Sunday, November 8, 2009

Amityville: 35 Years SInce the DeFeo Murders

This coming Friday the 13th will mark the 35th anniversary of the infamous night that 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr. stumbled into a bar near his home asking for help and stating that he thought his parents had been shot. He assembled a small group of people and led them back to his family's house. A horrific scene awaited them -- not only had his parents been shot, Ronald's four young brothers and sisters (ranging in age from 18 to 9) had been murdered as well. All of the family members had been shot as they lay sleeping in their beds. Ron DeFeo suggested that the murders were mob related, but confessed to the murders the following day when details in his story unraveled.

Oddly, all six members of the family were slain while laying face down in their beds, with no signs of any of them waking up from the sound of a rifle going off. Neighbors also did not report hearing the sound of the rifle despite evidence that a silencer wasn't used. Toxicology reports on the slain family failed to reveal the presence of any sedatives that could have kept the family asleep during the murders. Ronald Defeo's ever-changing claims about the murders have at times included accounts in which he had accomplices -- including his own 18-year-old sister (herself one of the victims), but there has never been solid evidence to show that anyone else but Ronald had been involved. Some believe that this strange aspect of the DeFeo murders points to Ronald having assistance in his crimes from a supernatural force.

Indeed, a little over a year later the Lutz family moved into the murder house and lasted only a mere 28 days in the home before fleeing it. Their tales of demonic haunting in the home led to the book The Amityville Horror (which in turn led to a book and film franchise), increasing the infamy of the former DeFeo house.

Ronald Defeo was convicted on all six counts of second degree murder and given six consecutive sentences of 25 years to life. He is incarcerated at Green Haven Correctional Facility in Beekman, New York. DeFeo has been eligable for parole for nearly a decade, but has been turned down for it each time he has applied. His family was buried in nearby Saint Charles Cemetery (see Saint Charles Cemetery, Farmingdale, NY).

Did DeFeo have accomplices in murdering his family? Are there people wandering free who helped him shoot his parents and younger siblings? Or was Ronald's accomplice something even more sinister and intangeable in nature?

Visit the Amityville Horror House and learn more about the controversies surrounding the home. You can also use Street View on our map to see the house as it appears today.

-Tom G