The Amityville Murders, Amityville, Long Island, New York
(Mug shots of the murderer Ronald ‘Butch’ DeFeo Jr.)
The Murder Of The DeFeo Family
On the evening of November 13th 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr, age 23 and the eldest of five children, burst into Henry’s bar shouting that his parents had been shot. A small group of people followed him back to 112 Ocean Avenue only to find a massacre. They found the corpses of all six family members shot dead and lying on their stomachs in their beds. The victims were father Ronald Sr. (aged 43), mother Louise (aged 42), sisters Dawn (aged 18) and Alison (aged 13), brothers Marc (aged 12) and John Matthew (aged 9). All had been shot with a .35 caliber lever action Marlin 336C rifle at 3am that day.
(Photograph of the DeFeo children together, including murderer Ronald Jr.)
After suggesting to the police that the crime had been carried out by a mob hit man named Louis Falini, Ronald Jr. was taken back to the police station for his own protection. But his interview soon exposed serious inconsistencies and he quickly became the investigations number one suspect. The following day he confessed to carrying out the murders himself. At trial he pleaded insanity claiming voices in his head had urged him to commit the murders. This plea was supported by a psychiatrist for the defence, but the psychiatrist for the prosecution maintained that although Ronald Jr. had anti-social personality disorder he was aware of his actions at the time of his crime. He was found guilty of six counts of second-degree murder and currently serves his sentence at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Beekman, New York.
(112 Ocean Avenue - Crime scene and the USA’s most famous haunted house)
Controversy Surrounding The Case
To this day no one knows the true story behind the DeFeo murders, nor why Ronald Jr. decided to murder his entire family. All six victims were found dead in their beds with no sign of a struggle or signs that sedatives had been administrated. It has been speculated that someone should have been awakened by the sound of gunfire and yet the neighbours also did not report hearing any sounds of gunfire. Over the years Ronald Jr. has frequently changed his version of events regarding that night:
- 1974: tells police Tony Mazzeo is most likely responsible.
- 1974: confesses he killed all six family members and draws map to where he dumped the evidence.
- 1975: claims that four other people that were in the house are responsible.
- 1975: confesses he killed entire family alone.
- 1975: claims he was awakened by gunshots, hid and later found his family dead by an unknown assailant.
- 1975: says a friend came to the house, got high, fell asleep and wouldn’t wake. He claims he asked Dawn to wake his friend in the morning, left and upon his return home found his family murdered.
- 1975: makes four different claims, saying four separate people were responsible: Tony Mazzeo, Booby Kelske, Mr. DeGennaro and sister Dawn.
- 1975: confesses in court that he acted alone.
- 1979: admits to acting alone again in audio interview.
- 1986: claims Dawn shot father and was then killed by mother, then mother killed the other children before shooting herself. Says he then came home and shot his wounded mother in a rage.
- 1992: claims Dawn killed everyone and he only shot Dawn.
- 1993: says he was in the basement with a fictional brother-in-law and they raced upstairs when hearing the shots. After Ronald kills Dawn an unknown person zooms past them and out of the front door.
- 1999: tells parole board that unnamed other people committed the murders and he only killed Dawn.
- 2002: claims he and Dawn were responsible.
- 2005: says he killed parents, left house and returned to find Dawn had killed the kids and then admits to killing Dawn.
- 2007: claims he cannot remember the events of that night.
Traces of gunpowder were actually discovered on Dawn’s nightgown indicating she may have discharged a firearm but this line of inquiry was dropped after Ronald Jr. confessed.
112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, NY (The Amityville Horror)
(112 Ocean Avenue, America’s most famous haunted house)
The Haunting Of 112 Ocean Avenue
The Amityville Horror: A True Story is a book by Jay Anson, published in 1977 and supposedly based on real life paranormal experiences. The story of the Amityville Horror began with a massacre, the murder of the entire DeFeo family committed by eldest son Ronald Jr. Thirteen months after this grisly crime the Lutz family moved into 112 Ocean Avenue. 28 days later they fled the house, claiming to have been terrorised by paranormal phenomena.
(Photos of George and Kathy Lutz)
George and Kathy Lutz bought the house for the bargain price of $80,000 in December of 1975. The real estate broker informed the Lutzes that the property had been the scene of the DeFeo murders but after discussing the matter they decided it would not be an issue. Much of the DeFeo family’s furniture remained in the house, having been purchased as part of the deal for $400. Having learned about the history of the house a friend of George’s insisted that they have the house blessed. Father Mancuso arrived to perform the blessing as the Lutzes were unpacking their belongings. He entered a room on the second floor which had previously been the bedroom of Marc and John Matthew DeFeo. With the first flick of holy water he heard a masculine voice demand that he ‘get out’ and also claimed that he was slapped across the face despite no one being in the room with him. When leaving he failed to mention this incident to the Lutzes but later phoned George to advise him to stay out of the room. The call was cut short by static after which Father Mancuso allegedly developed a high fever and stigmata-like blisters on his hands.
