The Case Behind the Amityville Horror

Written By: Alexis

Trigger Warning: Death of Children, Mentions of Child abuse,

112 Ocean Avenue was built in 1924 and is most likely, one of the most notorious “haunted” houses in the world.



When people hear, "Amityville Horror", they most likely think of the Lutz family's claims of experiencing strange and terrifying things in the house. Even psychic mediums and paranormal investigators who have been to the house have also supposedly sensed a malicious presence and claimed it is cursed. However, others say this is all a hoax.


The Lutz family moved into the home that had come at an EXTREMELY discounted price which might of been the result of the massacre that had taken place there.


In the history of the home there weren’t any reports of hauntings until after the murders that were carried out by Ronald DeFeo Jr. on November 13, 1974. It is said that the ghosts of the 6 Defeo family members who were killed that night, are the ones who still haunt the home today.


The Night of the Massacre


The fear that fills the home today is not new but previously had been for Ronald's, "Ronnie's", father due to his abusive behavior toward his family. Even friends of the family were afraid of him and Ronnie DeFeo Jr. had always been a, "troubled individual", as a result of living in the abusive environment.


The DeFeo household was terrorized by Ronald Sr. day after day. He was an asshole who usually took out his rage on Ronnie Jr and his mother. To cope, Ronnie Jr. took to drugs hard drugs like heroin, LSD and meth as well as alcohol.




Everything came to a breaking point at 3:15am on that November morning when Ronnie Jr shot Ronnie Sr., Louise, John-Matthew, Marc, Allison, and Dawn DeFeo. The murders were investigated by police but experts now feel that there are key pieces of evidence and details that have been overlooked. For example, all family members were found in the exact same position when their bodies were discovered. Husband and wife Ronald DeFeo, Sr. and Louise DeFeo had both been shot twice with a .35 caliber Marlin 336C rifle; the four children — Dawn, Allison, Marc, and John Matthew — were each shot once. All six victims were found by police in their beds, lying on their stomachs. It’s estimated that the whole massacre took a mere 15 minutes from start to finish.



Originally, 23 year old Ronnie Jr. wasn't a suspect, but this changed when police overheard Ronnie's grandfather advising him to confess and stop talking about his sister. Locals already heavily suspected him and this pushed Ronnie to confess to the murders. He describes waking up at 3:23 am and for reasons unknown, deciding to kill his family. He claims he was not self aware during the murder and that the weapon he used should of been audible for 5 blocks in the town, he had shot his family 9 times.


The autopsy revealed that the bodies had not been moved after death, meaning each had remained in that position as the others were shot. This led police and investigators to believe that there were two shooters since there would be no way for him to shoot all of his family members without waking them.

Ronnie later explained from his prison cell that the devil made him commit the murders and that a priest who had been watching his, "performance" in the courtroom felt that he was possessed by a demon.


Dr. Daniel Schwartz, the prosecutors psychiatrist, interviewed Ronnie and also felt that he was not fully aware of his actions during the murder and could not understand the nature of his actions but more likely due to his mental health. Weber, Ronnie’s attorney, decided for an insanity plea. Ronnie supposedly had taken drugs watching a war movie and he claims hearing his family whispering they were going to kill him. When he would testify Ronnie would often say, "a female with black hands gave me a rifle and I went and shot everybody". He claims this hooded demon convinced him to kill his family.


The jury felt Ronnie DeFeo Jr. was of sound mind and found him guilty for all 6 deaths.


Something Is Not Right


Not everything lined up however, and many were left feeling there were gaping holes in the investigation. It is questionable and a spooky detail that none of the family members seemed to have put up a struggle against Ronnie Jr. and went along with his plan willingly to kill them since they were not placed how they were found.


Additionally, the weapon Ronnie Jr. used was an extremely loud rifle without a silencer that should of alerted anyone nearby as Ronnie pointed out but later neighbors could not recall hearing any gunshots, only the DeFeo's dog barking.


