The crimes of Ronald DeFeo JrThe ‘possessed’ man who killed his family and inspired The Amityville Horror
Austin Harvey | Edited By Jaclyn Anglis
Contd from previous issue
He then entered his four siblings’ rooms and murdered his sisters and brothers: 18-year-old Dawn, 13-year-old Allison, 12-year-old Marc, and 9-year-old John Matthew.
Afterward, he took a shower, hid his bloody clothing and gun in a pillowcase, and left for work, ditching the evidence in a storm drain along the way.
That day at work, DeFeo made several calls to his family’s home, feigning surprise that his father hadn’t come in. By the afternoon, he had left work to hang out with friends, still making calls to the DeFeo home and, naturally, receiving no answer. After leaving his group to “check” on his relatives in the early evening, DeFeo claimed to have found his family murdered.
Over the course of the ensuing investigation, DeFeo spun several tales about what had happened on the day of the Amityville Murders. At first, he tried to blame a mob hitman named Louis Falini — but police quickly learned that Falini was out of town at the time. He couldn’t have killed the DeFeos.
Then, the next day, Ronald DeFeo Jr. confessed, later claiming that he heard voices in his head that pushed him to kill his family.
The chilling story quickly spread, with rumors surfacing across the country that DeFeo was tormented by demons. When another family, George and Kathy Lutz and their three children, moved into the home about a year later, they perpetuated the story further, claiming the house was haunted by malevolent spirits.
It soon became known as the Amityville Horror House and inspired a number of books and movies, including the 1979 film The Amityville Horror.
But the Lutzes have been accused of fabricating their stories over the years in order to sell books and land a movie deal — and Ronald DeFeo Jr.’s later claims seem to back this up. According to a 1992 interview with DeFeo, he made up hearing voices on the advice of his lawyer, William Weber, to make the story sound more attractive for future book and movie contracts.
“William Weber gave me no choice,” DeFeo told The New York Times. “He told me I had to do this. He told me there would be a lot of money from book rights and a movie. He would have me out in a couple of years and I would come into all that money. The whole thing was a con, except for the crime.”
That same year, DeFeo attempted to seek a new trial, this time claiming that the offer of movie money tainted his original trial and that his 18-year-old sister, Dawn, had been the real culprit responsible for murdering their family. He did admit to killing Dawn, but only after discovering her alleged crimes.
At a 1999 parole hearing, DeFeo said, “I loved my family very much.”
DeFeo spent the rest of his life in prison. He died in March 2021 at age 69.
Courtesy History Uncovered