Amityville Part One – The DeFeo FamilyCrime
This is a story with two parts so I will be doing two posts, exploring the background and beginnings in the first and the subsequent hauntings and legacy in the follow up
High Hopes – The House
Amityville is a small town in Suffolk County, New York. It’s name is born from an amicable agreement among it’s founders and, by all accounts, is a friendly place. 112 Ocean Avenue is a three storey mansion, it sits on a quiet street with access to South Oyster Bay at the rear, it has it’s own boat house and is, or was, completely ordinary (in a huge dream home kind of a way).
From 1965 the house was home to the DeFeo family, parents Ronald DeFeo Sr. (44) and Louise DeFeo (42) and their children; Ronald Jr (23), Dawn (18), Allison (13), Marc (12), and John Matthew (9). Ronald Sr. was the service manager at a local car dealership, a job that was said to be paid better than any other 3 General Motors service managers put together – due to Ronald being married to the owners daughter Louise.
13th November 1974 was a day like any other, Ronald Jr or ‘Butch’ had reported into work at the same dealership as his Father and commenced work in his usual lacklustre way. His second to youngest brother Marc had been booked into an appointment at a physiotherapist due to his being injured in a Football game leaving him wheelchair bound, leading to his Ronald Sr needing to be away from the office until around 3pm. At 2:30pm Butch had phoned home to see what was going on only to be welcomed by the endless ringing of an unanswered phone. He decided to head home shortly after.
He never went to work again.
Henry’s Bar – The Discovery
At 6:30pm that same day Butch ran into his usual drinking spot shouting “You got to help me! I think my mother and father are shot!”, a small group followed Butch back to the house where the Police were notified by Joe Yeswit – one of the search party – and subsequently the entire 6 members of the DeFeos were found lying on their stomachs, in their beds, with .35 calibre rifle wounds.
It was determined by the coroner that the murders had taken place at 3am, the parents had suffered two shots and the children one each. Due to the nature of the attack the Police took Butch back to the station for his own protection as, at the time, it was assumed to be linked to organised crime due Butch’s accusation of known mobster ‘Louis Falini’. Falini had allegedly ‘robbed’ DeFeo Jr while he was running the dealerships money to the bank and this was a follow up attack. The Police weren’t convinced.
After interviewing Butch the Police began to suspect him due to the inconsistencies in his story and the supposed links to organised crime and his family. The following day, unsurprisingly, DeFeo confessed to the murders stating, “Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. It went so fast.” Following the murders he had taken a bath, destroyed or discarded the evidence and went to work.
Rifle Shootings – The Oddities
During the trial it was claimed by DeFeos defence lawyer that Ronald had heard voices in his head that urged him to carry out the killings due to suffering from a dissociative disorder, the prosecution claimed that as he was an abuser of LSD and Heroin as well as having an anti-social personality disorder but he was entirely aware of the crimes being committed. In either case, it is clear that there was something very, very wrong with Ronald DeFeo Jr.
On November 21st 1975 he was sentenced to consecutive 25 year life sentences for the slayings.
Now – onto the oddities. All of the members of the family were shot and killed in the same position, laid on their front.
Nobody heard the gunshots, the rifle was not silenced (the Police has ascertained this from the injuries) and the neighbour hood was a quiet one.
The Police had thought that none of the victims had woken up during the shootings. There were no signs of a struggle and no sedatives were found in the bloodstreams of the family.
In Jail – The Sister
There is a theory that proposes the collaboration of Ronald Jr, his sister Dawn and two unnamed friends who took it upon themselves to exact some form of revenge after a ‘furious row’ with Ronald Sr. Jr took care of the parents while Dawn killed their younger siblings as they were deemed as witnesses to the crime.
Disgusted at what she had done, Ronald knocked out Dawn and placed her in her bed like the others and shot her.
This does sound far fetched BUT there was GSR found on Dawns nightdress suggesting she may have had some involvement but after the confession this was investigated no further…