The DeFeo family occupied the home at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York for nine years prior to the fateful day when six family members were murdered execution style. Ronnie, “Butch” DeFeo, 23 years old, murdered his parents, Ronald and Louise. Also murdered on November 13, 1974 were children Dawn, 18, Allison, 13, Mark, 11 and John 9. Later books and movies contribute to knowledge of the murders, decades later.
Twenty-three year-old Butch DeFeo rushed into a local bar, yelling for help, “I think my mother and father are shot!” Butch’s best friend and four other men drove Butch back home. According to The Amityville Files, the grizzly discovery of the murdered family led Joey Yeswit to call the police.
Police placed Butch in protective police custody after he claimed an alleged Mafia hit man, Louis Falini, who had previously lived with the DeFeo family, was responsible. Police returned to the crime scene, quickly discovering evidence pointing not to Falini, but to Ronnie DeFeo. A friend described him as a “gun fanatic.” Upon the discovery of a box of Marlin .35-caliber ammunition in Ronnie’s room, matching the alleged murder weapon, police read him his rights, to which DeFeo replied that officers should “Get Falini. He’s the guy you want. Not me.”
Investigation And Revelations
Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. was convicted as the sole killer. He told investigators that once he started shooting he could not stop. DeFeo Jr. was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. He later changed his story, claiming that his sister Dawn committed the murders and he killed her after the two got into a struggle.
Supervising police detective, Herman Race, hired by Butch’s grandfather Michael Brigante Sr. to investigate the heinous crimes, discovered evidence supporting Butch DeFeo’s claim that his sister took part in the murders. DeFeo also claimed two friends participated. The Amityville Murders points to the fact that “Race eventually uncovered evidence that showed there were multiple gunmen and at least two guns used…” The medical examiner and prosecutor were “astonished that one man sat accused of being the sole gunman.”
In a 2000 interview, DeFeo Jr. told author Ric Osuna, who wrote The Night the DeFeos Died, that after getting high in the basement, he, Dawn and two friends committed the murders. Butch stated that Dawn killed the children and that he was not in the house. When Butch returned, he saw what his sister had done. They argued, struggled for the gun and Butch killed her. Although he blamed Dawn for the murders, evidence shows that Butch did participate.
Hauntings: Fact or Hoax?
New owners George and Kathleen Lutz moved in with their three children in December 1976. After blessing the home and experiencing a supernatural event in the process, Catholic priest, Father Mancusco instructed the new owners not to use the northeast bedroom as a bedroom. They obliged, turning it into a sewing room. Slime and dead flies began occupying the home, family members suffered from chills and felt touches when no one was there. After several incidents of alleged haunting, the Lutz family vacated the home.
In 1976, paranormal expert Hans Holzer invited medium and friend, Ethel Johnson Myers to join him at 112 Ocean Avenue. Greatest Unsolved Mysteries describes Ethel entering into a trance-like state, stating that the home was constructed over a site designated as sacred by a Native American tribe. The home sat on the burial site of a beloved Chief, angering the Indians. She stated the murders were over the wrath of the infuriated Indian Chief. Ronald DeFeo Jr. was allegedly possessed.
Interviews with DeFeo led to the revelation that the family had experienced “all types of unexplained phenomenon” in the home. Whether the haunting of 112 Ocean Avenue is true or a hoax as many claim, six people lost their lives that fateful night in November 1974 when the Amityville murders occurred.