Mindhunter Season 2 is delving into the mind of a serial killer from the mid-'70s: The Son of Sam. According to the New York Times, the Son of Sam's real name is David Berkowitz and he went on a shooting spree in New York City in 1976 and 1977 before eventually getting caught and pleading guilty to killing six people and wounding seven. CBS News reported that he was given six life sentences for his crimes, although he would be up for parole at some point. So is the Son of Sam still in prison in 2019?
Despite getting six life sentences for six murders, Berkowitz was allowed the opportunity to apply for parole in 2002, per his New York inmate file, though he remains in prison. According to Newsweek, Berkowitz found God in prison and converted to Evangelical Christianity. Salon reported in 2016 that he believed he was doing better. "I've really done wonderful," he said "I was constantly putting myself out there to help other individuals, with kindness and compassion. I mean, I feel that’s my life's calling, all these years. My evaluations, and so forth, should show that to be true. I've done a lot of good and positive things, and I thank God for that."
According to Newsweek, he asked in 1987 that people refer to him as the "Son of Hope" instead of the Son of Sam, but his requested name never stuck. The nickname Son of Sam was born out of what Berkowitz claimed drove him to kill. Per Newsweek, he claimed that his neighbor Sam's dog was possessed and demanded that Berkowitz kill for him. Berkowitz eventually deemed himself the Son of Sam.
According to Esquire, FBI agent John Douglas — who wrote the book upon which Mindhunter is based — claimed that Berkowitz dismissed the demon dog excuse when he was interviewed by Douglas and his FBI partner Robert Ressler. Douglas wrote:
"Early on in the interview, we came to the topic of this three-thousand-year-old dog that made him do it. The psychiatric community had accepted the story as gospel and thought it explained his motivation. But I knew that that story hadn't actually emerged until after his arrest. It was his way out. So when he started spouting about the dog, I said simply, "Hey, David, knock off the bullshit. The dog had nothing to do with it." He laughed and nodded and admitted I was right."
Esquire reported that the second episode of Mindhunter Season 2 focuses on Berkowitz as he's interviewed by the fictional counterparts of real FBI agents Douglas and Ressler. It takes place shortly after his initial incarceration, but before his reported 1987 Son of Hope transformation, so it will be interesting to see what Berkowitz was like so soon after he committed his crimes.
Although Berkowitz claims to be the Son of Hope now, Salon reported that he's been denied parole every time he applies. His New York inmate record says he can apply again in May of 2020. Unless he gets parole, Berkowitz will likely serve out the remainder of his lengthy sentence. He's currently housed at the maximum security Shawangunk Correctional Facility in Ulster County, New York. He is 66 years old.