SON OF HOPE
My Story by David Berkowitz
May God bless everyone who is reading this message!
My name is David Berkowitz, and I am a prison inmate who has
been incarcerated since 1977. I
have been sentenced to prison
for the rest of my life. My criminal
case is well known and
was called the "Son of Sam" shootings.
It was in 1988, when I
was living in a cold and lonely prison cell, that God got hold
of my life. Here is my story
CHILD OF TORMENT
Ever since I was a small child, my life seemed to be filled
with torment. I would often have
seizures in which I would
roll on the floor. Sometimes
furniture would get knocked over.
When these attacks came, it felt as if something was entering
me. My mother, who has long since
passed away, had no control
over me. I was like a wild and
destructive animal. My father
had to pin me to the floor until these attacks stopped.
When I was in public school, I was so violent and disruptive
that a teacher, who had become so angry at me, grabbed me in a
headlock and threw me out of his classroom.
I was getting into a lot of fights, too.
Sometimes I started
screaming for no reason. And
eventually my parents were
ordered by school officials to take me to a child psychologist,
or else I would be expelled. I
had to go to this psychologist
once per week for two years. Yet
the therapy sessions had no
affect on my behavior. During
this period of my life I was
also plagued with bouts of severe depression.
feeling came over me, I would hide under my bed for hours. I
would also lock myself in a closet, and sit in total darkness
from morning until afternoon. I
had a craving for the
darkness, and I felt an urge to flee away from people.
A FORCE WAS AT WORK
Occasionally this same evil force would come upon me in the
middle of the night. When this
would happen, I felt an urge to
sneak out of the house and wander the dark streets. I roamed
the neighborhood like an alley cat and would creep back into
the house by climbing the fire escape.
My parents would never
know that I was gone. I continually
worried and frightened my
parents because I behaved so strangely. At times I would go the
entire day without talking to them.
I would stay in my room
talking to myself. My parents
could not reach me, not even
with all their love. Many times
I saw them break down and cry
because they saw that I was such a tormented person.
FIGHTING THOUGHTS OF SUICIDE
Thoughts of suicide often came to my mind.
Sometimes I spent
time sitting on a window ledge with my legs dangling over the
side. We lived on the sixth floor
of an old apartment
building. When my dad saw me
doing this, he would yell at me
to get back inside. I also felt
powerful urges to step in
front of moving cars, or thow myself in front of subway trains.
At times those urges were so strong that my body actually
trembled. I remember that it
was a tremendous struggle for me
to hold on to my sanity. I had
no idea what to do and neither
did my parents. They had me talk
to a rabbi, teachers and
school counsellors, but nothing worked.
MY MOTHER WAS DEAD
When I was fourteen my mother was stricken with cancer, and
within several months she was dead.
I had no other brothers
and sisters, so it was just me and my dad.
He had to work ten
hours per day, six days per week. So
we spent very little time
together. For the most part,
my mother was my source of
stability. With her now gone,
however, my life quickly went
downhill. I was filled with anger at
the loss of my mom. I
felt hopeless and my periods of depression mere more intense
than ever. I also became even more rebellious and began to
cut out of school. The day after
I graduated I went into the
Army. I had just turned 18 several
weeks earlier. I joined
the army, in a sense, to start a new life and get away from my
problems. But even in the service,
I had trouble coping,
though I did manage to finish my 3 year enlistment.
THE FORCE STILL HAD ME
I got out of the service in 1974 to start life again as a
civilian. All my friends that
I knew before had either married
or moved away. So I found myself
alone and living in New York
City. In 1975, however, I met
some guys at a party, who were,
I later found out, heavily involved in the occult. I had
always been fascinated with witchcraft, satanism, and occult
things since I was a child. When
I was growing up I watched
countless horror and satan-type movies.
One of which was
Rosemary's Baby. The movie in
particular totally captivated my mind.
Now I was age 22 and this evil force was still reaching out to
me. Everywhere I went there seemed to be a sign or a symbol
pointing me to Satan. I felt
as if something were trying to
take control of my life. I began
to read the Satanic bible by
the late Anton LaVey who founded the Church
of Satan in San
Francisco in 1966. I began, innocently, to practice various
occult rituals and incantations.
I am utterly convined that something satanic had entered into
my mind, and that, looking back at all that happened, I
realized that I had been slowly deceived.
I did not know that
bad things were going to result from all this . Yet over the
months the things that were wicked no longer seemed to be such.
I was headed down the road to destruction and I did not know
it. Maybe I was at a point where
I just didn't care.
THE HORROR BEGINS
Eventually I crossed that invisible line of no return. After
years of mental torment, behavioral problems, deep inner
struggles, and my own rebellious ways, I became the criminal
that, at the time, it seemed is if it was my destiny to become.
Looking back, it was all a horrible nightmare and I would do
anything if I could undo everything that happened. Six people
lost their lives. Many others suffered at my hand, and will
continue to suffer for a lifetime. I
am sorry for that.
In 1978 I was sentenced to about 365 consecutive years,
virtually burying me alive behind prison walls. When I first
entered the prison system I was placed in isolation. I was
then sent to a psychiatric hospital because I was declared
temporarily insane. Eventually
I was sent to other prisons,
including the famous "Attica".
As with many inmates, life in prison is a struggle. I have had
my share of problems, hassles, and fights,
At one time I
almost lost my life when another inmate cut my throat. Yet all
through this--and I did not realize it until later--God had His
loving hands on me.
HOPE WAS COMING
Ten years into my prison sentence and feeling despondent and
without hope, another inmate came up
to me one day as I was
walking in the prison yard on a cold winter's night. He
introduced himself and began to tell me that Jesus Christ
loved me and wanted to forgive me. Although
I knew he meant
well I mocked him because I did not think that God would ever
forgive me or that He would want anything to do with me.
Still this man persisted and we became friends. His name was
Rick and we would walk the yard together.
Little by little he
would share with me about his life and what he believed Jesus
had done for him. He kept reminding
me that no matter what a
person did, Christ stood ready to forgive if that individual
would be willing to turn from the bad things they were doing
and would put their full faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and
what He did on the cross, dying for our sins.
He gave me a Gideons's Pocket Testament and asked me to read
the Psalms. I did. Every night I would read from them. And
it was at this time that the Lord was quietly melting my stone
A NEW LIFE BEGINS
One night, I was reading Psalm 34. I
came upon the 6th verse,
which says, "This poor man cried and the Lord heard him, and
saved him from all his troubles." It
was at that moment, in
1987, that I began to pour out my heart to God. Everything
seemed to hit me at once. The
guilt from what I did....the
disgust at what I had become...late that night in my cold cell,
I got down on my knees and began to cry to Jesus Christ.
I told Him that I was sick and tired of doing evil. I asked
Jesus to forgive me for all my sins.
I spent a good while on
my knees praying to Him. When
I got up it felt as if a very
heavy but invisible chain that had been around me for so many
years was broken. A peace flooded
over me. I did not
understand what was happening. But in my heart I just knew that
my life, somehow, was going to be different.
MANY YEARS OF FREEDOM
Many hears have gone by since I had that first talk with the
Lord. So many good things have
happened in my life since.
Jesus Christ has allowed my to start an outreach ministry right
here in the prison where I have been given permission by prison
officals to work in the "Special Needs Unit" where men who have
various emotional and coping problems are housed. I can pray
with them as we read our Bibles together.
I get the chance to
show them a lot of brotherly love and compassion.
I have worked as a Chaplains's clerk and also have a letter
writing ministry. In addition,
the Lord has opened ways for me
to share with millions via TV programs such as Inside Edition
in 1983 and A&E Investigative Reporter in 1997, what He has
done in my life as well as to warn others about the dangers of
getting involved with the occult.
I have also shared my testimony on several Christian TV
programs such as the 700 Club in 1997, and the Coral Ridge Hour
(Dr. James Kennedy) in 1999. In
2003, I gave my testimony on
Dr. James Dobson's Focus on the Family.
For all these
opportunities I am most thankful, and I do not feel I deserve
THERE'S HOPE FOR YOU TOO
One of my favorate passages of Scripture is Romans 10:13. It
says "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall
be saved." Here it is clear that God has no favorites. He
rejects no one, but welcomes all who call upon Him. I know
that God is a God of mercy who is willing to forgive. He is
perfectly able to restore and heal our perfectly broken lives.
I have discovered from the Bible that Jesus Christ died for our
sins. Yet He was without sin. He took our place on that
cross. He shed His blood as the
full and complete payment God
required for our wrongdoing. The
Bible also says, "For all
have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23.
Furthermore, it says, "For the wages of sin is death;`
but the gift of God is eternal life through .Jesus Christ our
Lord". Romans 6:23.
These passages make it clear that everyone has sinned. Yes,
some like myself did so more than others.
But all have done
things wrong. Therefore, we must
all make the decision to
acknowledge our sins before God and be sorry for them.. We need
to turn from our lives of sin as well as believe that Christ
was and is the Son of God.
You must believe that Jesus Christ died and was buried, and on
the third day He rose again in victory, for death could not
hold Him. Ask Christ to forgive
you. Declare Him as Lord of
your life and do not be ashamed to do so.
To reject Jesus
Christ and His work on the cross is to reject God's perfect and
only gift of salvation and eternal life.
HERE'S YOUR CHANCE
Friend, here is your chance to get things right with God. The
Bible says, if you confess with
your mouth that Jesus Christ
is Lord, and if you believe in you heart that God has raised
Him fom the dead, you shall be saved.
For with the heart
mankind believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth
confession of salvation is made. Romans
10:9,10. So believe
in your heart that these words
from the Bible are true.
Please consider what I am saying. I
beg you with all my heart
to place your faith in Christ right now.
Tomorrow is promised
to no one.
You see, I am not sharing this message to simply tell you an
interesting story. Rather I want
you to taste the goodness of
God in my life, a man who was once a devil worshipper and a
murderer, to show you that Jesus
Christ is about forgiveness,
hope and change.
I was involved in the occult and aI got burned. I became a
cruel killer and threw away my life as well as destroyed the
lives of others. Now I have discovered
that Christ is my
answer and my hope. He broke
the chains of mental confusion
and depression that had me bound. Today
I have placed my life
in His hands. I only wish I knew
Jesus before all these crimes
happened--they would not have happened.
God bless you and thank you for reading this.
With love in Christ,
Written March 1999
Updated August 2005
(c) 1999 David Berkowitz