What happened on this day in history: Ronald DeFeo Jr. kills his entire family in the infamous Amityville Murders, the Nevado del Ruiz erupts in Colombia, and more.
1002: St. Brice’s Day Massacre
King Aethelred the Unready orders his army to kill all Danes living in England in what’s now known as the St. Brice’s Day Massacre. After years of violent raids, the king was told that the Danes wanted to kill him and take over his kingdom, so he decreed that they should all be exterminated. Though there are no exact records about how many people were murdered, historians believe the loss of life was significant.
1850: Robert Louis Stevenson Is Born
Famed Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson is born in Edinburgh. Stevenson is best known for his novels Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but he also wrote many essays, poems, and books on his travels. He spent the final years of his life in Samoa, where he wrote much darker works of realism rather than the romance and adventure he was famous for.
1974: The Amityville Murders
Ronald DeFeo Jr. kills his parents and four siblings at their Amityville, New York home, inspiring the hit 1977 book and 1979 film The Amityville Horror.
DeFeo shot all six family members around 3 a.m., and police found all the victims of the so-called Amityville Murders lying face-down in their beds. DeFeo claimed that he killed them in self-defense because they were plotting against him and pled insanity, but he was sentenced to six counts of 25 years to life in prison.
1985: Nevado Del Ruiz Erupts
Colombian volcano Nevado del Ruiz erupts just after 9 p.m., sending mudflows cascading into nearby villages, including the town of Armero. Though the eruption wasn’t particularly violent, the flows of mud, rock, and volcanic debris —known as lahars — that it triggered killed 70 percent of Armero’s residents, including 13-year-old Omayra Sánchez. With a total death toll of 23,000, the eruption remains the deadliest natural disaster in Colombian history.
2012: Cari Farver Goes Missing
Cari Farver, a 37-year-old woman from Iowa, goes missing after starting a whirlwind romance with Dave Kroupa of Omaha, Nebraska. Police would eventually uncover evidence pointing to Shanna “Liz” Golyar, a woman Kroupa had dated before Farver, as the person behind Farver’s disappearance. Golyar abducted and murdered Farver, and took it one step further by pretending to be her for the next three years. Golyar would send texts to Farver’s family and friends, and it wasn’t until Golyar began escalating her crimes that the police would end the bizarre case.