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Subject: Ronald "Butch" Defeo, Amityville murderer dies

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Date Posted: Monday, March 15, 08:24:47am

One of the most infamous criminals in the New York State prison system, "Amityville Horrors" murderer Ronald "Butch" Defeo, has died while in state custody, CNHI confirmed Monday.

Defeo was 69 years old. He was an inmate at maximum Sullivan Correctional Facility in the Catskills and was being treated at a nearby hospital for an illness when he died over the weekend, authorities said

Defeo was serving life in prison for the Nov. 13, 1974 murders of his mother and father, two sisters and two brothers at the family's Dutch Colonial home in Amityville, a quaint village on Long Island's South Shore.

All six victims were found face down in their beds, after being shot with a high-powered hunting rife. There was evidence the killer had used pillow cases to transport items from the house and toss them in a storm drain.

Defeo was 23 at the time of the killings. He was eligible for a parole hearing in July.

At his 1975 trial, Defeo mounted an insanity defense, asserting he acted in self-defense because he was convinced his family was plotting to harm him.

But the prosecution team, aided by testimony from forensic psychiatrist Harold Zolan, said though Defeo was a user of LSD and heroin he understood the consequences of his actions.

The shocking crime spawned a popular movie, "Amityville Horrors," released in 1979, with actors James Brolin and Margot Kidder. The movie was based on a novel inspired by the killings, dramatizing the rumored involvement of paranormal activity at the house. It became one of the highest grossing independent movies of all time.

For years, neighbors in the Long Island community reported they were spooked by the house where Defeo killed his family members, one by one.

Police reported at the time Defeo confessed to the crime, saying he was driven to comply with "the voices of the house."

In 2012, after Defeo had been denied parole several times, a documentary film attempted to make the case more than one person was involved in the killings because the prime suspect would not have been able to attack so many people in such a short span of time.

“We firmly believe that there was indeed a second gun involved in the commission of the crime,” filmmaker Ryan Katzenbach told a CBS News affiliate at the time. “How could a person walk through a three-story Dutch colonial and shoot six different victims, on two separate levels and no one got out of bed, no one put up a struggle?” Katzenbach said.

But police officials said at the time the crime was thoroughly investigated and there was no evidence of a second shooter.


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Pic.Monday, March 15, 11:41:42am

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