The crimes of Ronald DeFeo JrThe ‘possessed’ man who killed his family and inspired The Amityville Horror

Austin Harvey | Edited By Jaclyn Anglis
In 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. fatally shot his parents and four younger siblings in their Long Island home — then blamed the murder spree on demons.
On the day that his family was murdered, Ronald DeFeo Jr. spent most of the afternoon with his friends. But he also called his parents and siblings multiple times, mentioning to his friends that he couldn’t get in touch with them. Eventually, he returned to his family’s home in Amityville, New York to check on everyone. No one expected what came next.
Later that same day, on November 13, 1974, the 23-year-old ran to a local bar in hysterics, screaming that his father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters had been murdered. A group of DeFeo’s friends accompanied him back to his house, where they were all met with a gruesome sight: Every member of the DeFeo family had been fatally shot while sleeping in their beds.
When police arrived on the scene, they found Ronald DeFeo Jr. in shock. He told them that he believed his family may have been targeted by the mob. He even named a potential mob hitman. But police soon discovered that the alleged hitman was out of town, and DeFeo’s story wasn’t adding up.
The next day, he confessed to the truth: He killed his family. And, as his lawyer would later claim, the “demonic voices” in his head made him do it.
Now known as the Amityville Murders, the ghastly story only evolved from there. The home where the DeFeos were murdered, 112 Ocean Avenue, was soon rumored to be haunted and it inspired the 1979 film The Amityville Horror. But whether or not the “Amityville Horror House” was cursed doesn’t change the truth about what happened there in 1974 — or the man who carried out one of the most infamous crimes in Long Island history.
Ronald Joseph DeFeo Jr. was born on September 26, 1951, the oldest of five children of Ronald DeFeo Sr. and Louise DeFeo. The family led a comfortable, upper-middle-class lifestyle on Long Island, thanks in part to Ronald Sr.’s job at his father-in-law’s car dealership. However, as Biography reports, Ronald Sr. was hot-headed and domineering, and sometimes violent toward his family — especially Ronald Jr., who was nicknamed “Butch.”
Ronald Sr. had high expectations for his eldest son and made his anger and disappointment known whenever Butch failed to live up to them.
If life at home was rough for Butch, it only got worse when he went to school. As a child, he was overweight and shy — and other kids frequently tormented him. By his teen years, Butch started lashing out, both against his abusive father and his classmates.
(To be contd)