For the first murder case study for Soulless, it feels it would only be appropriate to feature the murders that happened just down the street from the Soulless Headquarters: The Amityville murders. It is arguably one of the most notorious murder cases in modern day America, being the basis for a plethora of movies and books. But for those who may not know the true facts about the case, you're in for a doozy.
Date: November 13, 1974
Place: Amityville, Long Island, New York
Ronald Defeo Jr, who was 23 years old at the time, led a group of bar patrons to his house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville after proclaiming in the bar that he found both of his parents dead. Upon arriving at the house, the group found six murder victims on the property: not only were Defeos' parents dead, but all 4 of his younger siblings were also found with single bullet wounds. Defeo was the only living member of the family, and was taken by Suffolk police to the police station after suggesting that a hit man was the killer of his family members, and that he was in danger.
Once the police got a chance to question Defeo, many inconsistencies were found in his story. The next day, Defeo ended up admitting to police that he was the killer of his mother, father, 2 sisters and 2 brothers, all 18 years and younger.
But here's where the controversy with the case begins: the murder victims were all found laying on their stomachs in their beds. The fact that six people were killed with a .35 rifle, and none of them awoke to the sound of it going off, nor did any neighbors hear anything, originally suggested to police that there may have been other people associated with the killings, but no other evidence seemed to help support the claims.
Once in police custody, Defeo also asked police how he would go about collecting on his fathers life insurance policy, which may have also been a motive for the brutal killings committed again his family members.
However, soon Defeo's story changed again. His new account of the night claimed that the only person he had killed was his 18 year old sister Dawn Defeo, who, along with an unknown assailant, killed their parents, followed by the siblings, and that Ronald only killed his sister Dawn after she had already slain the rest of the family.
At trial, Defeo tried to plead insanity, claiming that he heard the voices of his family plotting to murder him and that he only killed them in self defense. The prosecution responded by saying that Defeo was a known abuser of heroin and LSD, and that he was fully aware of his actions throughout the Wednesday afternoon in November, 1974.
On November 21, 1975, Ronald Defeo Jr was found guilty of six counts of second degree murder, and on December 4, 1975 sentenced Defeo to six concurrent sentences of 25 years to life. Defeo is still alive today, at age 65, and is being held in a correctional facility in Upstate New York.
The Amityville murders have been the subject of at least 9 well known books and 18 well known movies, many of which focus more on the paranormal aspect of the incident on which the house was haunted or even possessed by the devil himself, and that voices in the house told Ronald Defeo Jr to slaughter his family.
As far as what happened to the home at 112 Ocean Avenue, the house ended up switching hands a few times over the course of the years, and is up for sale as of now at the price of $850,000. Writing from a personal experience of living just a short drive away from the property... the house has been remodeled over the years as it switched owners, so the house looks fairly different from how it did in 1974, but it is still definitely identifiable as the Amityville murder house. The house attracts plenty of tourists to the area each year who love the keepsake photos in front of the house - just watch out for cops, from what I understand the present day owners don't exactly like people all over their property (honestly, who would?!) so anyone thinking about visiting, just ensure you respect the property!
Images courtesy of Murderpedia and Wikimedia.