The Defeo family members
Allison Defeo - 13 years old at the time of death.
Dawn Defeo - 18 years old at the time of death.
John Defeo - 9 years old at the time of death.
Marc Defeo - 12 years old at the time of death.
Ronald Defeo Sr - 44 years old at the time of death.
Louise Defeo - 43 years old at the time of death.
Ronald Defeo Jr - (Butch). 23 years old at the time of murder
A house of dreams
The beautiful Victorian house sitting at 112 Ocean Avenue In Long Island,New York, was a complete dream house for the Defeo Family. With a finished basement,two floors,an attic,and even a boat house and swimming pool,the house was big enough to fit the entire family,and still have an enormous amount of space left over.
They even hung a sign that said "high hopes" in the front yard,displaying exactly how they felt about their home. Most people viewing this family from the outside would think they led a wondrous,happy life. After all, what more could they ask for? But,trouble was brewing beneath the surface,and the Defeo's often had a difficult time just getting along with one another.
Ronald Defeo Jr. (Also known as "Butch"),especially had difficulties getting along with his father. It is said that Mr. Defeo was a very strict father,and would not allow that which he considered intolerable behavior. As Butch got older,he also got bigger,and while Butch used to take his punishments quietly,he now was able to match his father in strength and would fight back. There were many occasions where they would shout,and even come to blows with each other.
In the weeks before the murder,Butch was working at his fathers car dealership. One day,he was sent by one of the other employee's to the bank. He was directed to deposit $1,800 in cash,and $20,000 in checks. Butch and one other employee left for the bank,and devised a plan. They would keep the money and split it between the two of them,telling the bank that they were robbed at gunpoint while waiting at a red light. A fool proof plan,at least as far as they saw it.
When they arrived back at the bank,the police were called. The boys were gone for 2 hours,and it was asked why they didn't return back to the bank right away after being robbed. This,and Butch's irritability with the police,led them to suspect that Butch Defeo was not telling the whole truth. Mr. Defeo did not beleive their story,and was not at all happy with his eldest sons actions. Days later,Butch agreed to look at some mug shots that the police had put together. However,he pulled out at the last minute,further infuriating his father. When confronting Butch about why he would not help the police,Defeo Sr. is noted as telling his son "You have the devil on your back".
"It all started so fast. Once I started, I just couldn't stop. It went so fast." - Ronald Defeo Jr.,on the murdering of his family.
The night of the murder
Around 3:00 AM on November 13,1974,Butch Defeo would murder his family members in cold blood. The story goes that he was in his bedroom getting high on drugs,when he came upon the decision to put an end to the lives of his mother,father,and 4 brothers and sisters. As he thought his plan over,he pulled from the closet a .35- caliber Marlin rifle. A very loud,and high powered gun,able to end lives with a single,well placed shot.
He headed first to his parents bedroom,where Robert and Louise both lay sound asleep in their bed,unaware of the danger creeping upon them. He took aim,and fired a single shot into his fathers back,tearing into his kidney. A second shot hit his spine,and lodged in his neck. Death was thought to be instant.
It is said that Louise likely woke up after hearing shots being fired in the room. Butch shot her dead before she had a chance to show much of a reaction,by aiming two bullets at her. One shredded its way into her ribcage,and the other collapsed her right lung. It is assumed that she also died an instant death.
His two younger brothers were next,and strangely enough,according to the their positions at the time of death,it seemed that they had slept right through the sounds of their parents being murdered. Butch stood between their beds,with John on one side and Mark on the other,and fired a single bullet into each child's sleeping body. Mark was instantly killed,but John twitched about on the bed for a few moments,a result of spinal cord damage.
Butch at this point had killed 4 out of six members of his family. Only his two younger sisters remained alive in the house,and he headed towards their bedroom without hesitation or even a feeling of remorse. As he entered the room,Allison heard him,and raised her head to look up. Within seconds,the girl lay dead,from a bullet to the face. Immediately afterwards,he shot his sister Dawn as well,causing extreme damage to her facial area.
Also a mystery,is the fact that no neighbors were reported to have heard any of the gun shots going off in the Defeo home that night. The only sound anybody noticed was that their dog,Shaggy,was barking abnormally loud outside by the boathouse.
"As far as I'm concerned, if I didn't kill my family, they were going to kill me. And as far as I'm concerned, what I did was self-defense and there was nothing wrong with it. When I get a gun in my hand, there's no doubt in my mind who I am. I am God." - Ronald Defeo Jr.
