Amityville Murders

Photo of the DeFeo family home in Amityville, N.Y. (Messenger-Inquirer, via Newspapers.com™)

Photo of the DeFeo home in Amityville, N.Y., where Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered his family (Messenger-Inquirer, via Newspapers.com™)

In the early morning hours of November 13, 1974, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr. fatally shot his parents and four siblings in their family home in Amityville, New York. These killings have come to be known as the Amityville Murders.

Later that evening, DeFeo entered an Amityville bar and told patrons that his parents Ronald and Louise, both 43, and his younger siblings Dawn (18), Allison (13), Mark (12), and John (9) had been murdered. All appeared to have been shot with a .35 caliber rifle while they slept. Though he initially blamed the murders on a mob hit man, DeFeo confessed the following day. He was arrested and charged with six counts of second-degree murder.

During his 1975 trial, DeFeo pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity; nevertheless, he was found guilty and sentenced to six consecutive sentences of 25 years to life. He died in prison on March 12, 2021, at age 69.

In 1975 the DeFeo home was sold to the Lutz family, who fled the property after just 28 days with claims of having been terrorized by paranormal activity in the home. Their controversial story inspired the 1977 novel The Amityville Horror, as well as the 1979 film (and its 2005 remake) of the same name, and further publicized and sensationalized the DeFeo family’s story. 

Learn more about the Amityville Murders through historical newspapers from our archives. Explore newspaper articles, headlines, images, and other primary sources below.


Articles and Clippings about the Amityville Murders

"Six in Amityville Family Slain, Each in Bed, 1 Bullet in Back" Photo and diagram of DeFeo home 14 Nov 1974, Thu Newsday (Nassau Edition) (Hempstead, New York) Newspapers.com"A Quiet Drink Turns Into An Invitation to Disaster" on night of Amityville Murders 14 Nov 1974, Thu Newsday (Nassau Edition) (Hempstead, New York) Newspapers.com"At First, Suspicion of a Mob Angle" in Amityville murders 15 Nov 1974, Fri Newsday (Nassau Edition) (Hempstead, New York) Newspapers.com"Son Accused in Slaying of L.I. Family" "Parents and Four Killed in Beds" Ronald DeFeo arrested 15 Nov 1974, Fri Daily News (New York, New York) Newspapers.com"Police charge son in slaying of family" Ronald DeFeo Jr. arrested for murders in Amityville, N.Y. 15 Nov 1974, Fri Messenger-Inquirer (Owensboro, Kentucky) Newspapers.com"DeFeo Son Is Accused" "A Portrait of the Accused Son" 15 Nov 1974, Fri Newsday (Nassau Edition) (Hempstead, New York) Newspapers.com"6 Slaying Victims Believed Drugged" 16 Nov 1974, Sat Daily News (New York, New York) Newspapers.comObituary for the DeFeo family includes brief account of circumstances surrounding their murdersObituary for the DeFeo family includes brief account of circumstances surrounding their murders 17 Nov 1974, Sun Newsday (Suffolk Edition) (Melville, New York) Newspapers.com"After the Funeral, 6 Murder Counts" "Friends and relatives file past the six DeFeo coffins" 19 Nov 1974, Tue Newsday (Suffolk Edition) (Melville, New York) Newspapers.com"DeFeo Admission [of guilt] OKd as Evidence" in trial for Amityville murders 02 Oct 1975, Thu Newsday (Nassau Edition) (Hempstead, New York) Newspapers.com"Family Clash Cited As DeFeo Case Opens" Money may be motive for murders, defense pleads insanity 15 Oct 1975, Wed Newsday (Nassau Edition) (Hempstead, New York) Newspapers.com"The Quiet Trial of a Sensational Crime" Editorial account of Ronald DeFeo Jr. murder trial 17 Oct 1975, Fri Newsday (Suffolk Edition) (Melville, New York) Newspapers.com"Cop: DeFeo Altered Story" (excerpt) 22 Oct 1975, Wed Newsday (Nassau Edition) (Hempstead, New York) Newspapers.com"DeFeo Guilty of Family Murder" "Jury reported convinced by defendant's own testimony" 22 Nov 1975, Sat Newsday (Nassau Edition) (Hempstead, New York) Newspapers.com"DeFeo Found Guilty Of Killing Family" 22 Nov 1975, Sat Poughkeepsie Journal (Poughkeepsie, New York) Newspapers.com"DeFeo convicted of killing family" following seven-week murder trial 23 Nov 1975, Sun Tri-City Herald (Pasco, Washington) Newspapers.com"DeFeo Called Menace, Gets 6 Life Terms" in sentencing for Amityville murders 05 Dec 1975, Fri Newsday (Nassau Edition) (Hempstead, New York) Newspapers.com"Did Home's 'Demonic Spirits' Spur Murder?" Speculation on paranormal influence in DeFeo murders 24 Nov 1976, Wed The Miami Herald (Miami, Florida) Newspapers.comArticle on the Lutzes' (and others) paranormal Amityville experiences, doubts about validityArticle on the Lutzes' (and others) paranormal Amityville experiences, doubts about validity 26 Oct 1977, Wed The News (Paterson, New Jersey) Newspapers.com"Demons win, family flees" Excerpts from novel about Lutz family experience, 'The Amityville Horror' 22 Nov 1977, Tue Daily News (New York, New York) Newspapers.com"After Amityville: Fear dims slowly for the Lutzes" Reporter interview with George and Kathleen Lutz 23 Nov 1977, Wed The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida) Newspapers.comPhotos: Louise DeFeo, Mark and John DeFeo, Allison and Dawn DeFeoPhotos: Louise DeFeo, Mark and John DeFeo, Allison and Dawn DeFeo 19 Mar 1986, Wed Newsday (New York, New York) Newspapers.com"Convict Gives Version Of Amityville Killings" DeFeo alleges his sister was involved in murders 25 Jun 1992, Thu Newsday (Suffolk Edition) (Melville, New York) Newspapers.comPhotos: Ronald DeFeo Jr., convicted of murdering his six immediate family members in 1974Photos: Ronald DeFeo Jr., convicted of murdering his six immediate family members in 1974 24 Apr 2006, Mon Newsday (Nassau Edition) (Hempstead, New York) Newspapers.com"'Amityville Horror' Killer Dies in Prison" 16 Mar 2021, Tue Newsday (New York, New York) Newspapers.com
"Amityville Murders," Newspapers.com Topics (https://www.newspapers.com/topics/crimes-mysteries/amityville-murders/ : accessed May 25, 2024)
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