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Forty Years After Shooting Spree, 'Son of Sam' an Evangelical Christian, Doesn’t Want to Leave Prison

( [email protected] ) Jul 26, 2017 12:22 PM EDT
July 26, 2017: David Berkowitz, aka the "Son of Sam" killer, is now a born-again Christian who wants to remain behind bars as penance for his crimes and "reach out to young people to show them the consequences of [their] actions."
David Berkowitz, aka the "Son of Sam" killer, is now a born-again Christian who wants to remain behind bars. New York Times

David Berkowitz, aka the "Son of Sam" killer, is now a born-again Christian who wants to remain behind bars as penance for his crimes and "reach out to young people to show them the consequences of [their] actions."

People Magazine recently published in-depth report on Berkowitz, now 64, nearly 40 years after he began his shooting spree, which terrorized New York City for 13 months.

Berkowitz became famous for shooting six young people and maiming seven others in the summer of 1976-1977. He came up with the nickname "Son of Sam" and during his trial claimed that the neighbor's dog, Sam, told him to carry out the shootings through a demon.

Serving six consecutive terms of 25 years-to-life since pleading guilty to murder in May 1978, Berkowitz "has to wake up every day and remember what he did to innocent people," minister Roxanne Tauriello, who is a regular visitor to him in prison, told People.

"David grieves over that a lot, and you can't say to him - you never want to say 'Son of Sam' in front of him," Tauriello said. "He never uses that name, ever."

"He is genuinely sorrowful and does not want to get out of prison," she added. "He knows he deserved to die and deserves to be exactly where he is."

After his capture, Berkowitz was initially declared mentally unfit. However, that ruling was reversed, and he was ordered to face charges. Berkowitz avoided a trial by pleading guilty.

David Berkowitz
(Photo : AP Photo)
David Berkowitz (second from left) in August 1977, after his arrest

While in prison, Berkowitz reached a bottoming-out and contemplated suicide. After a dark night of despair, he found God - and was forgiven of his sins.

He told CBN: "God has been so good to me. I was living in such spiritual darkness and mental confusion, but the Lord reached out with his hands of mercy -- his hands were outstretched towards me -- and he saved my life. And I just thank him."

Today, he's called "Brother Dave" by other inmates, and now participates in an online ministry that is operated for him by evangelical Christians.

"I cannot reconcile his deeds with the person I know today. It is hard to believe that at one time he was so wicked, so evil, so violent," Tauriello said. "He is not putting on a façade, and he is not doing anything to get out of prison," the pastor added, noting that "years ago he wrote a letter to [New York] Gov. Pataki stating he does not want to come out."

"He told me in conversations that he deserved to die, that he should have died, but at that time in New York, they did not have the death penalty," she said. "He destroyed the lives of his victims, the parents of his victims and those that survived, who have to live with the fear of that."

Now, according to Tauriello, Berkowitz says "one of his goals is to warn young people on the road to destruction. One of his ministries is to reach out to young people to show them the consequences of [their] actions."

Berkowitz, who now refers to himself as the "Son of Hope", told the Daily News in 2012, "I tell you, I felt like I was under demonic control. I don't even recognize that person. 'Son of Sam' represents evil and satanic things. That person is like a total stranger to me now. God has put some really great, caring people in my life. To me, they are more than friends, they are family. I'll be the first to say that I don't deserve to have my life spared, but I believe God spared my life for me to do the things I'm doing now."

"I want people to see my God is a God of miracles," Berkowitz added. "If He can save someone like me, He can save anybody."

Berkowitz' case will be revisited in the Investigation Discovery documentary Son of Sam: The Hunt for a Killer, premiering Aug. 5.

Tags : David Berkowitz, Son of Sam, Son of Hope, Killer, serial killer