Ronald Defeo Jr's case finally went to trial almost an entire year after the murders took place. William Weber acted as Ronnie's attorney,and attempted to convince the jury that Ronald Jr. was not in his right mind when he committed the murders,basically using an insanity plea.
It is famously known that Ronald Jr. had quite a temper,and was a habitual liar. In fact,he had changed his story about the murder so many times,that anything he said was not to be taken seriously. Initially,he said that he had heard voices in his head telling him to kill the family.Then,at some point,he blamed his sister Dawn for helping murder the family. He blamed the mafia. And even suggested his own mother was involved. The insanity plea did not go very far with the jury,and he was found guilty of six counts of second degree murder. He was given six consecutive sentences of 25 years to life,leaving it very unlikely that he will ever have the opportunity to do harm to anybody ever again.
In December of 1975,George and Kathy Lutz,along with their 3 children, moved into 112 Ocean Avenue. The same home where the Defeo's were murdered in their sleep,only a little over a year before. According to interviews,the Lutz's knew before buying the home that the famous murder had taken place there.
They discussed what had happened with their children,and the family agreed together that they would not be bothered by what happened. As the movie says, "Houses don't have memories" They even decided to keep some of the Defeo's furniture,such as headboards,and a dining set. The reason they said was because the furniture was very nice,and better than what they already had. Not once did they think "maybe I shouldn't keep this stuff in the house".
At first the family had no real issues with their new home. George and Kathy both felt that they were skeptics of all things paranormal before their experience,so even any small occurrences probably were brushed aside as mere coincidence. However,as the days went on,it seemed that paranormal activity was on the rise. Someone,or something, didn't want them in that house.
The family later reported several strange things as happening on a regular basis within the home. There were many times when they would notice a strange,black substance seeping out from the key holes,a substance that George often explained to have been like epoxy. Also a jello like substance was also found on a few occasions,scattered about the floors in the house. They thought at first that the children were making the mess with some sort of substance that they mixed together,but realized that due to other circumstances,the children could not have done it. George began waking up in the middle of the night,with the urge to check on the boathouse. He would lock it,and upon checking again some time later,would find that the doors would be unlocked and swinging open.
The house had many cold spots as well,and in general,the house was very cold at times. The furnace would be running,but there would be 40-50 degree differences compared to what temperature they had put the thermostat on. On top of that,there seemed to be a fly infestation. Now keep in mind,this was the middle of winter. And the flies only were found in one room. George and Kathy said that it was hundreds of flies,and killing them did no good....because they always came back.
Much to their surprise,their daughter,Missy, had what seemed to be an imaginary friend. She referred to this friend as "Jodie". They felt that it was fairly innocent,until the friend told her that her and her family were going to live there forever. Supposedly the friend could take on many forms,and presented itself to George one night,in the form of what appeared to be a pig with glowing red eyes.
Even stranger things began occurring as time went on. The family began to change emotionally from the way they once were before moving in. It was as if the house was changing them into different people. George even stopped going into work,because he felt as though he just didn't want to leave the house. He later told the public that after they left the house for good,and discussed the things that happened,each and every family member had different feelings and experiences within the home.
One night he woke up to find his wife levitating off the bed,and had to physically pull her back down. Even worse,he watched her transform right before his eyes into an old,wrinkly woman,with gray hair. She also saw the transformation in the bedroom mirror,and was quite frightened. By morning,her looks had returned to normal,as though it never happened.
Another odd occurrence is that when they had the house blessed by their priest,he told them not to use the one room on the second floor as a bedroom. He told them that he had a strange feeling in there,and that they could use the room,but to leave the door open,and not to sleep in there. The priest did not tell them at the time,but the day after,he suffered unexplainable welts and blisters on his hands. Also,he has confirmed in an interview that a very deep voice yelled from behind him to "get out". One reason he may not have told them right away is that they had a hard time communicating with the priest. Any time that they tried to contact him by telephone,the call would be ruined by static.
Some of the things that went on in the house were never ever mentioned to the public by any member of the family. They refused to discuss certain aspects of the final night that they stayed,only letting it be known that there were a lot of bad things going on that night. After staying for 28 days,the Lutz family decided they needed to get out.
They didn't intend to never come back,so they left their belongings there and went to stay with Kathy's mother. They only wanted their home to be fixed,and had hoped to move back in as soon as possible. But they never did come back. Paranormal experts felt that the house was unfix-able, without endangering the lives of anybody who tries to rid the home of its demons. The Lutz's auctioned off some of their belongings,and had friends gather some of the more important items. And they moved on with their life,only to find that the public had a huge interest in their story. Books and movies soon followed,all of which became very,very popular.
Was it a Hoax?
