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Daily History

October 14 1975 Trial begins in Amityville murders

On October 14th 1975, Ronald DeFeo Jr. went on trial for the killings of his parents and four siblings in their Amityville, New York, home.

The family’s house was later said to be haunted and served as the inspiration for the Amityville Horror book and movies.

On the evening of November 13, 1974, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. entered an Amityville bar and told people his parents had been shot inside their home.

Several bar patrons accompanied DeFeo back to his family’s home, at 112 Ocean Avenue, where a man named Joe Yeswit called Suffolk County police to report the crime.

When officers arrived, they found the bodies of Ronald DeFeo Sr., age 43, his wife Louise, 42, and their children Dawn, 18, Allison, 13, Marc, 11, and John, 9.

The victims had been shot dead in their beds.

Ronald DeFeo Jr., 22, initially tried to say the murders were a mob hit; however, by the next day he confessed to committing the crimes himself.

One aspect of the case that puzzled investigators was the fact that all six victims appeared to have died in their sleep, without struggle, and neighbours didn’t hear any gunshots, despite the fact that the rifle DeFeo used didn’t have a silencer.

When DeFeo’s trial began in October 1975, his attorney argued for an insanity defence; however, that November, he was found guilty of six counts of second-degree murder and later sentenced to six consecutive sentences of 25 years to life in prison.

DeFeo, who gave conflicting accounts of his story over the years, later claimed his sister Dawn and two other accomplices were involved in the murders.

The DeFeo house was sold to George Lutz, who moved in with his wife and three children in December 1975.

The new owners resided in the house for 28 days, before they fled, claiming it was haunted by the spirits of the DeFeo family.

Critics accused George Lutz of concocting the story to make money, but he maintained he was telling the truth.

In 1977, Jay Anson published a novel titled The Amityville Horror. The book became a best-seller and inspired a 1979 movie of the same name, as well as a 2005 remake.

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About Craig Hill

Social Justice Campaigner, Writer, Teacher and Business Consultant. Lived in China and USA. Dealing with disability. My articles have been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and many other international publications. Please consider donating, to support our social justice campaign, by clicking on the "Donations Page" button in the top menu.


3 thoughts on “October 14 1975 Trial begins in Amityville murders

  1. I had no idea the movie was based around a true story, nice story Craig. 😀

    Posted by Jaz | October 14, 2012, 00:11
  2. Reblogged this on humanitysdarkerside and commented:
    I remember reading “The Amytiville Horror” as a teen-ager. It had me freaked out. After that the house on the cover of the book was part of nightmares for a long time. Good book. I haven’t seen the movie. I like having background information on books that I have read. Getting it the lazy way is nice. Once again thanks to Craig Hill for providing links and info for later reviews.

    Posted by humanitysdarkerside | October 14, 2012, 18:49
  3. My family has a connection to this trial. The brother of one of my mother’s closest friends was with him right before the murders. He testified in the trial and visited Ronnie in prison for decades. Also, my uncle was in boy scouts with him and events were often held at the house.

    Posted by amandalovesmovies | October 17, 2012, 04:06

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