PUBLISHED SUNDAY NOVEMBER 18, 1997
Copyright 1997 The Pensacola News Journal. All
'Son of Sam' conversion
By John W.
The latest name on the tally of
saved souls is David Berkowitz, says Steve Hill.
Berkowitz is also known as "Son of
Sam," the killer whose year-long spree left
six people dead and eight wounded in New York
He is in prison for life with no chance of
Berkowitz, who claims to have converted to
Christ in 1987, will get his first parole hearing
in the year 2002 five years from now and Hill,
who will be featured on a video touting
Berkowitz's conversion, says the former killer is
a changed man.
Hill hopes to enlighten people to Berkowitz's
salvation. The videotape will be sold at the
Pensacola Brownsville Revival and marketed on
national television. It should be available in
time for Christmas.
"They felt like I would be the one to
bridge the gap between David Berkowitz and the
youth of America," said Hill, who was chosen
for the project by his long-time friend, Don
Wilkerson, executive director of the
international division of Teen Challenge, a
Christian-based drug treatment program.
"I'm coming on the video as a former
typical kid who got messed up."
Hill said he does not know whether Berkowitz
should be paroled, but he does believe that, if
released, Berkowitz would not kill again.
"He's grown up. He's a man. He did those
things when he was confused," Hill said.
"I don't know what I would feel like if
it was my child who had been killed," Hill
Neysa Moskowitz does.
Her daughter, Stacy, was in a parked car in
Brooklyn, cuddling with her boyfriend, on July
31, 1977, when Berkowitz shot and killed her. She
was his last victim.
"I do not think he belongs out of prison.
If he could be so easily led into killing people,
then he should not be let out amongst normal
people," said Moskowitz, 64.
"He took something very precious and very
dear to me. She had just turned 20. She was
beautiful. It ruined my other daughter for 10
years. She's only starting now and she's 36 to
make a life for herself. He destroyed everyone in
Moskowitz said Hill should be stopped before
he can convince anyone that Berkowitz is anything
other than a killer.
'Son of Hope'
Hill has never met Berkowitz in person.
He has never traveled to Sullivan Correctional
Facility in Fallsburg, N.Y., where Berkowitz has
been confined since Dec. 4, 1987.
But Hill said he believes Berkowitz when the
inmate says he is saved.
According to Berkowitz, he received Christ one
night in prison as he was kneeling on the floor.
"When I finished talking to God, I got
up. My mind seemed to flood with a sense of
peace," Berkowitz wrote. "I knew from
that moment that Jesus Christ heard me. I sensed
in my heart that I was forgiven and that I was
The man who told police that he was driven to
commit murder by a 6,000-year-old demon whose
voice he heard through his neighbor's dog, Sam,
now wants to be known as the "Son of
He sends pamphlets to churches around the
world, and ministers to other inmates. Since
March 24, 1997, he has worked as a clerk/typist
in the prison chaplain's office at Sullivan,
earning 21 cents an hour.
Berkowitz has had just one disciplinary
violation in the nine years since he arrived at
Sullivan, said Mike Houston, assistant director
of public information for the New York state
Department of Correctional Services in Albany.
On Dec. 26, 1989, he was cited for refusing a
direct order and was confined to his cell for 15
days, 23 hours a day, except for a mandatory
one-hour daily recreational period. He also lost
his phone and commissary privileges for 15 days.
Is it possible that he might one day be
Tom Grant, assistant to the chairman of the
state Parole Board, said the board has the power
to release violent offenders.
According to Grant, the board looks at a
number of factors: The nature of the crime,
letters from victims, the inmate's behavior in
prison, the inmate's job prospects and the
probability that the inmate will not be a risk to
New York Gov. George Pataki is asking the
Legislature to pass a bill to prevent any violent
criminal from receiving parole for any reason,
but Grant said that if the bill becomes law, it
would apply only to newly sentenced criminals,
not to Berkowitz because he is already serving
The sin problem
Steve Hill and David Berkowitz have common
Both are in their early 40s; Hill is 43,
Berkowitz is 44.
Both have been arrested.
Both say they have found Jesus Christ.
Hill says that common ground allows him to
bridge the gap between Berkowitz and the youth of
America, who are struggling to overcome sin.
"David's problem was sin," he said.
"The devil lied to David Berkowitz."
On the Berkowitz video, Hill says, he gives an
altar call, asking people to cast off their sins
and be saved.
Moskowitz isn't buying the story that
Berkowitz has repented.
"He wants to save everybody? He could
have saved my daughter," she said.
"It's a crock of garbage. I don't believe
Moskowitz said she moved several years ago
from New York to Miami, but she does not stop
And she does not forget.
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