By M.P. Pellicer (Stranger Than Fiction Stories)
One of the most researched, but still mysterious and bizarre cases is the dark happenings at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville. It started in the early morning hours of November 13, 1974.
Ronald "Butch" DeFeo Jr., 23, executed his entire family with his rifle, at least this why he spent the rest of his life in prison.
His parents, two sisters and two brothers were found dead face down in bed. Strangely none of the family was awoken by the shots ringing out in the silence that reigns inside a home at 3 a.m. An autopsy confirmed there were no drugs in their systems.
None of the neighbors heard anything either, except the barking of the DeFeo's dog.
In 2002, Ric Osuna released his book The Night the DeFeos Died: Reinvestigating the Amityville Murders. He described the obstacles the defense team encountered in gaining access to evidence, and the police department's insistence that only Butch DeFeo committed the crime. Osuna advocated for the case's reopening, not to exonerate DeFeo, who died in March 2021, but to established who was actually involved in the killing of the family besides him.
From the beginning there have been questions that the massacre was carried out by more than one person.
Osuna wrote that DeFeo killed his parents along with the help of a friend, but his 18-year-old sister Dawn was the one who killed their younger siblings. DeFeo then killed her after he saw what she had done, since this was not the original intent of the plan.
Dawn had a boyfriend who she wanted to move to Florida with, even though her parents disapproved. This was confirmed by an affidavit he signed in 1974. She had even penned a song, The Night the DeFeos Died, in which she fantasized about the murder of her family.
The DeFeo family moved into the Amityville home in 1965, but even before then Ronald DeFeo was a violent abuser of his wife and children. On November 12, Ronald DeFeo attacked his entire family, leaving the youngest, only 9 years old, with a bloody face. Dawn tried to defend herself with a knife. Prior to this Butch DeFeo had engaged in fist fights with his own father. Did Dawn convince her brother he had to kill their parents after this last violent encounter? Their mother, even though a victim always sided with her husband.
Some wonder if the family's ties to organized crime had something to do with their deaths. Louise DeFeo's father, Michael Brigante, Sr. was an associate of the Gambino crime family. Ronald DeFeo and Butch worked at the Brigante's dealership.
Later Butch described where he and his girlfriend assisted in disposing of bodies for the mafia.
However killing children goes against the code of the Italian mafia.
According to Osuna, Dawn was left to watch the bedroom where their younger siblings were sleeping while he along with his friend Bobby Kelske kill his parents. Dawn fearing witnesses, took matters into her hands and killed her brothers and sister. Butch horrified by his sister's actions, shot her.
In Osuna's book he points out crime scene photos with blood stains in places which do not coincide with the story that all the DeFeos were killed in their beds. A bullet with a different caliber than the one used by Butch DeFeo was found in the marital bedroom.
Osuna believes that Butch, who abused drugs and alcohol confessed as the sole culprit due to a forced confession by the police. The judges involved in the trial rejected evidence this had occurred, despite the prosecutor and police admitting on more than one occasion that the crime required three persons to carry it out. Herman Race a retired police detective also came to the same conclusion.
At the time of the murder, Butch had a wife named Geraldine with whom he had a daughter. He later denied they were married. Ironically Butch became like his father in the way he treated those around him.
According to Osuna, Butch DeFeo's attorney William Weber, desperate because he was denied access to evidence, cooperated in the planning of the infamous haunting experienced by the Lutz family when they moved into the Amityville house.
Geraldine DeFeo said Weber hoped it would help Butch's defense. He was not only involved with the Lutzes and Jay Anson who wrote the 1977 novel, but Father Pecoraro who was eventually transferred to an entirely different diocese, where he purportedly was forbidden to practice certain Catholic rites.
In the lawsuit Lutz vs. Weber, it described a different story about Father Ralph Pecoraro a.k.a Father Mancuso than the one found in Jay Anson's novel. In the book Lutz had supposedly met Father Pecoraro even before he married Kathy. During the trial George and Kathy describe where they met the priest in mid to late July 1975, and they had married on July 4, making it impossible he offered any guidance to the couple before their marriage.
Father Pecoraro claimed in an affidavit that his only contact with the Lutzes was a telephone call. He denied any of the supernatural occurrences described in the novel. There is doubt that he even visited the house. Father Pecoraro is now deceased.
It was at this time that Ed and Lorraine Warren investigated the claims of supernatural activity inside the home.
Kathleen Theresa Lutz (October 13, 1946 – August 17, 2004) died of emphysema and George Lee Lutz (January 1, 1947 – May 8, 2006) died of heart disease. The couple had divorced in the late 1980s, but remained on good terms.
James Cromarty, 77, bought the house in 1977. By that point, a bank had foreclosed on the house from the Lutzes. After living in the house ten years, he said, ""Nothing weird ever happened, except for people coming by because of the book and the movie."
He sold the house in 1987 to Peter and Jeanne O'Neill, who in turn sold it in 1997 for $310,000 to Brian Wilson. It went on the market in 2010 listed for $1.15 million.
Jay Anson died in 1980, a year after the release of his novel, The Amityville Horror. He died after heart surgery; he was working on another novel, 666 that dealt with the occult.
Was there anything supernatural inside the walls of the house on Ocean Avenue, or perhaps this was something the DeFeo family with their dark history brought with them? Whatever the case, the truth was taken to the grave by all the players.
The address of the house was change from 112 to 108 Ocean Drive.
Source - ElPais
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer