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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.