Several days ago I received a letter from
a young man by
the name of Mike.* He was boasting to me about his big
collection of serial killer cards and his fascination with such
Jake said that he reads a lot of books
and loves to watch
movies about serial killers, that he has amassed many facts
about them from the internet.
My heart was heavy as I read his letter. He's obviously
deluded by the media’s portrayals of those who commit these
kinds of crimes.
I seldom get letters like Jake's. But on occasion people
like him do write to ask questions or to express their
fascination with this subject.
Usually I never reply. With his man, though, I did.
I tried to explain to Jake that hurting
another person is
a horrible thing. It's not exciting or fun. Rather it is sick
It's a nightmare with lots of grief and
pain, I said to
him, not only for the families of the victims, but for the ones
doing the harm.
Jake needed to know, too, that I have a
of sorrow for what I did at a time when my own life was out of
control. That I had no right to take peoples' lives, and how
would do anything if I could undo it.
To me this man appears to be living in
fantasy world in which killing someone is portrayed as being of
no big deal, and that’s cool. I believe that when someone
watches certain crime shows on television or in the movies, it
is easy to get a false impression. I tried to bust through
Jake’s immature and absurd ideas by telling him that inmates
basically lead broken and defeated lives. We struggle to
survive, and we must endure the day-to-day monotony of prison
I explained to Jake that being locked up
is hard. That I
myself have nearly twenty-eight years of confinement, and
to live in a cage like an animal.
He needed to be told to look beyond his
mass murderers and face reality.
I was firm with Jake, but I was kind. I hope I was able
to help him to see that his present views are foolish.
April 16, 2005
*Jake is not his real name
(c) 2005 David Berkowitz