The infamous murderer Ronald DeFeo who killed his family in Amityville back in the 1970s has died in state custody.
While most people have heard of the Amityville Horror killings, let’s take a quick look back at what happened. In the early morning hours of November 13, 1974 in the small Long Island town of Amityville, a brutal mass murder took place when 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo killed his entire family while they were sleeping (both parents and four siblings). It took just 15 minutes for him to kill all six family members with a .35-caliber Marlin rifle from his secret gun collection.
After the murders, DeFeo showered, got dressed, and headed to work at 6 a.m. But before leaving the house, he stashed his bloody clothes and the rifle into a pillowcase and threw it in a storm drain on his way to work at a local dealership.
Not long after he arrived at his job, he acted concerned that his father hadn’t show up for work so he called the house looking for him despite already knowing he was dead. Around lunch time, he was bored so he decided to spend the day with his friends and at the same time telling each of them that he couldn’t reach anyone at his house by phone.
At 6 p.m., he called a friend and said that someone had broken into the family home and shot his entire family. His friends arrived at the house and called the authorities. When asked by officers who he thought committed the murders, DeFeo named a mafia hitman called Louis Falini who he said had a grudge against him because of work he did for him at the dealership. At that point, DeFeo was put into protective custody.
However, the more the police searched the home, the more DeFeo’s story didn’t make sense. They found an empty box where the .35-caliber Marlin rifle should have been and they concluded that the victims would have died in their sleep as they were still wearing their pajamas (they were also all found face-down in their beds). Therefore, DeFeo must have been at home during the murders.
When police confronted him with their theory, he changed his story and claimed that Falini (the hitman) arrived at the house in the early morning hours and placed a revolver to DeFeo’s head and made him watch as the hitman and an accomplice murdered his family. But the story changed again and he finally admitted to the killings, stating that “Once I started, I just couldn’t stop” and “It went so fast”.
DeFeo's attorney attempted an insanity defense as he claimed that voices in his head told him to kill his family because he believed they were planning on harming him, but the jury didn’t buy it and he was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences. Interestingly, he has changed his story several more times since his conviction.
The 69-year-old DeFeo was serving his life sentences at the maximum security Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York. However, he was receiving treatment at Albany Medical Center for an illness when he died on Friday night (March 12th). While it’s currently unknown as to what caused his death, the Albany County Medical Examiner’s Office will examine the body.
The story has been the subject of several books, documentaries, and movies. Not to mention the fact that the house is rumored to be extremely haunted.