David Berkowitz - arrested as the "Son of Sam" - lived like a bachelor, his bed unmade, pots and pans crammed into the sink, clothing askew, a liquor bottle here and some news pictures over there. But there was something else, and the white plaster walls still glared with the venom of his felt-tip pen.
"I have several children who I'm turning into killers - wait until they grow up," read one chilling message on a side wall of the apartment that one policeman described - generously - as "messy and filthy."
Now Berkowitz was gone, and the crowd stood outside the renovated seven-story brick apartment house on quite Pine Street and talked about the man who had lived among them throughout his purported reign of terror.
He had installed a safety plate over the higher of two locks on his apartment door.
He was quiet, the neighbours recalled, perhaps a big strange, but nice. Never too many friends, some said, and not very happy with noise, others added. In fact, some recounted, he caused trouble. At least, they now thought he did. It was difficult to remember.
Rented by him in April 1976, the small 2 1/2-room residence - more a studio than a full-sized abode - was a housekeeper's nightmare. And a psychiatrist's treasure lode.
Inside, he slept on a mattress on a thick, gold-and-yellow shag rug. A purple oriental pillow rested on top of a soiled blanket, the orange covers and brochures of pornographic advertising riding between the waves of crumpled sheets.
An Army raincoat and several fatigues were crammed in one corner - Berkowitz was in Korea - and two hunting knives lay on the thick floor covering.
Books were pulled from the three-shelf shelf bookstand. "Geology Made Simple," one title promised. "How This Works - From Air Conditioners to Zippers" read another. Several Civil Service preparation manuals fought for floor space with Army manuals on survival training.
"Christ In the Old Testament" was on the stand, just below the two red and yellow plastic tulips that once - courtesy of a built-in aerosol - had breathed fresh air into the stagnant atmosphere.
The room made it clear that David Berkowitz was obsessed with the 44-cal. murders and with death.
Accumulated headlines told of the gunman's carnage and a tilting pile of Official Detective magazines told of gruesome crimes in other places.
Yet it was on the walls that the story would unfold. The red felt-tip pen had worked overtime. "Hi, my name is Willians and I live in this hole," one statement said, an arrow trailing to the side where a water-melon-sized chunk of plaster had been smashed out of the wall.
"My neighbors I have no respect for and I treat them like s--t. Sincerely Williams," another announced.
Edna Williams, who lives next door, remembered when she had heard a loud banging on the wall a month ago. The next morning she found a crack in the wall. She did not report the incident.
Others had reported incidents, however. Sam Carr, the 64-year-old owner of an answering service he ran from his home several blocks away, had received letters several months ago from the man they are accusing of being the 44-cal. killer.
Carr told of being warned in hand-written notes to stop his dog from howling. The noise had been disturbing the sender.
"You wicked, evil man - child of the devil," one note read. "I curse you and your family forever. I pray to God that he takes your whole family off the face of the earth. People like you should not be allowed to live on this planet."
Carr's name had found a place on the walls of Apt. 7-E, as well. "Sam Carr, my master." Someone had written on a wall near the bathroom "Kill for Sam Carr," was scrawled nearby, and the graffitti was signed, "X."
Police speculated whether the suspect had looked to Carr as his father figure, the key to the nickname "Son of Sam," which had sent shudders to every area of the city.