In 1974, I was not only the wife of Ronald
Joseph “Butch” DeFeo Jr., but also the mother of his child. I knew his
family and loved them as my own. Part of my life ended when the DeFeos
were murdered and my husband was accused of committing this unspeakable
After the DeFeo murders, I have had to remain silent and hidden,
partly out of fear for my children and partly out of respect for
those who went to such great lengths to make sure I was not
unjustly implicated in the crime. The ones closest to the DeFeos
suffered greatly from the tragic murders of their loved ones and
from the ridicule following a cruel hoax.
Until July 2000, nothing could be said or done about all the lies
told about Butch DeFeo, his family and their house; rich, powerful
family members made sure of that. But now that they are dead and
my children are grown, it is time to set the record straight.
--Geraldine DeFeo, taken from The Night the DeFeos Died.
Lately, Amityville has been even more
controversial than normal. It all stems from the fact that one
woman, Geraldine DeFeo (Rullo-Romondoe were her maiden names), has
revealed that she had an intimate relationship with Ronald "Butch"
DeFeo prior to his involvement with the murders in Amityville.
Some may argue that Geraldine is looking
for fame and fortune, but this is far from the case. Geraldine, as
reported by author Ric Osuna, waived any money she could have
received for her participation in Osuna's book, The Night the
DeFeos Died. In fact, Geraldine even had a chance to appear on
A&E's City Confidential series, but passed instead. And, by no
means is this woman on a crusade to free her ex-husband.
Of course, she would like to see the wrongs done in his case
corrected, but she is the first one to admit that Butch DeFeo's own
mistreatment does not give him a license to hurt others. So, with no apparent motive to lie, it becomes increasingly
difficult to cast aside her testimony.
Joel Martin, news director for WBAB
Radio in Babylon, New York at the time of the 1974 murders, was the
first reporter on the scene when the bodies were discovered by
the police. On Saturday, June
22, 2002, Ric Osuna had the opportunity to sit down with Joel Martin
at the Nautilus Diner in Massapequa for an interview for his book.
Accompanying him was Geraldine DeFeo.
At first, Mr.
Martin was skeptical of Geraldine's claims regarding her marriage to
Butch and her connections to the DeFeos and Brigantes. In the years
proceeding the DeFeo murders, Michael Brigante Sr. contacted Joel
Martin to thank him since he was one of the only reporters not to
disrespect the memory of his daughter. Because he had spoken to him
several times, Joel Martin was no stranger to the mannerisms,
language, and nuisances displayed by Michael Brigante Sr.
Geraldine was slowly making progress by explaining why there was no
record of her marriage to Butch DeFeo. Of course, it helped that
Geraldine knew all of Brigante’s favorite terminology. The
remainder of Joel Martin's skepticism vanished after she pulled out
her old photo ID.
After Martin examined the old photo
identification of Geraldine, he explained, "I remember seeing her. I
can't remember what time I saw her. She looked so familiar to me.
When I saw the old picture, I didn't know that was who she was since
she had been so sick [in recent years]. I looked at the picture and
I said, 'I know her.' I did a double take, and I said, 'I recognize
you.' She must have been in some part of the story since I
don't doubt that she was there. She seems to know a tremendous
amount about the story and about the people involved. And she has
got those ID cards. I do remember that face back then, but I just
cannot place who she was. I am not sure what she has to gain from
lying. Geraldine seems to know too much, and she has too many
details. Clearly, there was some kind of relationship [between Butch
Prior to Joel Martin's interview, on Friday, October 26, 2001, Ric
Osuna had the opportunity to ask Hans Holzer specific questions
about his theories and books during a tape‑recorded phone interview
with him. One of the first questions Osuna asked was about Geraldine
DeFeo. Not only did Holzer recall meeting Geraldine, but he also
told Osuna that he knew that she and Butch had been married prior to
the DeFeo murders.
Even William Davidge, Dawn DeFeo's
boyfriend at the time of the murders, informed Ric Osuna that
Geraldine was involved with Butch DeFeo in 1974. Butch's two
friends, Barry Springer and Chuck Tewksbury, wrote affidavits
attesting to the fact that Geraldine was Butch's wife prior to the
murders and the mother of Butch's daughter.
Although there are plenty of first-hand
accounts and documentation to show that Geraldine had a relationship
with the convicted mass murderer before his family's deaths in
November 1974, a marriage certificate cannot be located. Therefore,
even if it comes to pass that she only had a common-law relationship
with Butch DeFeo, her relationship is no less important.
