When I met Ronald "Butch" DeFeo in November 2000 at Green Haven
Correctional, I was not sure who or what I would be interviewing.
I found Butch to be very frank and open, even though he seemed
nervous at the constant gawks and stares he received from other
visitors. We spent the next six hours discussing his case and the
Amityville stories. He practically hugged me before he left the
visiting room, seemingly thankful that people were going to find out
the truth about what happened the night of the murders. But, his
grateful attitude would soon be replaced by a conniving one.
Butch has become the one thing he loathed
the most: His father. Butch is a monster. He is a victim. He is a
confused little boy. He is a coward. He is a schemer. He, undoubtedly,
is a cold-blooded mass murderer.
The latter two serve Butch well in an
institution he assumingly will spend the rest of his life at.
Discussions with individuals who are close to Butch have revealed a
complex, sociopathic character.
One feels sorrow for the little boy, who was
tortured by his father; the teenager who escaped into drugs; the suspect
beaten up by the police; the defendant who did not receive a fair trial.
Then, there is the other side of Butch DeFeo that we must loathe:
Murder, hate, lies, greed and his constant willingness to exploit his
dead family. Having been in prison more than half of his life, money and
fame seem to mean more to this convicted child
killer than good intentions.
I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised by
Butch DeFeo's other quality. Extortion.
Although I always have shown a legitimate
willingness to report only the truth about this case, Butch decided to
threaten me with extortion. In short, if I didn't pay him by funneling
money through Geraldine, then he would start spreading lies about us and
my research. Once instance of this is in a letter to Geraldine DeFeo prior to the
publication of my book. DeFeo wrote, ",,,Let's sue now, unless you are
down with Ric. And if you are not, then he better make you an offer
quick. I [am] serious, so let me know."
Geraldine not only refused to help Butch
DeFeo extort money from me, but she also refused to remarry him. The
only thing Geraldine promised Michael Brigante, Sr. when he was alive
was that she would never abandon Butch. As far as I am concerned, she
has made good on that promise.
Butch is filled with hatred. It is no wonder
why the parole board constantly rejects his bids for freedom. Ask
yourself something: Would you want a man on the streets who has publicly
boasted about killing his parents and his younger sister/accomplice?
Would you want a man released into the public that has turned on people
that have shown him nothing but love or offered him help?
Butch DeFeo not only turned on me because I
would not help him profit from his crimes, but he also turned on
Geraldine. Geraldine, however, was not the first wife Butch sued...and it's probably not the last. In fact, Butch had
even threatened legal action against his
grandmother's estate because he wanted a "bigger cut" of her will. He
even wanted a court order to exhume her body to obtain the DeFeo
portraits that were reportedly buried with her.
When Butch tires of people, he turns on
them. Only through incredible generosity and compassion do these
individuals forgive Butch for his insane behavior. Nevertheless, in
2003, Butch DeFeo made good on his threats and sued Geraldine, my
publishers and me. It is no surprise that we were all exonerated in
Recently, Geraldine received a phone call
from someone that represented Butch. This person informed Geraldine that
Butch would recant all the negative things he said about us, if we paid
him 75% of all the profits.
She simply responded, "Go to hell!" before
hanging up the phone. It was a sad end to what was once a beautiful
relationship between her and Butch.