Netflix’s latest true-crime project takes another look at one of New York City’s deadliest murder sprees. The docuseries The Sons of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness re-examines the David Berkowitz case that terrorized New York City in the ’70s. While Berkowitz was held responsible for the Son of Sam shootings, investigative journalist Maury Terry believed that there was more to this case. So what happened to David Berkowitz after he was caught? Berkowitz did, in fact, talk with Terry on two occasions after he was convicted. Today, he is still serving six consecutive life sentences in prison, where he has taken to the Christian faith.
What Were the Son of Sam Killings?
From 1976 to 1977, terror took over New York City when a mysterious killer started shooting in random places with a .44-caliber revolver. The shooter killed six people and wounded seven others before the NYPD could close in on the case. After hurting people, the killer taunted the media and police with letters signed as the Son of Sam. Eventually, the NYPD found the perpetrator: David Berkowitz — or so they presented to the public anyway.
Why Did People Believe Berkowitz Had Accomplices?
Berkowitz confessed to all of the murders and pleaded guilty, claiming that his neighbor Sam Carr’s possessed dog ordered him to kill people. Maury Terry wasn’t convinced that Berkowitz was the sole perpetrator, however. The most glaring inconsistency was that Berkowitz didn’t match the tall and blonde description that some of the Son of Sam survivors described. For years, Terry investigated how John and Michael Carr, who were literally the sons of Berkowitz’s neighbor Sam, may have been involved in the murders.
Berkowitz hasn’t talked much about his past crimes, but Terry did manage to get him to reveal some information in interviews from 1993 and 1997. In one televised interview, Berkowitz elaborated on the satanic group that he was a part of and claimed that he didn’t pull the trigger in all of the shootings. He also claimed that John and Michael Carr were accomplices and shooters in some of the Son of Sam crimes.
Where Is Berkowitz Today?
Today, Berkowitz is 67 years old and serves his sentence at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Wallkill, NY. In prison, Berkowitz started practicing the Christian faith and considers himself a Messianic Jew. He works as a clerk at his prison chaplain, tasked with filing paperwork and cleaning. According to WORLD Magazine‘s profile on him, his fellow inmates call him “pastor,” and he spends most of his spare time reading scripture and writing.
You may have heard of the Son of Sam law that was actually created because of him. Basically, people worried that Berkowitz would sell his story to a writer or filmmaker after he was caught in the ’70s. This law essentially prevents criminals from making money off the publicity of their crimes. The Supreme Court struck the original law down because it violates the First Amendment, but many states have implemented their own revised versions.
In 2006, Berkowitz actually wrote the book Son of Hope: The Prison Journals of David Berkowitz, which follows his introduction to Christianity in prison. He doesn’t receive royalties for his work or the works of others based on his story. WORLD Magazine reported that he currently keeps a blog called Arise and Shine, where he writes about his faith.
Image Source: Getty / Bettmann