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Published Jul. 13, 2010

During a yearlong string of shootings before his arrest in the summer of 1977, David Berkowitz, known as the Son of Sam, killed six people and wounded seven others in New York City.

Upon his confession to the shootings, the portrait of the serial killer that emerged was of a disturbed loner, a man with a .44-caliber handgun who said he took orders from a demonic black Labrador retriever owned by a neighbor.

But in the years Berkowitz has been serving a 25-year-to-life sentence, he has attracted an array of individuals from outside prison who, although they deplore his murderous past, have become friends and acquaintances.

The admirers, to a great degree, are made up of evangelical Christians who have been moved by his story of becoming a born-again Christian 23 years ago, and they have sought to publicize his account of redemption.

"Going to see him is one of the joys in life," said Dan Nicholls, a retired public school teacher in New Jersey.

Some of those connected to the Son of Sam case wonder whether Berkowitz, 57, is just using religion to present himself as a changed man. Joseph Coffey, the police sergeant who took Berkowitz's initial confession, said his statements about his religious convictions were as believable as his amended claim to authorities that members of a satanic cult were responsible for a number of the shootings.

New York Times