Amityville Horror killer Ronald DeFeo Jr. dies
March 15th, 2021
Ronald DeFeo Jr., who massacred his entire family in 1974 in their Amityville home while they slept, a case that gained national attention and spawned a book and a movie, died Friday while imprisoned, according to state prison records.
DeFeo, 69, was serving a 25-years-to-life sentence at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in upstate Fallsburg for each of the six slayings, records show.
A State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision spokeswoman said DeFeo was transferred to Albany Medical Center and was pronounced dead at 6:35 p.m. Friday. The cause of death will be determined by the Albany County Medical Examiner’s Office, the spokeswoman said.
The nature of the killings — DeFeo’s parents and four siblings were found dead in their beds, each with a single bullet in their back — and tales of angry spirits haunting the Dutch Colonial-style Ocean Avenue home in the aftermath, stunned Long Island and much of the country.
“If you grew up on Long Island,” said Joseph Giacalone, an adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan and a retired NYPD sergeant raised in Plainedge, “you knew about the home on Ocean Avenue.”
He said the killings’ lore was elevated with the 1977 novel “The Amityville Horror,” by Jay Anson, and the 1979 cult horror film of the same name starring James Brolin. The movie was based on claims by the Lutz family, who bought the house following the DeFeo murders, and said they’d been forced to flee after being terrorized by paranormal activities.
“As kids, we rode our bikes just to see the house like every other kid who grew up in the area,” Giacalone said. ” … The movie made it famous. You’d go down there as kids, not really understanding the gravity of it, but you heard about all the murders in the house.”
Police said DeFeo, 23 at the time, shot each of his family members with a .35-caliber Marlin Lever action rifle, police said.
The victims were DeFeo’s father, Ronald DeFeo Sr., 43, his mother Louise DeFeo, 42, and siblings Dawn, 18, Allison, 13, Mark, 11 and John, 9, according to newspaper articles at the time.
During his 1975 trial, DeFeo admitted the killings.
He was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder. State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Stark called the murders the “most heinous and abhorrent crimes.”
Courtesy of “Newsday.” To read the article in its entirety, click here.