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Ronald DeFeo Jr., The Family Killer Who Inspired 'The Amityville Horror,' Dies In Custody

Ronald DeFeo, 69, was convicted of killing his parents and four siblings at the family's Amityville home in 1974, a grisly tale that became the foundation for a popular book and film franchise.

By Jill Sederstrom

Ronald DeFeo Jr., the man whose brutal slayings of his parents and siblings inspired “The Amityville Horror” book and movie series, has died in prison custody.

DeFeo, 69, died at approximately 6:35 p.m. on Friday at Albany Medical Center, according to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.

DeFeo, known by the nickname Butch, had been serving a sentence of 25 years to life at Sullivan Correctional Facility after being convicted of six counts of second-degree murder for the 1974 slayings of his father Ronald DeFeo Sr., 43; mother Louise DeFeo, 43; and four siblings Dawn, 18; Allison, 13; Marc, 12; and John, 9.

DeFeo killed his family inside their Amityville home in suburban Long Island on Nov. 13, 1974.

Ronald Sr. and Louise were shot twice with a .35-caliber Marlin lever action rifle. His siblings were each shot once and found lying face down in their beds.

Ronald Defeo G

DeFeo later claimed at trial—while pursuing the insanity defense—that he had heard voices telling him to kill his family, but was ultimately convicted of the killings in 1975, according to NBC News.

A year after the murders, George and Kathy Lutz purchased the DeFeo's old home but fled after just 28 days, leaving many of their belongings behind, claiming it was haunted. Their account inspired the 1977 book “The Amityville Horror,” by Jay Anson, and the popular movie of the same name two years later.

The cult classic horror movie starred James Brolin and Margot Kidder as the doomed couple who encountered strange voices, furniture that moved on its own, and walls that oozed slime in their newly purchased home.

George Lutz later admitted that parts of the story, including the green slime, had been embellished but denied making the story up as part of a hoax to gain money or notoriety, as some have claimed, ABC News reported in 2006.

DeFeo tried to unsuccessfully get a retrial in the case in 1992 after claiming that his 18-year-old sister Dawn had killed most of the family members and he had only killed her, according to the Associated Press.

“I loved my family very much,” he said in a 1999 parole hearing.

He was reportedly hospitalized at Albany Medical Center for undisclosed reasons on Feb. 2. His cause of death will be determined by Albany County Medical Examiner’s Office, officials said.

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