In his first major television interview in a decade, David Berkowitz — better known as the “Son of Sam” killer — is opening up about what drove him to murder six people 40 years ago. Beginning in the summer of 1976, the infamous serial killer terrorized NYC with a shooting spree that claimed the lives of six people, and wounded another seven.
The now-64-year-old — who has been serving six consecutive life sentences since the late ‘70s — got the moniker “Son of Sam” after signing one of his crimes scene letters with the nickname, which referenced his neighbor Sam’s dog, Harvey, who Berkowitz once claimed was possessed and ordered him to kill. Today, Berkowitz, a born-again Christian, says he hates the name and wants to distance himself from it. He tells Maurice DuBois, “As far as I’m concerned, that was not me. That was not me. Even the name, I hate that name, I despise the name.”
In the interview, which will air on Friday as part of a special, Son of Sam | The Killer Speaks, Berkowitz expresses remorse for what he did so many decades ago. “I see that people will never understand where I come from, no matter how much I try to explain it. They wouldn’t understand what it was like to walk in darkness,” he says. The shootings, he insists, “were a break from reality.” He continues, “[I] thought I was doing something to appease the devil. I’m sorry for it.”
In the years since the murders, Berkowitz has expressed remorse for his crimes. In 2002, he was first eligible for parole, and expressed no interest in seeking it. He said at the time, “In all honesty, I believe that I deserve to be in prison for the rest of my life. I have, with God’s help, long ago come to terms with my situation and I have accepted my punishment.”
Son of Sam | The Killer Speaks airs Friday, Aug. 11, at 10 p.m. EST on CBS.