June 18, 2024

The Disturbing Truth Behind the DeFeo Murders in Amityville

Introduction

The DeFeo murders in Amityville, New York, refer to the horrific killing of six family members by Ronald Joseph DeFeo Jr. on November 13, 1974. DeFeo methodically shot and killed his parents, two sisters, and two brothers while they were sleeping in their home. DeFeo was tried and convicted for the murders and sentenced to six consecutive terms of 25 years to life in prison [1]. The case inspired the book and film versions of The Amityville Horror, which portrayed the family’s new occupants as being haunted by supernatural entities that allegedly drove DeFeo to commit the murders. However, subsequent investigations revealed that the Amityville Horror was largely a work of fiction and that the true events surrounding the DeFeo murders were much more disturbing.

 

Background

The DeFeo family, consisting of Ronald DeFeo Sr., his wife Louise, and their five children, moved to 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York, in 1965. The family had previously lived in Brooklyn, but Ronald Sr. wanted a bigger home for his growing family and purchased the spacious colonial-style house on Ocean Avenue for $88,000.

Floor Plan

 

Initially, the Defoe’s were happy in their new home and had no major problems. However, over time, the family began to experience financial difficulties, and Ronald Sr.’s behavior became increasingly erratic and abusive. He was a strict and controlling father who demanded obedience from his wife and children, and he frequently drank to excess.

The DeFeo children also struggled with personal issues. The oldest son, Ronald Jr. (Butch), had a history of drug use and was involved in criminal activity. The second oldest son, Marc, was frequently bullied at school and had a learning disability. Two younger children, John and Allison, were described as quiet and introverted. The eldest daughter, Dawn, had a troubled relationship with her parents and was dating a much older man. Despite these challenges, the Defoe’s continued to live in the house on Ocean Avenue, unaware of the tragedy that awaited them in the future.

The Murders

On the night of November 13, 1974, a gruesome crime was committed in a large Dutch colonial house located at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, Long Island, New York. Six members of the DeFeo family were found dead, having been shot and killed in their own beds. The victims included:

Ronald DeFeo Sr. (43), his wife Louise (42),

and their children Dawn (18),

Allison (13),

Marc (12),

and John Matthew (9).

Victims Locations

Second Floor:

Third Floor:

The killer was soon identified as Ronald DeFeo Jr., the eldest son of the family, who was 23 years old at the time. He was found guilty of six counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to six consecutive terms of 25 years to life in prison.

The method of the killings was particularly brutal. Each victim was shot with a .35 caliber Marlin rifle, while they slept in their beds. The killings were methodical and precise, with each member of the family shot in the head and upper body. The bodies were left undisturbed in their beds, as if the killer had not bothered to check if they were dead.

Ronald Jr. had killed his father first, then his mother, before moving on to his siblings. It is believed that the killings occurred between 3:00 am and 4:00 am, based on the testimony of neighbors who reported hearing gunshots during that time.

The motive for the murders is still a matter of speculation. Ronald Jr. initially claimed that he heard voices in the house and that he was possessed by evil spirits, which compelled him to commit the murders. However, this defense was rejected in court, and he later admitted to acting alone and without any outside influence.

One possible motive for the killings is financial gain. The DeFeo family was experiencing financial difficulties at the time, and Ronald Jr. had been involved in several disputes with his father over money. He may have seen the murders as a way to inherit his father’s estate, which was valued at over $200,000.

Another theory suggests that Ronald Jr. had a history of drug abuse and was heavily addicted to heroin at the time of the killings. It is possible that he was under the influence of drugs and experiencing a psychotic episode when he committed the murders.

Despite the multiple theories surrounding the motive for the DeFeo murders, the case remains a mystery. The brutal and senseless nature of the killings has captivated the public’s imagination and continues to be a source of fascination for true crime enthusiasts.

 

Investigation and Trial

The investigation and trial of Ronald Joseph DeFeo Jr. for the brutal murders of his family in Amityville, Long Island, was a highly publicized case that shocked the nation. Here is an overview of the events that followed the DeFeo murders.

After the bodies of Ronald Jr.’s parents and four siblings were discovered on November 13, 1974, the police launched a massive investigation. At first, Ronald Jr. claimed that a group of hitmen hired by his father was responsible for the murders. However, inconsistencies in his story led the police to suspect that he was the actual killer.

On November 14, 1974, Ronald Jr. was taken into custody for questioning. After hours of interrogation, he confessed to the murders. He claimed that he had killed his family in self-defence after hearing their voices plotting against him in the middle of the night. However, forensic evidence showed that all six victims had been shot with a .35 caliber rifle while they slept in their beds.

Ronald Jr.’s trial began on October 14, 1975, and lasted for 28 days. His defense team argued that he was mentally ill and could not be held responsible for his actions. However, the prosecution countered with evidence of his premeditation and the fact that he had purchased the rifle used in the murders just days before the crime.

On November 21, 1975, the jury found Ronald Jr. guilty of six counts of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to six consecutive terms of 25 years to life in prison. He is currently serving his sentence at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York.

The Amityville Horror case became notorious for the supernatural claims surrounding the house where the murders occurred. The Lutz family moved into the house a year after the DeFeo murders and claimed to experience paranormal activity, including demonic possession and ghostly sightings. Their story was the basis for the bestselling book “The Amityville Horror” and subsequent movie adaptations.

However, many people have dismissed the supernatural claims as a hoax or publicity stunt. The Lutz family’s lawyer admitted that they had embellished their story for profit, and a former parapsychologist who investigated the house later revealed that he believed the haunting was a hoax.

Despite the controversies surrounding the case, the DeFeo murders remain a tragic and gruesome chapter in American criminal history. The senseless killing of an entire family continues to captivate and horrify people to this day.

