Meet the transformed David Berkowitz in Dr. Michael Caparrelli’s new book, Monster Mirror.
Is there any act too evil for God to forgive?
Although we cannot grasp God’s mercy, we encounter a first-hand account of what God can accomplish in the most barbaric offender’s life in the new book, Monster Mirror, released in early October.
Dr. Michael Caparrelli, a behavioral scientist, minister and author, tells the amazing story of how God transformed America’s most horrific serial killer, David Berkowitz a.k.a. the “Son of Sam,” into a child of God. Berkowitz terrorized New York City from 1976 – 1977 – shooting 15 people, murdering six, lit 1400 fires, all the while claiming that his neighbor’s dog told him to do it. Monster Mirror explores one of the most radical conversions of our era.
By Troy A. Titus and Judi Vankevich
In Monster Mirror, Caparrell in describes the transformation of David Berkowitz’s life since he gave his life to Christ while in jail 35 years ago. Dr. Caparrelli notes, “If the gospel isn’t potent enough to save and sanctify a serial killer, it’s not the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Caparrelli also examines the factors at play behind Berkowitz’s killing spree. Was David Berkowitz a raving psychopath? Or was he under demonic control? Caparrelli unveils both the mental health factors and demonic influences at play within the Son of Sam. “It’s hardly ever one or the other, psychological or diabolical, behind senseless violence. This book sheds light on the synergy between the fragile psyche and the powers of darkness”, Caparrelli states.
In December 2021, Dr. Caparrelli mailed Berkowitz a Christmas card along with a copy of his book, “Dr. Jesus.” He noted, “To my shock, the infamous killer wrote me back a few weeks later stating that he read my book and would like to meet me. I anticipated meeting a monster. Instead, I met a man very much like most of us. Rather than looking into a monster, I found myself looking into a mirror. Hence, the reason for the title – Monster Mirror.”
Meeting Son of Sam
The author and pastor met with David Berkowitz over thirty-four times behind the razor-capped fences of Shawangunk Prison in Ulster County, New York, driving the 6-hour round-trip from his home near Providence, Rhode Island. “I didn’t know that my first meeting with David would turn into a life-long friendship with a reformed man, nor that it would offer so much insight into how evil preys upon the vulnerable. Currently, 12 mass shootings erupt per week in the United States, and this book unveils what’s behind these tragedies.”
He adds, “David Berkowitz invited me to write his story because I’m both a clergyman and a behavioral scientist. As a clergyman, I understand demonic activity, and as a PhD in behavioral science, I understand the psyche.” Over 100 hours of face-to-face sessions with the infamous “Son of Sam”, plus an analysis of over 1100 pages of court records, medical examinations, police reports, and personal correspondence between Berkowitz and others written before and after his crime spree, opens the reader’s eyes to what lurks within the human heart.
Caparrelli states, “Most people have heard of the Son of Sam through secondary sources. My goal in Monster Mirror is to introduce them to a man named David. The reader will be shocked at the thin line between a psychopath and the populace. What happened with David can happen to anyone providing the right circumstances.”
Caparrelli added, “Most of us think that we aren’t capable of heinousness. We presume our close family members and friends cannot do very bad things, that our own son or daughter couldn’t possibly become a mass shooter. But without Christ, any of us are capable of vile behavior when evil takes over.”
Berkowitz: No excuses
In an excerpt from Monster Mirror, Berkowitz’s words are captured, “Doc, I’m reluctant to talk about what was behind the SOS [Son of Sam] tragedy because I don’t want it to sound like excuses. I’ve been locked up for forty-five years, and that sentence still doesn’t satisfy justice. Truly, I deserve to die. An excuse is some reasoning that pardons me from my consequences. No excuses exist. But I do want to explain as best as I can the psychological and paranormal factors behind this madness as a cautionary tale for other troubled young people. I offer no excuses, just explanations.”
Why did Caparrelli send the “Son of Sam” a Christmas card? “I’ve always had a heart for prisoners, due in part to having visited my own father in prison. At the same time, I despise how our society treats prisoners, as if they are not human. My father was depicted as a monster too, but I knew another side of him- one that was funny, generous, and warm-hearted. So, you can expect a humane portrait rather than a horned depiction of David.”
Different from media persona
Caparrelli added that Berkowitz is nothing like the persona that the public believes from media and government reports. “The true David is a man that I’ve come to know well. I’ve seen him sob, blush, fume, belly laugh, and rejoice. I tell about these experiences within my book.”
The book discusses the media reports that Berkowitz recanted his dog-and-devil story: “In May 1978, FBI agents from the Behavioral Science division came to Atticus prison where David was housed at the time and claimed that they needed to learn more about the psychological factors at play during the crimes that David had pled guilty to. Instead, they’d pounded their fists on the interview room table, hollering, “Enough of this devil-made-me-do-it crap, Berkowitz!”
“He’d already been subjected to abuse by the other inmates. They’d make barking noises to antagonize him. They’d mock him and one even stabbed him in the neck with a shank, a hand-made prison knife. David survived Attica by retracting his claims about evil spirits being part of his experience.
While the media has been skeptical over Berkowitz’s claim of conversion to Christianity in prison, Caparrelli noted, “David is the real deal, a brother in Christ, a true Christian man. Like the rest of us, David has flaws. But he works through those defects with the help of Christ, as I share in my book.”
Christian leaders impacted
Other Christian leaders have been impacted by Berkowitz’s testimony. Rev. Don Wilkerson, cofounder of Teen Challenge said, “I consider David a friend. His conversion to Christ is real and it has stood the test of time over decades. Were he ever a free man, I’d ask him to be our in-house teacher at Brooklyn Teen Challenge that my brother David Wilkerson and I co-founded.”
Michael Franzese, former mob underboss for the Colombo Crime Family and now a believer, wrote the foreword for the book, calling it “gritty and glorious,” and concurred that Berkowitz’s faith is genuine.
“In 1979, David was diagnosed with being psychopathic (anti-social personality disorder) with paranoid tendencies,” Caparrelli notes, Today, he is one of the most empathetic and sound-minded men that I know. He is my friend, and I am his. Anyone who knows David will see that Christ has changed him into something entirely different from what he’d been before.”
On October 10, 2023, the 700 Club aired an interview with Dr. Caparrelli and his journey with David. The show featured clips from a video interview with David Berkowitz and Caparrelli, hosted by Michael Franzese.
Are there any crimes too evil for God to forgive? Even though there are consequences to our sins, God forgives and transforms the worst offenders. Yes, Jesus saves psychopaths too.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” Romans 8:14
Monster Mirror, can be ordered on Amazon.com and he can be reached for speaking engagements at Unmuted777@gmail.com.
Republished from Rhode Island’s The Good News Today, published by Larry Lepore.