David Berkowitz Interview (KJV)
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His name is David Berkowitz. Once the notorious “Son of Sam.” His former lifestyle consisted of being an arsonist, a Satanist and serial killer, who in the late 1970s brought a wave of terror to the streets of New York, bringing the greatest city in the world to its knees. After the biggest manhunt in New York’s history, the headlines read “CAUGHT,” and David Berkowitz was sentenced to 350 years behind bars.
However in 1987 after being told of God’s love and desire to forgive even the vilest of sinners, and being encouraged to read the Bible, a miracle took place. With tears streaming down his face, David knelt in his cell and received Jesus. He acknowledged the multitude of his sins, accompanied with a heart’s desire to turn away from them, and embraced Christ as his savior. When he did, new life began to course through his veins. “Son of Sam” died, and “Son of Hope” arose. The Bible states in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
After hearing of such a dramatic transformation, I earnestly desired an interview with the “new” David Berkowitz for my television ministry, The RoxAnne Tauriello Show. By God’s grace, he granted my request. We were now sitting in the media room at the Sullivan Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in upstate New York. As we sat across from each other wearing lapel microphones with our Bibles placed upon a small checkerboard table, Dave and I chatted. Suddenly my director, John, announced “RoxAnne … we’re ready … we’re rolling” and the count began … “5 … 4 … 3 … 2 … ” The cameras faded in from black and David continued to pour out his heart as I asked the remaining questions.
RoxAnne: David, what would you like to say to people?
David: RoxAnne, I would like to tell them that Jesus Christ loves every one of them very much. He understands whatever problems or circumstances a man or woman may be going through—the hardships in life—and that He is the one they must turn to for help. For it says in the Bible, concerning the devil, that he is a thief who has come to “steal, kill and destroy.” I believe it is really Satan and his ability to influence humanity that is the biggest cause of people becoming confused and troubled. We’re being surrounded on every side by demonic influences. But the Bible also says concerning Jesus Christ, that He has come to give us a better life, and to give it abundantly (John 10:10). I recall, back in my teenage years, how confused and troubled I had been. I was searching for something. But I didn’t know what I was searching for. My life was empty.
There was a cry in my heart and a yearning within the depths of my soul for something more. I did not feel fulfilled, and I thought I had no purpose to live for. And when I got older, doing things like going out on a date with a girl, or getting drunk or high, or even participating in acts of criminal mischief to try to alleviate the feelings of boredom was not cutting it. Many times thoughts of committing suicide would enter my mind, too.
However, now that I am a believer in Christ, I’ve come to understand that Jesus came, not only to pay the price for my sins, but to give me a life of hope, joy and peace of mind even while I must live in a world that has pain, hardship, and often has disappointment as well. Therefore, I believe that everyone needs to be placed on the path which leads to eternal life, and to know that Christ is the Answer to every need.
RoxAnne: And what would you tell someone who wants to use drugs, or is currently using drugs?
David: I would tell them that the devil is a big liar and deceiver. He is clever at tricking people. Satan tries to create within a person sensations of excitement and pleasure, along with feelings of power and invincibility. But what he doesn’t tell you is that there’s the ultimate price one can pay—and this price is death. A person who misuses drugs has, in my opinion, already placed himself or herself on a road which leads to destruction. The devil indeed blinds us to the consequences of sinful behavior, and to the eventual outcome of our poor choices.
RoxAnne: How easy is it for, let’s say, a teenager to start out smoking pot, then continue into other drugs and end up in prison?
David: Well I can tell you that the prison I live in is full of men who started out just this way. They began small, just like I did. It could be stealing something from the local candy store or stealing a car to go on a joyride. There is something else about criminal activity, too: there’s always something bigger held out in front of you. Yes, the devil knows how to make you think you won’t be satisfied until you have it. He knows how to pull people along until they get right to the edge, and they don’t even know it’s happening.
Many of the men who are with me, including myself, are here today because we started doing those “little things” like smoking a small amount of marijuana or sneaking off to take a few drinks of beer or wine. The next thing you know, getting high seems so normal. In addition, most of the guys now in prison are here due to alcohol and drug related crimes, or their crimes were fueled by these things. They began with one beer or just that one hit of something, then years down the road, once they’re far along on this path, there was no turning back. The next step was prison.
RoxAnne: A lot of people think that prison is a country club. They’ve got TVs, they have gyms. Is it a country club?
David: RoxAnne, prison is not a country club. This idea is a media distortion which I think is potentially harmful. Prison is a place where there is lots of anger and tension. Sometimes the atmosphere is so charged with bitterness and hatred that you could almost cut it with a knife. Prison is the last place a person wants to be. I think it could be likened to a type of hell. In prison there are fights and lots of gang activity. There is trouble of all kinds and a man can get cut with a razor or stabbed with a knife for no reason. Men steal from each other. It is a place of fear. In my opinion great harm is done when prisons are portrayed as country clubs. Young persons hear this and lose their fear of committing a crime, because I think the biggest deterrent to crime is the fear that, if one is caught, he will be sent to prison to be punished.
RoxAnne: Tough guys. They’ve been out on the streets committing crimes, and maybe doing drugs too. When they’re in prison are they still tough?
David: They try to maintain their toughness and their macho image as long as they can. But beneath the surface there’s a lot of fear, loneliness, regret and depression. Men are usually good at masking their true feelings. On the outside they look cool and calm. They know they messed up their lives real bad.
RoxAnne: So for those who are thinking about experimenting with alcohol and drugs, and for those who are already doing these things, what would you want to tell them?
David: I want to tell every human being that you need Jesus Christ to become your Savior and Lord. That if you’re abusing substances like alcohol, drugs or even solvents, you’re headed for a dead end. You may even lose your life. And if you were to die without Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will find yourself stuck forever in a burning hell. Therefore, now is the day for you to repent of these things. Jesus said in St. Luke 13:3 “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” So you need to acknowledge your sin, accompanied with a desire to turn from sin and to trust in Jesus Christ.
RoxAnne: That’s exactly what the Bible teaches. People need to repent and trust in Jesus Christ as God’s only way to heaven by believing that Christ was and is God the Son; and that upon the cross every single sin you ever committed—past, present and future sins—were placed upon Him. By faith, see Jesus Christ taking personally for you God’s wrath, the punishment and penalty due to you and your sins so that upon death you would not be punished.
The Bible states in 1 Peter 2:24 that Jesus “bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” He died, was buried, but on the third day rose from the dead, and upon a desire to turn from sin and place faith in Christ alone, God will forgive your sins, you will have a personal relationship with Him, and a home in heaven.
Right now if you would like to receive God’s forgiveness, fellowship and a brand new life free from the chains and bondage of sin and addictions, David and I would like to invite you to bow your head and say these words to God if you mean them with all of your heart. Remember that it is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as personal Savior—not words alone—that save you.
Lord I know I am a sinner. I am sorry for my sins, and by your enabling power I desire to turn away from the lifestyle I’ve been living. I now believe that Jesus Christ was and is God the Son, and that He died on Calvary’s cross, taking the punishment and penalty for my sins so that I will not be punished. He died, was buried, but on the third day rose from the dead. I now receive Him as my own personal Savior, knowing that through Him alone I receive your forgiveness, a relationship with you and eternal life in heaven. Thank you God.
Copyright © 2011 by RoxAnne Tauriello