Cult Liter’s Spencer Henry takes you to one of the greatest horror stories of all time, the Amityville murders. Ronald DeFeo Jr. slew his entire family members on November 1974.
This story is almost entirely due to the 1977 book and later movie franchise The Amityville Horror. On November 13, 1974, six members of the DeFeo family were slain in their beds with a .35 caliber rifle early in the morning. Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr., 23, the eldest child, confessed to murdering his entire family in cold blood. He killed his entire family including his parents Louise and Ronald DeFeo Sr., and his sibling’s 18-year-old Dawn, 13-year-old Allison, 12-year-old Marc, and nine-year-old John Matthew. People believe that the horrific Amityville murders are regarded as a channel for the spirits haunting 112 Ocean Avenue. However, some argued that the DeFeo families were also victims of the house.
Ronald DeFeo Jr.’s childhood was monetarily very comfortable, but not content. His father was a domineering and abusive man, and his mother seemed to fade into the background under his overbearing personality. From that, Ronald DeFeo Jr. grew increasingly troubled into young adulthood. He began to rely on drugs and alcohol to cope. He lashed out physically and even threatened his father with a gun.
On that particular day in 1974, it wasn’t unusual that DeFeo decided to leave work at noon out of boredom. He met with friends at a bar, constantly calling his house to no answer and complaining about it to anyone who would listen. He eventually left. The next time anyone saw Ronnie, the entire town of Amityville would be changed forever.
All six bodies were found in their beds, positioned on their stomachs. The victims appeared to be shot with a high powered rifle at around 3:15 a.m. Following an investigation by police, Ronald DeFeo’s reason of being at work and then the bar began to crumble, as police noted the family had been dead before 6 a.m. DeFeo frantically changed his story, as he would several more times throughout the Amityville murders investigation.
At one point he said that mob hitman Louis Falini killed his family and made DeFeo watch. But Falini had a solid out-of-state alibi and soon DeFeo confessed to police what was assumed to be the truth: he murdered his family by himself. DeFeo stood trial on October 14, 1975. His attorney William Weber mounted an insanity plea, stating that the defendant heard voices that told him to kill his family. However, the prosecution argued that while the drug-abusing DeFeo was indeed troubled, he knew what he was doing when he committed the Amityville murders. He was charged with six counts of second-degree murder and sentenced him to six concurrent sentences of 25 years to life.
You can hear more Macabre History, True Crime, and All Things Bizarre by listening to Episode 6 at Cult Liter with Spencer Henry.