On August 10, 1977 (forty years ago this week) David Berkowitz, a.k.a. the Son of Sam, was finally captured. The serial killer was nabbed by cops in Yonkers following a harrowing yearlong killing spree that left six dead and seven wounded. He is currently serving six consecutive life sentences in prison; most recently he was relocated to Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Upstate New York. On Friday night CBS News will air an interview with him to mark the anniversary of his arrest.
"I see that people will never understand where I come from, no matter how much I try to explain it," Berkowitz told CBS News correspondent Maurice DuBois. "They wouldn't understand what it was like to walk in darkness." He also said he was "very lost and confused" at the time, adding, "There was a battle going on inside me."
Berkowitz, who after he was arrested told police he was compelled to kill by a black labrador named "Harvey," told CBS he needed to "appease the devil," and that "as far as I'm concerned, that was not me." He went on to say he "despised" the name Son of Sam, despite having signed letters to the police and Daily News columnist Jimmy Breslin with that moniker. "I hate that name," he declared.
At the time of the killings Berkowitz was 23 years old, and was known for targeting couples and young women with brown hair. Most of his victims were sitting in parked cars in Queens or the Bronx when they were shot. His last victims were a couple in Bath Beach, Brooklyn, where a local called in a tip about seeing a suspicious man, which led to his capture.
Now, at 64, Berkowitz is a professed born-again Christian, and when DuBois asked him what he would tell his younger self if he could, he said, "Ugh, turn around before it's too late because destruction is coming."
The Daily News also interviewed Berkowitz about the anniversary of his arrest, and he told them, "It was so long ago. I thought (the notoriety) would eventually fade away. I don’t believe I can redeem myself. But I do believe that God can redeem me." He also reiterated that he was under the spell of "demonic influences" at the time.
Berkowitz's attorney, Mark Heller, has reportedly been encouraging his client to file a post-conviction motion that could get his guilty plea vacated, but Berkowitz has apparently refused, telling Heller in an undated letter, "I would love to be released one day. However, I made the decision long ago, for the benefit of the families of the victims, not to seek parole."
Berkowitz has repeatedly sought parole, however, but has been denied (as recently as last year).
In the decades since his arrest, the summer of 1977 has been dubbed "Summer of Sam," with many reminiscing over how terrifying it was to live in NYC with a serial killer on the loose. Last month, the Smithsonian Channel ran an hour-long special, The Lost Tapes: Son of Sam, which dug into the media frenzy surrounding Berkowitz and the murders:
CBS's exclusive interview with Berkowitzairs Friday August 11 at 10 p.m.; you can see preview here.
PIX11 also released a short documentary: