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The Amityville Horror

Today is October 14 and it was this day in history in 1975 that Ronald DeFeo Jr. went on trial for killing his family while they slept. Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. was emotionally troubled and his parents didn’t know how to handle it. After visits with psychiatrists, nothing seemed to change so for the lack of a better term, his parents enabled him. They bought him expensive toys including an expensive speedboat and cash, in hopes that these gifts would mollify the troubled youth. However, by the time Butch DeFeo became a young adult, he turned to drugs like heroin and acid and he as even expelled from school due to his violent acts.


Finally one night in November in 1974, Butch DeFeo snapped and used his new Marlin rifle to kill his parents and his siblings in their sleep. He then got rid of his clothes and the rifle and left the house to go to work at the family car business. He called his house a few times to make it look like he was calling his father. DeFeo left work early to hang out with some friends to establish an alibi and soon told them that he was concerned that no one answered the phone at home. Finally, he told them that he was going home to check on them. Once he was home, he called the police and said that his family was murdered.

Ronald DeFeo Jr. told the police that he had thought it was a mob hit because of some dealings his family had with the mob. However, his story began to unravel when the police found the box that the Marlin rifle had come in but there was no Marlin rifle to be found. DeFeo then said that he was there when the hit man came to the house and dragged him from room to room and made him watch as he shot the family. Butch DeFeo finally broke down after more questioning and admitted to killing them. His trial began on October 14, 1975 and his lawyers tried to get him off due reasons of insanity but the psychiatrist for the prosecution was able to prove that he wasn’t insane and when the trial was over, Butch DeFeo received six consecutive life terms in prison.

The Lutz family eventually moved into the DeFeo home in Amityville, New York. They subsequently moved out when George Lutz said his family was terrorized by the ghosts of the DeFeo family and in 1977, the book The Amityville Horror: A True Story was published. Critics of the Lutz’ family has said that they had made these stories of the hauntings up in order to make money but the family has always said that they were telling the truth.

There have been many books and movies regarding the DeFeo murders and the house in Amityville with the latest movie being released in 2005 and directed by Michael Bay. On a personal note, the Amityville Horror was the first and actually only book that I have read cover to cover in one sitting.

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