5 Things To Know About David Berkowitz

It’s been more than four decades since serial killer David Berkowitz—also known as the ‘Son of Sam’—was arrested in 1977 for a killing spree that terrorized New York City for nearly a year.

August 10, 2021
Police officials bring in handcuffed Son-of-Sam suspect David Berkowitz to side entrance of Police Headquarters. [Al Aaronson/NY Daily News via Getty Images]

Police officials bring in handcuffed Son-of-Sam suspect David Berkowitz to side entrance of Police Headquarters. [Al Aaronson/NY Daily News via Getty Images]

Police officials bring in handcuffed Son-of-Sam suspect David Berkowitz to side entrance of Police Headquarters. [Al Aaronson/NY Daily News via Getty Images]

By the time he was apprehended, six people had been shot dead by a .44 revolver, and another seven were wounded.

David Berkowitz named himself ‘Son of Sam’

Berkowitz left letters at the crime scene signed “Son of Sam,” an apparent allusion to his neighbor, Sam Carr. At one point, Berkowitz told police that Carr’s dog was possessed by an ancient demon who demanded the blood of young women, and that his motive to kill was that he was simply following the satanic orders. Some theorize that Berkowitz had accomplices and was perhaps involved in a cult, though he generally says he acted alone.

David Berkowitz is still alive

Berkowitz was 24 when he was arrested for killing six women over the course of 12 months, and he is currently incarcerated at Shawangunk Correctional Facility about 80 miles north of Manhattan. He is an assistant to the prison chaplain where he fills out paperwork and cleans the room where church services are held.

Son of Sam has a blog

Berkowitz says he became a Christian in 1987 after a fellow inmate urged him to read the bible. Today, there is a website that explains more about Berkowitz’s faith, his apology to his victim, and a blog that receives regular updates. In posts from June 2021, Berkowitz wrote about his thoughts on a passage from the Bible, a pen-pal who wrote to him in the mid 1990s, riding his bike around the Bronx in the 1960s, and setting the record straight about his reputation as a loner. “I’ve never had a problem meeting new people and making friends,” he wrote.

Berkowitz has been eligible for parole since 2002

Because he pleaded guilty, Berkowitz became eligible for parole after serving 25 years of his sentence. Inmates are eligible to apply for parole every two years, and so far, Berkowitz has been unsuccessful in his bids for freedom. His most recent attempt to get parole was dashed in May 2020 when the Covid 19 pandemic cancelled his hearing. He will go before the parole board again in May 2022.

Berkowitz’s notoriety inspired New York’s ‘Son of Sam law’

After his arrest in 1977, New York State legislators feared the killer would try to capitalize on his popularity in the media, so they passed a law that said any money a criminal made by selling his or her story would have to be held in escrow and disbursed to victims who got a civil judgement. Publisher Simon and Schuster challenged the law in 1989 as a violation of the first amendment. The case was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1991, and it overturned the law, saying that “content-based” laws are unconstitutional.

For more on these shocking serial killings, stream Son of Sam: The Hunt for a Killer on discovery+.

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