On July 29, 1976, the Son of Sam killer, David Berkowitz, began his terrorization of New York City, when he shot two women sitting in a car in the Bronx. Over the next year, Berkowitz struck five more times, before an unpaid parking ticket finally led to his arrest on July 31, 1977. After his arrest, Berkowitz claimed that his neighbor’s dog, Harvey, was to blame, as it was possessed by an ancient demon and had instructed him to commit the murders. While Berkowitz was sentenced to 25 years to life for each of his murders, Harvey the dog got off scot-free because at the time it was still impossible to prosecute a dog in the U.S. judicial system (this was prior to “Fluffy vs. The State of California”of 1981). Veterinary records show that Harvey continued to instruct people to commit murders over the remainder of his life, but after so much publicity no one took him seriously.
Here are a few more animal inspired crimes:
October 8, 1871 – The Great Chicago Fire; Mrs. O’leary claims a cow kicked over a lantern in the barn starting the fire. In actuality, Mrs. O’leary had always been a bit of a pyro and the cow had just convince her that starting the fire was a good idea.
June 21, 1933 – John Dillinger robs his first bank at the insistence of his neighbors canary, Franklin. When Franklin did not receive his promised cut of the “take” from the bank he became enraged and staged a plan to turn Dillinger in to the authorities. Dillinger learned of the plan in advance and ate Franklin. This is where the phrase “singing like a canary” comes from, in reference to confessing criminals. This was left out of the historically inaccurate Johnny Depp film of 2009.
January 5, 1991 – Well before production, George Lucas’ cat, Mr. Pickles, convinced the famous Star Wars director that the character Jar Jar Binks would be a good addition to his prequels.