While everyone knows Amityville Horror as a movie, and people from New Jersey know it was filmed at a home in Toms River, it all stemmed from a real-life murder case on Long Island. In the early 1970’s the DeFeo family lived in the house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville. (Because of the dark notoriety the home would gain years later, the address was legally changed to 108 Ocean Avenue to throw off curiosity seekers.)

On November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. took a .35 caliber rifle and methodically executed six family members as they slept. His mother, father, and siblings were murdered face down in their beds with the eerie evidence suggesting that none seemed to wake from the firing of the gun. Oddly, no neighbors heard the gunshots either. Ronald confessed to the murders.

He was sent to prison for 25-years-to-life for the slayings. Nearly half a century later Ronald DeFeo Jr. is reported to have died Friday in custody at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in upstate New York. It’s the same maximum security facility where David “The Son Of Sam” Berkowitz serial killer was housed for many years. Another notable past prisoner was Robert Chambers from the preppie murder case of Jennifer Levin.

No cause of death for Ronald DeFeo Jr. has yet been reported.

A year after the killing the Lutz family purchased the 1927 home for $88,000. They only lived in it for 28 days. They claimed the place was haunted. Two years later the Lutz family published the book The Amityville Horror which gave their account of their terrifying 4 weeks. It has sold 10 million copies and I would guess earned them far more than their $88,000 purchase price. Two years after that it was turned into a movie with Margot Kidder and James Brolin. Read some more facts about the home here.

Experts later debunked the claims of a supernatural haunting and George Lutz’s own lawyer would later confess the stories were made up. He was once quoted as saying, “We created this horror story over many bottles of wine...it is a hoax.”

Yet some of George Lutz’s step-children say they did experience unexplained events while living in the infamous home and blame George for the incidents for having been dabbling in the occult.

Ronald DeFeo Jr. was 69 years old.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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