Ronald DeFeo, the notorious killer whose murder of his parents and siblings inspired The Amityville Horror has died in jail aged 69.
According to the state Department of Corrections, DeFeo, whose murderous spree served as the inspiration behind The Amityville Horror book and movie franchise, died Friday while serving a 25-years-to-life sentence at Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, New York.
DeFeo, nicknamed “Butch,” was convicted of killing his mother, father, two sisters and two brothers inside their Amityville home on Ocean Avenue on November 13th, 1974.
The then-23-year-old used a .35-caliber Marlin lever-action rifle to slaughter his family members, who were all in bed at the time, his dad Ronald DeFeo Sr., 43, mom Louise DeFeo, 43, and siblings Dawn, 18, Allison, 13, Marc, 12, and John, 9.
Both parents were shot twice, while the siblings were each shot once. All of the victims were found face-down in bed.
During their initial investigation, police reported that DeFeo told them “the voices of the house” compelled him to commit the crime.
The murders were immortalized in Jay Anson’s 1977 book about the allegedly true paranormal experiences of the subsequent owners of the home. The Amityville Horror book was then turned into a series of films, most notably a 1979 version starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder as the new owners and a 2005 remake starring Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George in the same roles.
The murders were the subject of a 2012 documentary, Shattered Hopes: The True Story of the Amityville Murders, in which filmmaker Ryan Katzenbach argued that the DeFeos were killed by more than one person.
Officials have said that the cause of DeFeo’s death was still being determined by the medical examiner’s office in Albany County.