David Berkowitz's Chilling Motivation To Kill

In the summer of 1977, serial killer David Berkowitz was arrested for a string of murders across New York. Berkowitz, who also goes by the nickname Son of Sam, famously told police that his neighbor's dog told him to murder his victims (via List Verse). But was that really his true motivation to take the lives of his victims?

In 1975, Berkowitz stabbed a woman numerous times. She survived the attack, reports Britannica. Just eight months later, Berkowitz murdered his first victim in July 1976 and over the course of a year he killed five more people and bragged about it by sending letters to local news organizations. The serial killer would sign his letters with the nickname for the demon that he believed was inhabiting his neighbor's black Labrador retriever. The string of murders was known as the "Son of Sam" shootings.

Berkowitz murdered his last victim in late July 1977 and was finally arrested on August 10 that year. He pled guilty to the shootings in 1978 and was sentenced to multiple consecutive life sentences, totaling 365 years in prison (via Brittanica).

According to Berkowitz's personal website Arise and Shine, he claims that a decade after his arrest, he found religion and finally repented for his crimes. He created a church outreach program in his prison and works with men in a Special Needs Unit to "show them a lot of brotherly love and compassion," according to Arise and Shine.

The devil made him do it

Berkowitz extensively details his motivations on Arise and Shine, starting with a childhood filled with fights with friends, severe depression, suicidality, and "violent and disruptive" outbursts. His adoptive mother died in 1967, which caused his problems to worsen. Brittanica reports that in Berkowitz's diary, he admits to setting 1,500 fires across New York during the 1970s.

According to List Verse, Berkowitz later admitted that a demonic black Laborador was not necessarily the sole reason he committed the unthinkable. After 22 years in a maximum-security prison, Berkowitz talked with radio host Larry King from Sullivan Correctional Facility, reports CNN.

When King asked Berkowitz how he felt during his first killing, he said, "I don't dwell on it at all. It was a horrible thing." CNN also reports that Berkowitz says he became involved in a satanic group, calling this the worst mistake of his life.

Berkowitz continued on, skirting around the issue of the dog who supposedly commanded him to kill, saying that his mind was controlled by Satan. The Son of Sam said, "​​I had made a pact with the devil, I had allowed this satanic thing to control me, and I felt these paranormal powers."