Ronald DeFeo, the ‘Amityville Horror’ murderer who killed his six family members in 1974 on New York’s Long Island, has died in prison.
DeFeo, 69, died Friday while serving a 25 years-to-life sentence at Sullivan Correctional facility in Fallsburg, New York, officials said. His murder spree inspired The Amityville Horror book and movie franchise.
DeFeo was transferred to Albany Medical Center and pronounced dead at 6:35 p.m. Friday. The Albany County Medical Examiner’s Office is expected to perform an autopsy to determine an official cause of death, but does not release the information except to relatives.
The state Department of Corrections said it could not disclose why DeFeo was hospitalized, citing health privacy laws, The Associated Press reported.
DeFeo, who was 23 at the time, used a .35-caliber Marlin lever-action rifle to slaughter the family, who were found lying face-down in their beds on Nov. 13, 1974.
Father Ronald DeFeo Sr., 43, and mother Louise DeFeo, 43, were both shot twice. Siblings Dawn, 18, Allison, 13, Marc, 12, and John, 9, were each shot once.
Flanked by two Suffolk County Homicide Squad detectives, 24 year-old Ronald DeFeo is led to his booking on multiple murder charges in Hauppauge, New York, on Nov. 11, 1974
View of the home of Ronald DeFeo Sr. The car salesman, his wife, two daughters and two sons were found shot to death in November 1974 by Ronald DeFeo Jr.
DeFeo’s attorney mounted an insanity defense, claiming he heard voices saying his family was plotting against him.
He was convicted in 1975 of six counts of second-degree murder and received six sentences of 25 years to life.
DeFeo, whose nickname was Butch, was scheduled for a parole hearing in July, online state Department of Corrections records said.
In a 2006 jailhouse interview, DeFeo claimed he only killed his father, his mother and his eldest sister, Dawn. The other siblings were murdered by Dawn before DeFeo killed her, he said.
Ronald DeFeo, pictured in a mugshot, said voices in the house made him kill his family. His lawyers used the claim in a failed insanity defense
Ronald DeFeo, Jr., is led from the Suffolk County Police Headquarter on Nov. 14, 1974 in Hauppauge, New York after being booked for six counts of homicide in the shooting of his family the day before
DeFeo, at right, with his siblings in an undated family photo
Ronald DeFeo’s family members, including Ronald DeFeo Sr., 43, and his siblings
Coroner’s office employees remove a body from the home of Ronald DeFeo Sr. after the car salesman, his wife, two daughters and two sons were found shot to death in 1974
The address of the home when the crimes occurred was 112 Ocean Ave., but was changed to 108 Ocean Ave. to discourage tourists.
A year after the killings, George and Kathy Lutz purchased the house, but left 28 days later after reporting paranormal activity. They said there were ‘strange sounds, voices and green slime oozing from the walls,’ real estate site 6sqft reported.
The events served as the inspiration for the 1977 book and 1979 cult classic film of the same name starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder and Rod Steiger.
John G. Jones wrote a sequel to the book, ‘The Amityville Horror Part II,’ that was published in 1982.
George and Kathy Lutz, former owners of the so-called haunted house in Amityville, New York, pose during a press tour for the book, ‘The Amityville Horror,’ in January 1979
James Brolin and Margot Kidder posing for a scene from film, ‘The Amityville Horror,’ released in 1979
A CBS Television advertisement for ‘The Amityville Horror’ from the Feb. 28, 1981, issue of TV Guide magazine
James Brolin and Margot Kidder in ‘The Amityville Horror’
A front view of ‘The Amityville Horror’ home of Ronald DeFeo Sr.
The film spawned several spinoff versions, including a 2005 remake of the original that starred Ryan Reynolds, Melissa George and Philip Baker Hall.
Other movies based loosely on the crimes and the paranormal claims include Amityville: The Final Chapter; Amityville: The Evil Escapes; The Amityville Curse; Amityville: The Horror Returns; Amityville: The Nightmare Continues; and High Hopes: The Amityville Murders.
The 1927 Dutch Colonial home underwent renovations after Caroline and David D’Antonio purchased it in 2010 for $950,000.
In 2016, the 5,000-square-foot, five-bedroom home went on the market for $850,000 and was purchased months later by an unnamed buyer.
Ronald DiFeo, right, is pictured with his four siblings, who he later killed
Dawn DeFeo, left, was 18 when she was killed and brother John was 9 at the time of his death
Sister Allison DeFeo, left, was 13 at the time of her death and brother Marc was 11
Mother Louise Brigante-DeFeo was killed by her son at age 42 while dad Ronald Sr. was 43
Ronald DiFeo is pictured in an undated family photo with his father, also named Ronald