 

Legacy

The DeFeo murders on Ocean Avenue have left a legacy that has permeated popular culture for decades. The shocking and grisly murders of six members of the DeFeo family inspired a book and multiple film adaptations that have become iconic in the horror genre. In addition to its impact on popular culture, the case has also had a lasting impact on true crime investigations and legal proceedings.

The Amityville Horror, a book by Jay Anson, was published in 1977, just three years after the murders occurred. The book claimed to be a factual account of the supernatural events that took place in the house after the murders, including claims of demonic possession and haunting. The book became an instant bestseller and sparked a cultural fascination with the case. Several film adaptations followed, including the 1979 film starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder, which solidified the Amityville Horror as a classic in the horror genre.

The case has also influenced true crime investigations and legal proceedings. The defense team in the DeFeo trial attempted to use the supernatural claims from the book as a defense for Ronald Jr.’s actions, but the court ultimately rejected this argument. However, the case highlighted the potential for cultural influences to impact legal proceedings and public opinion.

The current state of the house on Ocean Avenue is a topic of interest for many. The house has changed hands multiple times since the murders and has undergone several renovations, but it still stands as a symbol of the tragic events that occurred there. Despite the continued interest in the case, the house is a private residence and is not open to the public.

The DeFeo murders and the subsequent cultural fascination with the case have had a significant impact on popular culture, true crime investigations, and legal proceedings. While the events that occurred on Ocean Avenue in 1974 were undeniably tragic, the case has left a legacy that will continue to fascinate and intrigue for years to come.

Movies and TV Shows

Name Year Description
The Amityville Horror 1979 Directed by Stuart Rosenberg, this movie is based on the book of the same name by Jay Anson. It stars James Brolin and Margot Kidder as a couple who move into a haunted house in Amityville, New York.
Amityville II 1982 Directed by Damiano Damiani, this movie is a prequel to the 1979 film and follows the Montelli family as they move into the same haunted house in Amityville. It stars James Olson and Burt Young.
Amityville 3-D 1983 Directed by Richard Fleischer, this movie is a sequel to the 1979 film and follows a reporter who investigates the haunted house in Amityville. It stars Tony Roberts and Tess Harper.
Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes 1989 directed by Sandor Stern, and starring Patty DukeJane Wyatt and Fredric Lehne. The fourth film based on The Amityville Horror, it premiered on NBC on May 12, 1989
The Amityville Curse 1990 Directed by Tom Berry, this movie is about a family who move into the haunted house in Amityville and are terrorized by the evil spirits there.
Amityville 1992: It’s About Time 1992 Directed by Tony Randel, this movie follows a family who move into the Amityville house and discover a mysterious clock that seems to be connected to the haunting.
Amityville: A New Generation 1993 Directed by John Murlowski, this movie is about a photographer who inherits the haunted Amityville house and begins to experience terrifying visions.
Amityville Dollhouse 1996 Directed by Steve White, this movie is about a family who move into a replica of the Amityville house and discover that the haunted history of the original house has followed them.
The Real Amityville Horror 2005 This documentary, produced by the Discovery Channel, explores the true story behind the Amityville Horror and features interviews with those involved in the case.
The Amityville Horror 2005 Directed by Andrew Douglas, this movie is a remake of the 1979 film and stars Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George as a couple who move into the same haunted house in Amityville.
The Amityville Haunting 2011 Directed by Geoff Meed, this movie is a found footage film about a family who move into the haunted house in Amityville. It stars Devin Clark and Jon Kondelik.
The Amityville Asylum 2013 Directed by Andrew Jones, this movie is about a woman who takes a job at an asylum on the site of the Amityville Horror house. It stars Sophia Del Pizzo and Lee Bane.
Amityville Death House

 

2015 directed by Mark Polonia, written by John Oak Dalton, and starring Eric Roberts. It was released direct-to-video, and is the twelfth film to be inspired by Jay Anson‘s 1977 novel The Amityville Horror.[1]
The Amityville Playhouse 2015 Directed by John R. Walker, this movie is about a group of actors who perform a play in the haunted house in Amityville. It stars Monèle LeStrat and Linden Baker.
Amityville: The Final Testament 2015 Directed by Dustin Ferguson, this movie is about a family who move into the Amityville house and must confront the evil spirits that dwell there.
The Amityville Terror 2016 Directed by Michael Angelo and written by Amanda Barton. It was released direct-to-video, and is the sixteenth film to be inspired by Jay Anson‘s 1977 novel The Amityville Horror.
Amityville: No Escape 2016 written and directed by Henrique Couto, and co-written by Ira Gansler. It is the seventeenth film to be inspired by Jay Anson‘s 1977 novel The Amityville Horror.[1] A found footage film, it follows two storylines, one set in 1997 and the other in 2016, that both involve 112 Ocean Avenue, a haunted house in Amityville, New York.[2
Amityville: The Awakening 2017 Directed by Franck Khalfoun, this movie is about a family who move into the haunted house in Amityville and must deal with the supernatural forces there. It stars Bella Thorne and Cameron Monaghan.
Amityville Exorcism 2017 directed by Mark Polonia,[1][2] and written by Billy D’Amato.[3] It was released direct-to-video, and is the eighteenth film to be inspired by Jay Anson‘s 1977 novel The Amityville Horror.[3] The film stars Jeff Kirkendall as Father Benna, a Catholic priest who, with the help of a troubled father played by James Carolus,
The Amityville Horror Murders 2018 This true crime documentary, produced by the Investigation Discovery channel, explores the murders that took place in the Amityville house in 1974, which inspired the book and later movies.

 

 

 

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