Geraldine DeFeo, who has since remarried and has a new last name,
has had a few legal problems herself. She was convicted of check
fraud--an incident she blames on Butch DeFeo--and penalized for
harboring too many stray dogs rather than allowing them to be
euthanized. Her critics argued that since she does not have a
"clean" record that her testimony should be disregarded. Her
supporters, of course, disagreed, citing more evidence of her
authenticity than in comparison with the supernatural stories of the
In fact, Geraldine DeFeo refused to testify for
Butch DeFeo at a 1992 appeals hearing, even though it may have
helped her ex-husband. Butch wanted the courts to believe that
Geraldine's non-existent brother, Richard Romondoe, an obvious alias for DeFeo's
real murder accomplice, was present during the commission of the
crime. However, Geraldine refused to lie under oath and say she had
What is worse is that at times to protect her children
and her new family, Geraldine has had to deny she had a relationship
with Butch DeFeo prior to the murders. Of course, Geraldine and her
daughters, insist that Geraldine only denied her relationship with
the DeFeos out of fear.
Commenting on this, Geraldine’s daughter, Stacy, said,
“The cops persecuted my mother for information. It seemed to me that
they bothered her a lot."
In fact, British criminologist
Christopher Berry-Dee reported in his book, Talking with Serial
Killers, that after Geraldine came forward in the early 1980s,
she was "threatened, pushed to the ground, arrested, and released by
the police for conspiracy in the Amityville slayings."
For those not familiar with the case,
testified at his trial that he also was beaten up during the
interrogation. According to Berry-Dee, the officer responsible admitted to him that
Butch DeFeo was roughed up, claiming, "Sure, of course we did a good job on
him....what do you expect?"
There certainly is enough evidence that the Suffolk County Police
Department--during the timeframe of the DeFeo murders--had a
confession rate of over 90 percent because interrogating officers
often coerced confessions or tortured suspects into admitting
responsibility for crimes they did not commit.
(See The Injustice that Followed section.)
The situation in Suffolk County law enforcement had deteriorated so
much that former Governor Mario
Cuomo requested the state's Commission of Investigation to
investigate in the mid-1980s. Three years after, the Suffolk County
homicide squad was fired, resigned or forced to retire. The
commission's report certainly gave credence to Butch DeFeo's claims
that he was tortured during his interrogation.
So, why is Geraldine a threat to so many
people involved in the business of Amityville?
Geraldine has exposed countless lies,
including her ex-husband's, who has since denounced her out of her
refusal to remarry him a third time and her refusal to help him
profit from the murders. Butch DeFeo now claims Geraldine is a fake
and her daughter is not his, even despite all of his notarized
affirmations that say otherwise. In fact, the examination of
Geraldine's 1989 remarriage to Butch DeFeo brings out an interesting
detail--according to affidavits, Geraldine and Butch were married
for the first time in the 1970s.
was not until 1989 that a federal judge reversed a New York law
prohibiting inmates with life sentences, like Butch DeFeo, the right
to marry. However, the Cayuga County Sheriff's Department
issued identification dated July 16, 1985 to Geraldine in the
married name of DeFeo. Obviously, the Cayuga
County Sheriff's Department is not in the habit of issuing
the name of just anyone. Geraldine must have had to present
some convincing evidence, such as a marriage certificate, to prove she was married to Butch DeFeo
prior to the law changing and therefore warranted an identification
with the name "DeFeo" on it.
Author Ric Osuna, during his
investigation, took the identification card along with Geraldine
DeFeo to the Cayuga County Sheriff's Department to have it
authenticated. The sheriff's clerk wrote, "The
enclosed personal identification card is true and original from the
Cayuga County Sheriff's Department, which was issued on July 16,
If readers simply discount
Geraldine's testimony, then there is more than enough evidence to
support Geraldine's assertions that Butch DeFeo had accomplices in the
murder of his family, the undeniable Mob elements associated with
the DeFeos, the corruption from the Suffolk County justice system in 1974
that prevented Butch
DeFeo from having a fair trial, and the ghost stories surrounding
the famous Amityville house were nothing but a hoax.
Ever since stepping forward, Geraldine
has been ridiculed and labeled a fraud by those who feel threatened by her existence. Despite
this hurdle, she has not changed her story. In fact, her daughters,
two of which were old enough to remember Butch in their lives, support their mother and vouch for her authenticity.
There have been so many fanciful claims surrounding Amityville that
comes down on what someone chooses to believe in:
A demonic pig with walls oozing green slime,
an angry Indian chief possessing Butch DeFeo, or a woman with little motive to lie? In the end, readers will have to decide for
MORE INFORMATION ON THIS SUBJECT
MATTER CAN BE FOUND IN
THE NIGHT THE DEFEOS DIED: REINVESTIGATING THE AMITYVILLE MURDERS.
BUY IT HERE
CLICK TEXT TO OPEN
HANS HOLZER ON GERALDINE
AFFIDAVITS IN SUPPORT
BUTCH DEFEO'S AFFIRMATIONS
COURT DOCUMENTS WRITTEN BY BUTCH DEFEO
ESTATE DOCUMENTS ON GERALDINE DEFEO
HANS HOLZER'S LETTER ON WIFE
MOTHER'S DAY CARD FROM BUTCH
REQUEST TO REMARRY FROM BUTCH
BUTCH TO NAME NAMES
CARD TO RIC OSUNA
LOVE LETTERS TO GERALDINE
BUTCH'S CASE DISMISSED
IN SUPPORT OF GERALDINE