Amityville Horror killer Ronald DeFeo Jr. dies in prison at 69
Ronald DeFeo Jr., who slaughtered his parents and four siblings in 1974, has died at the age of 69 in prison. The news of his death was confirmed by New York State officials.
DeFeo died on Friday while serving a 25-years-to life sentence at Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York. The convicted murderer was transferred to Albany Medical Center and pronounced dead at 6:35 PM. As of this writing, an official cause of death has not been determined and an autopsy performed at the Albany County Medical Examiner’s Office was in the process of being conducted.
DeFeo’s slaughter of his family began as a tragic story isolated to Long Island but eventually was given the Hollywood treatment because of how truly bizarre the circumstances were involving the murders and their aftermath. DeFeo, whose nickname was Butch, was convicted of killing his mother, father, two sisters, and two brothers inside of their Amityville home on Ocean Avenue on November 13, 1974. His family members were all in bed at the time that he used a .35-caliber Marlin lever-action rifle to kill his father Ronald DeFeo Sr., 43, mom Louise DeFeo, 43, and siblings Dawn, 18, Allison, 13, Marc, 12, and John, 9.
The Hollywood connection begins when, at trial, DeFeo’s lawyer mounted an insanity defense claiming that his client has been hearing voices in the house that were telling him that his family was plotting against him and that he needed to kill them. A year after the murders, George and Kathy Lutz purchased the DeFeo home but left 28 days later after reporting paranormal activity in the house, including “strange sounds, voices, and green slime oozing from the walls.” The events that the Lutz’s claimed they went through resulted in the 1997 book “THE AMITYVILLE HORROR” and, two years later, a horror film of the same name was released starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder as George and Kathy Lutz.
The Amityville Horror became a huge commercial success upon its release and grossed $86.4 million on a $4.7 million budget. Despite negative reviews from most critics at the time, The Amityville Horror has gone on to become a bit of a cult classic and it spawned several remakes and a remake in 2005 that starred Ryan Reynolds. The films have little to do with DeFeo murders and really focus on the paranormal angle that may or may not have been going on in the house and the overall tragedy of what happened to the family has been lumped in with a horror franchise that was purely motivated by box office receipts.
DeFeo was clearly a troubled individual. In a jailhouse interview in 2006, he claimed that he only killed his father, his mother, and his eldest sister, Dawn. The other siblings, according to DeFeo, were murdered by Dawn before DeFeo killed her, he claimed. Given the fact that all the victims were found face-down in bed, his theory of events has been disproven time and time again.
The DeFeo house went on the market in 2016 for $850,000 and went into contract months later. The original address of the home when the murders took place was 112 Ocean Ave. but it was eventually changed to 108 Ocean Ave. in order to discourage tourists. Between the salacious nature of the crime and the popularity of The Amityville Horror film franchise, the house became a destination for people that just wanted to catch a glimpse of where something so evil took place.