Ronald DeFeo, the convicted murderer who killed six relations and inspired the ever-growing “Amityville horror” franchise, died Friday, March 12th, The ny Times reports. He was 69.
Ronald Joseph DeFeo Jr. was an American murderer who was tried and convicted for the 1974 killings of his father, mother, two brothers, and two sisters in Amityville, Long Island, New York. Condemned to 6 sentences of 25 years to life, DeFeo died in custody in 2021.
DeFeo died during a hospital in Albany, New York, the NY State Department of Correction and Community Supervision confirmed. He had been serving a sentence of 25-years-to-life at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York, and had been taken to the hospital on February 2nd. An explanation for death has not yet been announced but is going to be determined by the Albany County coroner.
In 1974, DeFeo used a rifle to kill his father, Ronald DeFeo, Sr., his mother, Louise, his two sisters, Dawn and Allison, and his two brothers, Mark, and John Matthew. All six victims were found in their beds at the family’s range in Amityville, a town on the South Shore of Long Island, on November 13th, 1974. A year later, DeFeo was convicted on six counts of second-degree murder after confessing to the killings.
The case went on to inspire an array of books and films, starting with Jay Anson’s 1977 book, The Amityville Horror, which was followed in 1979 by Stuart Rosenberg’s film of an equivalent name. along side delving into the horrors of the DeFeo murders, many of those books and films have also drawn on the story of the Lutzes, the family that moved into the DeFeos’ old house and left after just 28 days, claiming the house was haunted.
Over four decades and countless adaptations later, the Amityville story retains a particular allure — to not mention, it’s essentially an unofficial “franchise” that’s copyright-free, as Amityville may be a real town, and both the murders and therefore the Lutzes’ alleged haunting are considered historical events and thus free from property claims. In 2020 alone, four different Amityville-related projects were released (though most of them, admittedly, were low-budget, direct-to-video affairs, just like the horror comedy, The Amityville Vibrator).
DeFeo was born into a generally well-to-do and non secular family, working together with his father at a car dealership in Brooklyn. DeFeo’s relationship together with his father, however, was reportedly strained, and therefore the younger DeFeo also had a reputation for using drugs, drinking and fighting. Following the murders, DeFeo reportedly visited a bar near his home and proclaimed his parents had been shot, while he also reported the deaths to the police himself.
After his confession, DeFeo’s six-week trial focused totally on why he administered the murders, with DeFeo’s court-appointed lawyer, William Weber, mounting an insanity defense. In 1992, however, DeFeo claimed Weber had pursued the insanity defense against his wishes — and he’d done so to potentially beat up interest in possible book or film deals.
“William Weber gave me no choice,” DeFeo told the days . “He told me I had to try to do this. He told me there would be tons of cash from book rights and a movie. He would have me call at a few of years and that i would inherit all that cash. the entire thing was a con, apart from the crime.”