butch defeo

The Amityville Horror: A Tale of Murder and the Paranormal

The history behind the famous house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, Long Island, N.Y. is much more horrific than the classic 1970′s horror film which depicts paranormal events supposedly experienced by the Lutz family. The film was based on a book about the supernatural activity, written by Jay Anson and published in 1977.

George and Kathy Lutz moved into the house in December of 1975, with Kathy’s three children, Daniel, 9, Christopher, 7, and Melissa (Missy), 5. The house had been vacant for 13 months before the Lutzes purchased the Dutch Colonial, dubbed “High Hopes” by the previous owner, Ronald DeFeo, Sr.

What had occurred at “High Hopes” 13 months prior to the Lutz family moving in is more like a slasher movie than a ghost story.

Twenty-three-year old Ronald Defeo Jr., a.k.a. “Butch” burst into Henry’s Bar, on a Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m., November 13, 1974 with a shocking announcement: “You got to help me! I think my mother and father are shot!” A group of people from the bar went with Butch DeFeo to investigate the family’s home at the now-infamous 112 Ocean Avenue. What they found was a gruesome scene. All six members of his family were shot dead in their beds: his parents, Ronald DeFeo Sr, age 44 and Louise DeFeo, 42, sisters Dawn, 18 and Allison, 13, and brothers Marc, 12 and John Matthew, 9.

It would later be determined that the family was killed 3 a.m. that morning by a .35 caliber Marlin 336C rifle. Each member of the family was found lying on their stomachs in their beds. The parents suffered two shots each and each one of his brothers and sisters was shot one time each.

Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. first claimed that the murders were the work of a mob hitman. As investigators interviewed Butch DeFeo, they found that there were many inconsistencies in his story.  Butch DeFeo confessed to the murders the next day. Besides having the confession, the hitman named by DeFeo as the killer had a solid alibi. DeFeo even told police where he got rid of his bloody clothes and the murder weapon. DeFeo had casually gotten up and gone to work that morning, getting rid of the evidence on the way to his job.

The DeFeos were far from the perfect family. Father Ronald DeFeo Sr. was physically abusive towards his wife and children.

DeFeo Sr. worked for his father’s car dealership and allegedly had been stealing money from the business.

Juror Peggy Giambra recalls Butch DeFeo’s words on the stand: “I remember the chilling words of him saying that once he started, he just couldn’t stop.”

DeFeo Jr. was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder on November 21, 1975. He was given six life sentences and is incarcerated at Sullivan Correctional Facility, Beekman, N.Y.

When George and Kathy Lutz moved in and learned about their new home’s gruesome past, they decided to have a Catholic priest come and bless the house. As he attempted the blessing, the priest claimed that many flies appeared and that he heard a voice commanding him to leave.

The Lutzes also claimed that the front door suddenly blew off its hinges in the middle of the night, a pig with glowing red eyes appeared to them, Kathy claimed she was levitated two feet off her bed and that she received mysterious welts, George claimed Kathy’s appearance would change into that of an elderly woman with wrinkles and white hair and Kathy said she saw a demonic entity appear in the fireplace. The Lutzes described many other bizarre experiences while living at 112 Ocean Avenue.

According to Butch DeFeo, the Lutzes’ story was a fabrication, created to help the Lutzes out of debt. DeFeo’s lawyer William Weber admitted to help fabricate the story in the hopes that the tale would lead to a lesser sentence for DeFeo.

For example, the story of the demonic pig was supposedly based on the neighbors’ cat who DeFeo Jr. hated and called “a fat pig.” Another detail was that George Lutz used to wake every morning at 3:15 a.m., which is the time the murders occurred.

“Weber and the Lutzes started this whole thing,” DeFeo says. The strange tale of the supernatural was meant to be a financial arrangement between DeFeo, the Lutzes and William Weber.

“Amityville itself is just a story – the whole thing is a hoax,” DeFeo says. “The agreement was $850,000.”

However, DeFeo and Weber never got their share of the money. Instead the Lutzes took their story to writer Jay Anson.

“I knew them Lutzes weren’t stable. They double-crossed everybody, then took off and went to California,” DeFeo says.

Reporter Marvin Scott attended a seance at the infamous house, conducted by demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren.

Scott says: “ Lorraine Warren and I walked upstairs to the sewing room. Now, the sewing room was the location where there was reported the strongest presence. She started talking, and at one point, became a bit hysterical, saying, ‘Marvin, I hope this is as close to hell as I’ll ever get.’ I didn’t see anything oozing from the walls. I didn’t hear any strange voices.”

One year after the séance, Jay Anson’s book about the Lutzes’ experiences was published.

The Lutzes lived at 112 Ocean Avenue for 28 days before leaving, supposedly driven from the house by demonic forces. They left all of their belongings behind.

Sources: Wikipedia: The Amiltyville Horror and Ronald DeFeo Jr.

Documentary: “High Hopes: The Amityville Horror Murders” (2014)


Ronald “Butch” DeFeo pictured with his bride.
The top photo was taken on their wedding day. 

Defeo was convicted of murdering his family as they slept on November 13, 1974. 

Amityville Horror.

On the evening of November 14, 1974, police were called to a house in Amityville, Suffolk County, New York. There they discovered six dead bodies - the entire DeFeo family save one. Mother and father, two brothers and two sisters had been shot with a high-powered rifle as they slept in their beds. The only survivor, Ronald Junior (known as Butch), appeared distraught. When questioned, he suggested that the man responsible might be Louis Fatini, a Mafia mobster whom Butch claimed had a grudge against his father.

There were problems with this story. Butch was a hot-tempered young man, a drug addict with a known interest in firearms - he had once turned a loaded shotgun on one of his best friends. More to the point, on more then one occasion he had threatened to kill his father - the last occasion being less than a week before the killings. Although Butch provided a detailed alibi, some of it did not make sense.

Eventually the truth emerged. Early on the morning of November 14, Butch had taken his .35 calibre Martin rifle, gone to his parents’ bedroom and fired two shots into his father, two shots into his mother. He had then moved on to his brothers’ bedroom and killed both John and Mark with a single shot each. Finally he had entered the room where his sisters slept and killed them.

At his trial a year later, Butch’s counsel had attempted to enter a plea of insanity. Butch told the court: “When I get a gun in my hand, there’s no doubt in my mind who I am. I am god.” There was a clear evidence, however, that in the aftermath of the killing he had acted with considerable cunning - throwing his own bloodstained clothes down a storm drain was not considered by the jury to be the action of a madman. He was found guilty and sentenced from 25 years to life on all six counts of murder.