Alleged Paranormal Experiences
- George would wake up at 3.15 am every morning and would later learn this was the estimated time of the DeFeo killings.
- The house was plagued by swarms of flies mid-winter.
- Kathy had vivid nightmares about the murders and their children began sleeping on their stomachs, the same position the bodies had been found.
- Kathy often felt a presence lovingly embracing her.
- George discovered a small hidden room in the basement, its walls painted red, that did not appear on the blueprints. ‘The Red Room’ had a profound affect on the family dog, who refused to go near it.
- Colds spots and odours of perfume and excrement appeared in areas of the house with no plausible source.
- An image of a demon with half its head blown off appeared burned into the soot at the back of the fireplace.
- Their 5-year old daughter developed an imaginary friend named ‘Jodie’, a demonic pig-like creature with glowing red eyes.
- George was often awoken by the loud sound of the front door slamming, a sound no one else in the family ever heard.
- George would hear the sound of a clock radio playing out of frequency but when going to investigate downstairs it would cease.
- George realised he looked much like murderer Ronald Jr. and began drinking at the bar where he had been a regular customer.
- When closing a window their daughter claimed ‘Jodie’ had climbed out of, Kathy saw red eyes glowing at her.
- Kathy received red welts oh her chest and was levitated two feet off the bed.
- Locks, doors and windows were damaged by an unseen force.
- The hoof prints of an enormous pig appeared in snow outside the house.
- Blood oozed from the walls and the keyhole of the playroom in the attic.
- A crucifix hung by Kathy revolved upside-down and gave off a sour smell.
- George tripped over a china lion ornament and was left with bite marks on his ankles.
- George saw Kathy transform into a 90-year old woman.
George and Kathy Lutz attempted a blessing of their own on January 8th 1976 and whilst in the living room George claimed he heard a chorus of voices saying “Will you stop?” In mid-January they experienced their final night in the house but declined to give a full account of the events, describing them as ‘too frightening’. They left to stay at Kathy’s mother’s house and claimed the phenomena followed them there. The mover that came to remove all possessions from 112 Ocean Avenue reported no paranormal activity whilst inside the house. Kathy died of emphysema in 2004 and George died of heart disease in 2006. The Lutzes story has been the subject of many books and nine films.
(Poster from the 2005 remake of the original 1979 Amityville Horror film)
The Amityville Horror: Truth Or Hoax?
The Lutzes story has always been disputed and subject to many investigations into its validity over the years. The disputes continue even to this day.
- The role of Father Mancuso has been given considerable attention. During a lawsuit surrounding the case he stated in an affidavit that the only contact he’d had with the Lutzes had been by telephone, but over the years he gave inconsistent accounts about the extent of his involvement and what he experienced.
- Claims of physical damage to locks, doors and windows were rejected by the next owners, arguing that they appeared to be the original items and in no way repaired.
- The ‘Red Room’ was shown to be a small closet in the basement and known to the previous owners since it was not concealed.
- Claims that the house was built upon ground that local Shinnecock Indians once abandoned the mentally ill and dying were rejected by local Native American leaders.
- The claim of hoof prints in the snow were rejected as weather reports show there had been no snow in Amityville on the day in question.
- Neighbours report nothing unusual during the time the Lutzes lived there.
- The book claims police officers visited the house but records show no sign the Lutzes called the police during their time in the house.
- Critics have pointed out changes that were made to the book as it was reprinted in different editions.
- William Weber claims the book is a hoax and refers to a meeting he had with the Lutzes in which they discussed what would later become the outline of Anson’s book. “We created this horror story over many bottles of wine.”
- The various owners of the house since the Lutz family left have never reported any problems whilst living there.
George Lutz maintained that events in the book were “mostly true” and denied any dishonesty on his part. In June 1979 George and Kathy took a lie detector test, conducted by two of the top five experts in the country for conducting lie detector tests at the time, relating to their experiences in the house. Both passed every question on the test.
Ghost Sighting Within 112 Ocean Avenue
The photo above is one of the most famous ghost sightings ever recorded. Gene Campbell, who was a professional photographer, was brought into the house in 1976 when the Warrens went in with their team to investigate the haunting. He set up an automatic camera on the 2nd floor landing that shot off infrared film, black and white, throughout the night. There are literally rolls of film with nothing on them. There’s only one picture of the little boy. When the picture was discovered the Lutz children were asked if they knew who this was. Daughter Missy, who had been aged 5 when they lived at the house, said it was the little boy she used to play with when they lived there.
You have wonderful memories of A HOUSE WHERE PEOPLE DIED? WTF.
Hahahahha, oh anon, you don’t understand why it’s so funny, do you?! It’s not the fact that people died there that makes it funny. It’s the fact that we sheepishly took pictures in front of the house at 112 Ocean Avenue to commemorate horror history a la The Amityville Horror (a movie I don’t even like). We smiled like it was Disneyland, and I kept saying “PEOPLE DIED IN THERE!” I guess it’s more wonderful memories for me and my friends because it was an epic weekend last December and we had the times of our lives!
But aside from that, my ms paint insensitivity skills are mad good.