Date of crime: 14th November 1974
Crimes: Murder of his family, in Amityville, New York - Ronald DeFeo Sr, 43; Louise DeFeo, 42; Mark DeFeo, 12; John DeFeo, 7; Allison DeFeo, 13; and Dawn DeFeo, 18.
Method: Shot with a .35 calibre Marlin rifle. Both parents were shot twice. The four children were killed with a single shot.
Sentence: Imprisonment for 25 years to life.
Interesting facts: After having killed his family, DeFeo continued his normal life, and went to work. He left early and went to a friend's house and then later the pub. He phoned home several times throughout the day, making it known to his friends that there was no reply. In the evening, he left the pub, and went home to find his parents dead. He returned to the pub and told everyone. It was a friend from the pub who phoned the police. When the police arrived, the other bodies were found.
At first, DeFeo was not arrested. He told the police that his family might have been killed by a mafia hitman, Louis Falini. Once they found empty gun boxes in his bedroom, he fell under suspicion. DeFeo was questioned many times, and each time told a different story. He eventually led them to the very spot where he had dumped the gun which he had used.
There is still much controversy over the DeFeo family murders. Ronald DeFeo Jr still protests his innocence, while it is suggested that he did not kill his family alone, but that his sister Dawn had a hand in it also. Police brutality to obtain a confession is also alleged, as is the deliberate mislaying of vital evidence by police. The debate still continues about the events that took place that night.
The popular films Amityville Horror are loosely based on the DeFeo family murder, and less loosely on the fictional story of the hauntings experienced by George and Kathy Lutz who lived in the house following these murders.
In association with amazon.co.uk
The Night the DeFeos Died by Ric Osuna
The Night the DeFeos Died by Ric Osuna. Find out about what really happened that night, and the real Amityville Horror. This book continues the debate, and includes details of some of the theories that abound. If you want to buy this book, click on the book cover.