Many people have accused the Lutz family of making up the whole thing just so they could make money. However,if you know all of the details,it appears that the family really did not profit a whole lot from any of it. The movies dramatized the whole experience for better viewing, and some of the things in the movies never actually happened,or were even said to have happened by anybody in the house. Until the day they died,George and Kathy stood by their original stories.
None of the other families that have lived there have reported anything strange. However,it is likely that even if there was anything happening,the families would probably keep silent about it after seeing the public hassle the Lutz family about their experience. The Lutz family kept many of the Defeo's furniture items. This seems possible that it could have caused a sort of energy just in having the murdered families belongings. Something that also seems strange to many,is how much Ronald Jr.,and George Lutz look alike. Maybe the spirits of the murdered family actually confused George with Ronnie Jr,and could be why the Lutz family was the only family to experience the hunting's. Or,maybe the Lutz's were just more sensitive to the paranormal world. We may never know for sure. Each and every one of us have our opinions,and whether it's true or not,we do know that a terrible tragedy occurred there. And maybe,just maybe,houses actually do have memories.
The actual house still stands today,but many changes have been made since the time of the hunting's. The famous windows that looked like eyes have been removed. The pool is no longer there,and the house has been painted. It also is rumored to have been remodeled drastically on the inside. Even the address has been changed,but it still does not deter people from trying to get an up close look at the famous Amityville home.
The Lutz family
In 2013 Danny Lutz, who was 10 at the time when his family moved into the Amityville home (after the Defeo murders) spoke up for the FIRST time about what he experienced first hand during his time there. He confirmed personal experiences of levitation, demonic possession, signs of poltergeist activity, cold spots, etc. The family dog he recalls was not itself, and would even practically hang itself trying to escape the property. He even said that he knew something was not right about the house within just hours of moving in. Activity would get worse every night at exactly 3:15 AM, without fail. His parents have since passed, but he still holds to his story of what went on there, and he has no interest in making money off of his story. So what does he have to gain? Nothing, besides being heard by those who wish to hear it.
This link has a lot of the interviews that George and Kathy did. Very imformative for anybody interested in learning more.
tr4400 on September 29, 2015:
This I must, I personally could not live in a house where someone has been murdered because whether it was haunted or not really wouldn't been relevant to me because once it went to bearing on your mind it would be un telling what could form in your mind and imagination and from there the pleasure of living there would slowly be taken away from wanting to live there.
Melissa Reese Etheridge from Tennessee, United States on April 15, 2015:
Well, this has certainly scared me. This is a well written Hub.
Dawn on June 18, 2014:
Okay, I'm listening to the book on CD. I want to believe in the story but to be honest, if I had been in the house that long with doors torn off their hinges and windows ripped out of their casings, I think I'd have pictures! Lots of pictures! Didn't they have insurance? How did they pay for the repairs to the house? Wouldn't they want proof that this stuff happened? In 1976, there were cameras, 35mm and Polaroid. While you are out buying tons of wood to burn and groceries to feed three kids, buy a GD camera!
Allen Hall on May 19, 2014:
It's funny how places are haunted until the video cameras come out. If you have a ghost or a ghoulie just rig up some cameras. They seem to be terrified of the things.
salim mirza on April 03, 2014:
he is like a world off biggest story never become again in the world i m so sad about this story
linda bates on January 18, 2014:
I will help the defeo family because all people killed in the house
Amity Ville scary house don't go inside the house all people killed
I am helping out about the house victims into believing the house
Demons of people are killed in the house stop buy the house anymore
anonymous on September 21, 2013:
There could be another explanation for the Amityville haunting. Its called sonic laser technology by the government. A house is targeted from nearby and all the occupants in the house can be seen and heard with this technology. This is invisible surveillance or spying. The victim or victims dont know they are being spied on. Not only that,this technology can cause its victims to see things and to hear things and to feel things. This technology can simulate a haunting and can trick its victims into believing the house is either haunted or infested by demons. This is scary.
