadi tendencies, said his father, Mohamed Monthir Lahouaiej Bouhlel. ?He had problems that led to a nervous breakdown,? the dad said. ?He would become angry and?break everything in front of him.? ?He was violent and very ill. We took him to the doctor, and he was put on drugs,? he said. Hints of a sudden turn to religious extremism began to emerge Saturday. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters the driver had been ?radicalized very quickly,? citing information from the five people taken into custody

The GOP kicks off its convention tomorrow in Cleveland, hoping that the recent rash of violence at home and abroad, and local security threats, don?t overshadow its nomination of Donald Trump for president. By the time 125,000 balloons fall on the Trump family Thursday night, America should ?have a better idea of who Donald Trump is as a person .?.?. [and] a better understanding of .?.?. what?s at stake with Hillary Clinton,? Sean Spicer, chief strategist for the Republican National Committee, told The Post. But looming over the gathering is the threat of distraction by the events in Turkey and France ? and more immediate security concerns as protesters descend on the Ohio city two weeks after the police killing of black men in Louisiana and Indiana and the assassination of five Dallas cops. The Secret Service is erecting concrete barriers to prevent post-Nice copycat attacks. ?We are prepared. We are ready to welcome the world to Cleveland,? said Richard Rowe Jr., the Secret Service?s assistant special agent in charge. Three thousand Department of Homeland security personnel and 500 Cleveland cops will be on hand to keep the peace. Inside Quicken Loans Arena, Trump, the former reality-TV host, has promised ?showbiz? quality ? and vows the convention will avoid the worst sin of TV: being boring. Ivanka Trump said to expect ?a convention unlike any we?ve ever seen.? The convention still has not released a schedule of events, heightening suspense. Here?s what is known: Monday and Tuesday night will focus on Clinton and ?Making America Safe Again.? A slew of law-enforcement officials and military types will make the case that Clinton was a bad secretary of state who made the world less safe. Wednesday night will feature the vice-presidential nominee?s speech ? a time for the country to get to know Mike Pence, the current governor of Indiana and a former member of Congress. Thursday?s grand finale will be Trump?s acceptance speech, a time for him to look serious, and perhaps even presidential, in front of his largest audience to date. A slew of US senators other top politicians, including both President Bushes and the last two Republican nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, won?t be there. Additional reporting by Aaron Short cosplay wigs Police arrested a man and a woman in the French city of Nice on Sunday morning in connection with the truck attack that killed at least 84 people celebrating Bastille Day, a judiciary source said. Authorities have now detained seven people over the killings, claimed by Islamic State. The 31 year-old Tunisian killer, Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, drove at the crowd in the Riviera city on Thursday night, zig-zagging along the seafront Promenade des Anglais for two kilometers as a fireworks display marking the French national day ended, until police eventually shot him dead. French authorities have yet to produce evidence that he had turned to radical Islam. Nevertheless, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Bouhlel may have undergone a rapid change.

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