Ronnie DeFeo shot and killed the six family members at 3:15 a.m. on the morning of November 13, 1974 with a .35 caliber rifle.
In court he testified to being possessed by Satan whom he blamed for the murders. The house itself, located in Amityville, New York, was believed to be under demonic attack. When the new owners of the house started seeing signs of demonic possession, they fled the house in complete terror and fear, never to return to it again. Later, it all turned out to be a publicity seeking hoax.
The house was rumored to have been torn down, but it was just a remodelling project. The most recent owners, a family of five, are very happy in the house and have not experienced any paranormal activity. On a lighter note, the DeFeo murders and its subsequent haunting became part of pop culture with the brilliant "Amityville Horror" film series.
Ronald Joseph "Butch" DeFeo, Jr. (born September 26, 1951) is an American murderer. He was tried and convicted for the 1974 killings of his father, mother, two brothers and two sisters. The case is notable for being the real life inspiration behind the book and film versions of The Amityville Horror.
The murder of the DeFeo family
At around 6:30 on the evening of November 13, 1974, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo, Jr. burst into Henry's Bar in Amityville, Long Island, New York and declared: "You got to help me! I think my mother and father are shot!" DeFeo and a small group of people went to 112 Ocean Avenue, which was located not far from the bar, and found that DeFeo's parents were indeed dead. One of the group, Joe Yeswit, made an emergency call to the Suffolk County Police, who searched the house and found that six members of the same family were dead in their beds.
The victims were car dealer Ronald DeFeo, Sr. (43), Louise DeFeo (42), and four of their children: Dawn (18); Allison (13); Marc (12); and John Matthew (9). All of the victims had been shot with a .35 caliber lever action Marlin 336C rifle at around three o'clock in the morning of that day. DeFeo's parents had both been shot twice, while the children had all been killed with single shots. Louise DeFeo and her daughter Allison were reportedly the only victims who were awakened by the gunfire at the time of their deaths, but according to Suffolk County Police the victims were all found lying on their stomachs in bed. The DeFeo family had occupied 112 Ocean Avenue since purchasing it in 1965. The murdered members of the DeFeo family are buried in nearby Saint Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale.
Ronald DeFeo, Jr. was the eldest son of the family, and was also known as "Butch". He was taken to the local police station for his own protection after suggesting to police officers at the scene of the crime that the killings had been carried out by a mob hit man named Louis Falini. However, an interview with DeFeo at the station soon exposed serious inconsistencies in his version of events, and the following day he confessed to carrying out the killings himself. He told detectives: "Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. It went so fast." DeFeo admitted that he had taken a bath, redressed, and discarded crucial evidence like blood-stained clothes, the Marlin rifle and cartridges on his way to work as usual.
Trial and conviction
DeFeo's trial began on October 14, 1975. He and his defense lawyer William Weber mounted an affirmative defense of insanity, with DeFeo claiming that voices in his head had urged him to carry out the killings. The insanity plea was supported by the psychiatrist for the defense, Dr. Daniel Schwartz. The psychiatrist for the prosecution, Dr. Harold Zolan, maintained that although DeFeo was an abuser of heroin and LSD, he had antisocial personality disorder and was aware of his actions at the time of the crime.
On November 21, 1975, DeFeo was found guilty on six counts of second-degree murder. On December 4, 1975, Judge Thomas Stark sentenced Ronald DeFeo, Jr. to six consecutive sentences of 25 years to life.
DeFeo is currently held in Green Haven Correctional Facility, Beekman, New York, and all of his appeals to the parole board to date have been turned down.