John Keenan, the police official who led New York City's manhunt for the Son of Sam killer and eventually took a case-solving confession from David Berkowitz, has died.
His death on Thursday at the age of 99 was announced by the police department and Keenan's family. He had been in declining health in the past two months and died of heart failure, his grandson Kevin Brennan said.
Keenan was the New York Police Department's chief of detectives during the killings, which terrified the city in 1976 and 1977 as an unknown gunman stalked his victims with a handgun, killing six and wounding seven others.
When a parking ticket issued to a car seen parked near the scene of one slaying finally led detectives to the Yonkers home of 24-year-old postal worker Berkowitz in August 1977, Keenan was there to confront him.
It was a climactic scene Keenan later recounted many times for journalists.
"I know you. You're Detective - Chief Keenan," said Berkowitz, who had publicly taunted the police with notes during the hunt.
"Who are you?" Keenan asked.
"I am the Son of Sam," Berkowitz replied.
Keenan's work on the case came near the end of a 37-year career with the police department. He announced his retirement five months later when a new commissioner took office and wanted to appoint his own top deputies.
During World War II, Keenan was a lieutenant in the Army's Counter Intelligence Corps. He landed on Utah Beach in the D-Day invasion and participated in the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of Paris.
Author J.D. Salinger, who was writing Catcher in the Rye between battles, was in Keenan's infantry division and became a lifelong friend.
After leaving the NYPD, Keenan became vice president for operations at the New York Racing Association, which operates the Belmont Park, Aqueduct and Saratoga thoroughbred horse tracks.
Keenan and his wife, Sara, were married for 73 years. They had met during the war at an Army headquarters where she was working on New York's Governors Island and wed soon after he returned from overseas, Brennan said. Two of their three daughters preceded him in death.
Keenan's leadership of the Son of Sam manhunt cemented his reputation as a tough but tactical policeman.
Australian Associated Press