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'Son of Sam' Killer Turned-Born-Again-Christian Speaks Out 40 Years After Shooting Spree: 'I Thought I Was Appeasing the Devil'

( [email protected] ) Aug 10, 2017 10:38 AM EDT
August 10, 2017: Forty years after his high-profile arrest, David Berkowitz, aka the "Son of Sam" killer, has admitted he was trying to “appease the devil” by murdering six people and wounding seven others.
On the 40th anniversary of his arrest, convicted serial killer David Berkowitz, 64, talks about what led him to embark on his killing spree and what life has been like while imprisoned during the upcoming 'Son of Sam: The Killer Speaks' news special. CBS News

Forty years after his high-profile arrest, David Berkowitz, aka the "Son of Sam" killer, has admitted he was trying to "appease the devil" by murdering six people and wounding seven others.

In a new CBS News interview titled "Son of Sam: The Killer Speaks," Berkowitz, 64, opened up about the shooting spree that terrorized New York City between 1976 and 1977.

Serving six consecutive terms of 25 years-to-life since pleading guilty to murder in May 1978, Berkowitz said he felt "isolated" during the time leading up to his arrest and that he was "just very lost and confused. There was a battle going on inside me."

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

The shootings, he said, were "a break from reality, thought I was doing something to appease the devil. I'm sorry for it."

Today, he's a born-again Christian and rejects the name "Son of Sam", preferring the name "Son of Hope": "As far as I'm concerned, that was not me," Berkowitz said during CBS News interview. "That was not me. Even the name, I hate that name, I despise the name."

Berkowitz said that if he could back in time, he would tell his younger self, "Ugh, turn around before it's too late because destruction is coming."

"People will never understand where I come from, no matter how much I try to explain it," he said. "They wouldn't understand what it was like to walk in darkness."

Minister Roxanne Tauriello, who is a regular visitor to Berkowitz in prison, told People that the former killer "has to wake up every day and remember what he did to innocent 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."

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."

In addition to reflecting on his past, the CBS News interview, airing August 11 at 10pm, looks into what Berkowitz's present is like as a prison inmate who has been behind bars for nearly 40 years.

He reveals that commonplace items such as cellphones and laptops are "space age stuff" to him

"I'm from the dark ages," Berkowitz noted. "You know, when I left, tokens on the subway, you know, yeah?"

The special also includes firsthand accounts from his shooting victims, as well as the police and reporters who worked the crimes. Among those interviewed are Robert Violante, who was shot in a parked car alongside his girlfriend, Stacy Moskowitz, who died from her wounds, and NYPD detective Bill Clark, who investigated the case.  

According to a CBS media announcement, it is Berkowitz's first major TV interview in 10 years.

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