Amityville Murders Podcast

History Uncovered Episode 50:
The Amityville Murders

Published September 29, 2023

Did demonic forces really compel Ronald DeFeo Jr. to murder his entire family one autumn night in 1974? This is the real story of the Amityville Murders and the alleged hauntings that followed.

On the night of November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. burst through the front door of Henry’s Bar in Amityville, New York, screaming hysterically for help. “You got to help me!” he cried. “I think my mother and father are shot!”

A few of his friends then hopped into a car with him and drove to the DeFeo house at 112 Ocean Avenue, only a block away. The house was completely silent except for the barking of the family’s dog.

There, they found that DeFeo’s entire family had been murdered. His mother, father, and four siblings lay dead in their beds, still wearing their pajamas and covered in blood. Each of them had been shot at close range.

And the story only became more shocking the next day when none other than Ronald DeFeo Jr. himself confessed that he was the one who had committed these heinous murders.

Ronald Defeo Jr

Don Jacobsen/Newsday RM via Getty ImagesRonald DeFeo Jr. was just 23 years old when he killed his family.

But even after his initial confession, he changed his story multiple times. In one version, he claimed that his sister Dawn approached him about killing their family. They were supposedly only going to kill their parents and take their siblings to their grandparents’ house beforehand.

In this first version, Dawn killed their father, then their mother, and in a bout of insanity, killed the other children before Ronald shot and killed her.

In the second version of this story, Ronald DeFeo Jr. claimed that Dawn had been the one to kill the entire family before he killed her himself.

Ronald DeFeo Jr.’s most infamous claim, however, was that he was possessed by the devil and that the devil made him kill his family.

But the night that Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered his family was only the beginning of the terrors that plagued what came to be known as the “Amityville Horror House” after the family who moved in afterward claimed that the home was haunted. They said they experienced inexplicable cold spots in different parts of the house and loud noises that woke them in the middle of the night. Eerily, they also claimed that they sensed the presence of an unseen person.

Though the story of Ronald DeFeo Jr.’s gruesome murders — and the fate of the family’s house — has since helped inspire several movies and remains well-known to this day, the true story about what happened isn’t quite what you might think.

Dig deeper into the grisly story of the Amityville Murders.

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