Another thing experts and conspiracy theorists alike have pointed out is that the DeFeos were Italian and Catholic, starting rumors that the DeFeos were involved with the mob. Investigators felt this rumor had enough validity that they looked into the possibility of the murders being related to the mob but could not find any evidence supporting this theory. But this theory did make police comfortable enough to to rule out the possibility of a second killer or accomplice.


A New Theory


Over time more information has come to light and offers another theory to the list more based on secondary professional opinions and eye witness accounts. Herman Race, an criminalistics expert, argues that the autopsy was incorrect and some of the bodies had in fact been moved. He also felt that multiple weapons were used in the murders.



Many years later, Journalist Rick Muran was contacted by a DEA officer that would support the theory that there were multiple shooters in the home that night. The officer claimed to have seen Dawn DeFeo leave the house with the rifle the morning of the shooting and then saw her drive to a dock exactly where the weapon was found by police dogs later on. This pushes the theory that in fact Ronnie's sister Dawn had been the one to carry out the murders with Ronnie's help as he had been extremely intoxicated and Dawn was found to have gunpower on her clothing. Together they possibly plotted to kill their parents and either Ronnie helped kill the family or he was too intoxicated to assist so Dawn killed them all on her own. This theory is further fuels when it is pointed out that Ronnie and Dawn were felt to have a special connection that was sometimes mistaken to be romantic.


LUTZ’S CLAIMS: A year after the trial, the Lutz’s bought the DeFeo home.


Initially there were no red flags upon seeing the home, though it was extremely discounted, they never suspected anything spooky or horrifying had taken place there. But within just hours of moving in, George Lutz claims the family dog tried to hang himself by jumping over the fence with a too short leash.


Disturbed by this incident, they invited a priest to come and bless the house. As he went around the home he felt uneasy in the upstairs bedroom, sensing something was in that room and was also suddenly slapped by an unknown force. He suggested to the Lutz family that they avoid the upstairs bedroom and to use the sewing room instead because of his experience.


Things continued to spiral and George felt he was unable to sleep at night, waking up at 3:15 am when he did, the same time the murders had taken place. George also noticed he was undergoing personality changes and couldn’t get warm. Kathy Lutz felt she was embraced by a woman which disturbed her deeply and the couple noticed there were swarms of house flies in different rooms. There would be disembodied screams and footsteps and they noticed their china turned black.


Then, they grew concerned about their daughter Missy.


Missy had made an imaginary friend named “Jodi” that presented itself to Missy as a large pig. Jodi, unclear if it is a boy or girl, said it was very happy Missy would be staying at the house forever, which the family found disturbing.


They fled the house in January 1976 for their own safety and out of fear, just 28 days after moving in. They moved into Kathy’s mother’s home while George arranged for the home to be investigated by Psychologist and Vampirologist Dr. Stephen Kaplan.


Ronnie DeFeo's lawyer William Weber found out about the Lutz's experience and organized a press conference with them. The hope was that the Lutz's experiences could help Ronnie since he had claimed that the house had made him commit the murders. This brought more attention to the case and with it, more investigators interested in visiting the home.


Lorainne Warren investigated the home with her husband and the cameraman felt stabbing chest pains during filming. Psychics felt pain and sorrow in the house while one of them saw a girl looking at her from the window. The preformed a seance in the home and Lorainne felt that there was a deeper evil in the house. She claimed to see bodies with white sheets over them while Others saw hooded figures who looked like monks looking in the house. Photographs were being taken throughout the night but one caught a figure of a little boy peeking out by the staircase.

Lorainne said “I hope this is as close to hell as I will ever get”.



Hans Holtzer, one of the most famous ghost hunters in America, and Ethel Meyers, a deep trance medium, visited the home for their own investigation. Meyers said that the house had been built on an indigenous burial ground and that the chief of the land was angry and had possessed Ronnie DeFeo Jr. The Amityville Historical society denies that any of this is accurate and also contradicted which indigenous communities had actually settled in the area originally.


Regardless, Hans would go on to write about his investigation in both fiction and non-fiction forms and author Jay Anson wrote the infamous book, "The Amityville Horror" based off the Lutz's experiences in the home.


Source: Murderpedia