anonymous on September 20, 2013:
So many different things have been written about and said about th Amityvill haunting that it will never be known what is true and what is false. Too many contradictions and disagreements. It could be a total hoax or a partial hoax or much of it could be true. Its often dismissed as a hoax because after the Lutz family left the house there was no supernatural activity. At least none that Im aware of. Maybe the haunting was intended just for the Lutz family and thats why there is no more paranormal activity in the house. If its real then how does one explain it? Here are some theories. Some of the events could have been natural and not supernatural. For instance. Houseflies in the dead of winter could have a natural explanation. According to the novel and movie, The Amityvill Horror, the houseflies in the dead of winter has demonic undertones. The Devil or demons are believed by some to manipulate insects to annoy people. Flies are one of the symbols of the Devil representing filth, decay, disease, death, decay. A window falling on the hand of the boy could be just a worn out window and not necessarily a demon who is responsible. Jodie the pig could have been just a cat peering in the window. If its supernatural, then here are the possibilities. Author Hanz Holzer says its ghostly phenomena but not demons. Author Holzer believes the haunting was caused by the spirit of an angry Indian chief long dead. The house stands on Indian burial ground and the Indian chief is trying to tell them to "Get off my land." Another theory is that Satanist John Ketcham lived in this house a very long time ago. More recent theories say that the haunting was caused by George Lutz himself. George Lutz may have dabbled in Satanic rituals and the occult and this invited evil or demonic spirits to enter their home. Rumours exist of a painted red room in the house where Satanic rituals occured. The wife, Kathy, levitated and her face turned into a wrinkly repulsive hag. Jodie the demon pig appeared to Missy. Pigs are said to be another symbol of the Devil and as one of the forms demons manifest in. On one occasion, both George and Kathy saw Jodie. Jodie was described as an angel who took the form of a pig and who mostly communicated with Missy. In the 1979 movie of the Amityville Horror, Jodie invisibly swings a rocking chair and communicates with Missy(only Missy can hear Jodie) and locks a babysitter in the closet. In another scene the glowing red eyes of Jodie are shown peering from an outside window inside the house. A visiting priest in the movie suffers from a welt on his wrist and suffers from coughing fits. Its implied that demons are directly causing the suffering. Author Jay Anson wrote the novel of The Amityville Horror and the novel 666. Jay Anson, George and Kathy Lutz have passed away. Only the Lutz children remain. Maybe what they experienced was subjectively real. Maybe it was hallucination. They also heard things such as the sound of a marching band and objects in the house would either be moved or disappear. It sounds like either poltergeist activity or demonic activity. It seems that Satanic rituals and occult rituals caused this haunting.
Kate on October 07, 2012:
There was gunpowder on her (Dawn) because sadly she was shot at very close range.
Denise on October 04, 2012:
Me, Myself and I would love to spend a night or a week there. I would love to see or hear something. This is something that I would love. I hate that this happened to these families but would love to stay there.
ray on September 23, 2012:
i think that for one, the fact that gunpowder was found on the body of dawn defeo should be addressed.. there was evidance that there was a second shooter and tons of proof that there were arguments between dawn defeo and the rest of her family. why hasn't this ever been addressed before???
Gail Louise Stevenson from Mason City on September 01, 2012:
I saw the movies of the Amityville house, and they sure were scary! It sounds true to me, too. The Amityville house is really fascinating and great subject matter for hubs. I believe the part about the priest and the flies, and probably the rest of it. Demons are scary and evil. Great hub!
Lisa (author) from Pennsylvania on August 31, 2012:
Laura,I have a lot more than a passing interest in the case and have read a lot about it,I apologize for the fact that you felt a need to mention that in the way that you did.. I'm not sure why the age said 17,maybe I was tired? Not sure,as this was quite some time ago when I wrote it,but I changd it to reflect his correct age.
Ghost Conference from San Diego, CA on March 21, 2012:
Wonderful article. I've often wondered about that photo of the little boy. It certainly doesn't look "ghostly" and I always wondered if it has been authenticated. Thanks for sharing all this great info.
Laura on February 21, 2012:
No offense, but Ronnie Jr. was NOT 17 at the time AND you spelled "separating" wrong. Please don't write about a subject you only have a passing interest in..this was a real family and the facts are being distorted.
sarah . on December 13, 2011:
deepthinker76 from South Carolina on May 30, 2010:
This is shockingly close to what I went through in 2006! Creepy but true! I know this stuff hapens cause it happened to me. You should read my blog! It is creepy how close the two sound. I have chills thining about it. Great article..I enjoyed readin it. THANK YOU
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on April 05, 2010:
Very creepy story but it sounds true.
LauraJayne1984 from England, United Kingdom. on April 05, 2010:
This is a very scary story, one that i believe to be 100% true! i personally couldn't live in a house where a family was murdered!!
That is asking for trouble if you ask me!!
This has to be the work of the Devil himself!!! how else can we explain all those shocking incidents???? i feel bad that the Lutz family had to go through what they did, and not be able to rid the house from it's Demons!!! This has made me believe in the Paranormal even more, and i am now sure i want to start my career as a Paranormal Expert!!
Very scary article!!!!!!!!!
TrixieGator on April 03, 2010: