NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — This summer marks the 40th anniversary of one of the most frightening episodes in the history of New York City — when a serial killer who called himself “Son of Sam” roamed the streets randomly killing innocent young people.
CBS2’s Maurice DuBois traveled to the Shawangunk Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in upstate New York, to interview David Berkowitz.
Talking in his car on the way upstate DuBois said: “I remember we were an hour away from the city, and everybody was afraid. After all that to find out that this was sort of a — people describe him as this chubby, shy, lonely guy who had the whole city buckling at its knees, afraid. It’s a strange sensation.”
Berkowitz said the interview was “a big step” for him.
“I have my misgivings and nervousness and all these other things,” he said.
DuBois interview Berkowitz from the chapel at Shawangunk.
DuBois: “Is this a special place for you?”
Berkowitz: “Yeah, it is. It’s a place of refuge, refuge from the storms of life. And if you know anything about prison, there’s a lot of storms. … I’ve been locked up since the time of my arrest — just under 40 years.”
Newspaper columnist Sam Roberts described what was happening in New York at the time of the killings.
“1977, among other things, was the year that Studio 54 opened,” he said. “It was a time of sexual liberation, perhaps the last gasps of the ‘anything goes’ sexual revolution. This was the era of ‘Saturday Night Fever,’ and it was that throbbing music that became the backdrop for all the wacky behavior that was going on in the city at the time, including a murder spree by a serial killer.”
Berkowitz: “I grew up in the Bronx. I had good times and bad times. I had some struggles over certain issues that happened, but I also had times of adventure, when I played ball with my friends. … It was in many ways a normal childhood, but there I also wrestled with self-destructive behavior.”
Berkowitz: “When I was about 4 or 5, I learned that I was adopted. I struggled with a lot of depression as a child and obsessions with death because I thought I deserved to die. … Wanted to eventually get my own apartment, wanted to find a girl, maybe get married and raise a family. And I had all kinds of perfectly normal hopes and dreams.”
DuBois: “What would you tell 23-year-old David Berkowitz?”
Berkowitz: “Turn around before it’s too late because destruction is coming.”
Berkowitz was arrested Aug. 10, 1977, lifting a tremendous weight from the entire region.
“Son of Sam: The Killer Speaks” will air Friday at 10 p.m. on CBS2. Survivors and NYPD detectives also weigh in, sharing their perspective on forgiveness, conspiracy theories and much more.