Detective Raymond Berke was with her, trying to solve that mystery, when the young woman struggled to write down three words that turned the seasoned detective’s blood cold: “6 more dead.”
Detective Berke soon found himself in an apartment in College Point, gun drawn, going room to room, not knowing if the next corner or next open door would reveal a dead body or a mad dog killer.
It’s a gripping true story that became known as the College Point Massacre; six people brutally murdered in an apartment, women bound and killed and cruelly tossed aside.
The ensuing investigation and quest for justice resulted in the capture of three men who were convicted and put away for life. (The young woman recovered and now leads a happy, normal life.)
This case is one of the many stories told by Woodhaven native Detective Raymond Berke in his recently published book “6 More Dead,” now available through Amazon.
The 20-year veteran of the NYPD has seen it all, from patrolling the streets of the toughest neighborhoods in New York City to the upper-class society of Manhattan, and his book is chock-full of tales of the streets.
A few years back, I was fortunate to have gotten a tour of the 102nd Precinct and while I was there, I sat with a few officers while they shared different stories of the things they had seen; the cops refer to them as “war stories.”
It was a fascinating glimpse into a very different life than the ones most of us live.
“6 More Dead” is very much like that, detailing the many things an officer sees in his career – from the tragic and the sad to the funny and the frightening. But it is the two main cases that the book focuses on that sets it apart from your standard crime memoir.
Besides the horrific College Point Massacre, Detective Berke lays out the investigation into the Inca Gemstone Robbery case that led to him being the first NYPD Detective ever to testify in a court of law in England.
The case, which involved insurance fraud and jewel smuggling and the royal family, was a media sensation around the world, and Woodhaven’s Detective Berke was at the center of it.
Raymond Berke grew up on 80th Street, north of Jamaica Avenue, opposite 86th Road. He went to PS 97, JHS 210 and Franklin K. Lane High School.
“Woodhaven was unlike any other place in the world,” he says. “There is something about Woodhaven that was special.”
Berke is quick to point out that things could have turned out very different for him and the friends he grew up with.
“We weren’t the best kids, that’s for sure,” he says. “We hung out at the schoolyard a lot. That’s where I met my first girlfriend, where I had my first beer. As I got older, I hung out at Paddywack’s for a year or two. I hung out in the park a lot. Pretty much we were everywhere.”
But like a lot of kids from that era of Woodhaven, Berke grew up and moved on. He joined the NYPD in 1981, started his 20-plus year career patrolling the tough streets of Brownsville, and today he’s a partner in a private investigation firm (woodwardberke.com) with another former NYPD detective.
Yet, with all of his experiences, and with all of the years gone by, Detective Berke is still attached to the place where he grew up.
“It’s funny,” he says. “All my dreams take place in Woodhaven. I’ve been out of there forever, and yet every dream I have I’m in Woodhaven.”