After a lengthy trial that concluded right before Thanksgiving,
Butch DeFeo was found guilty of killing his father, mother, two
brothers, and two sisters. On December 4, 1975, Justice Thomas Stark
said that the crimes were “the most heinous and abhorrent,” and
sentenced Butch to 25 years to life. No other suspect was ever
prosecuted for the crime. Officially, Butch DeFeo acted alone in the
grisly crime. Unofficially, the evidence pointed to a conspiracy.
Race, a former New York City supervising police detective, was hired by Michael
Brigante Sr. to investigate the murders. Brigante had testified at trial
that he did not feel that his grandson acted alone in the commission of
the crime. Since Brigante did not feel that his grandson had done all
that he was accused of, he wanted Race, a licensed investigator and
friend, either to prove or disprove the case against Butch.
Race eventually uncovered evidence that
showed there were multiple gunmen and at least two guns used during the
commission of the crime. During a private court hearing and at
trial, Race's findings were corroborated by the prosecutor and the medical examiner,
who was astonished that one man sat accused of being the sole gunman.
* * *
During a November 30, 2000 meeting with Ric
Osuna, author of The Night the DeFeos Died, Butch DeFeo confessed
that, along with his sister Dawn DeFeo, he and one of his friends
committed the murders out of desperation. This fact was confirmed by a
letter written by Butch DeFeo. In his own handwriting, Butch wrote,
"...it was cold-blooded murder. Period. No ghosts. No demons. Just three
people in which I was one."
During the 2000 interview, the details of
the hours leading up to the six killings emerged. The DeFeo household
had been in a frenzied state during the evening of November 12, 1974.
Butch's father, according to Butch, routinely abused his family. After
that evening's tirade had settled down, Butch, his 18-year-old sister
Dawn, and two of Butch's friends proceeded to get "high" in the basement.
Incensed that her father was
preventing her from joining her boyfriend in Florida and worn out from
the years of physical abuse, Dawn DeFeo approached her
older brother about killing their parents. Butch initially refused.
After a culmination of drugs, alcohol, and desperation over the next few
hours, Butch finally
gave into Dawn's ghoulish request. Employing his two
friends, Butch and Dawn left the safety of the family's basement and
headed for their parents' bedroom on the second floor. It was around
1:00 a.m. on November 13, 1974. While one friend waited as a lookout,
the other, with his Colt Python, followed Butch, who had armed himself
with a .35-Marlin rifle.
A votive candle burning on the father's
dresser, the second-floor bathroom light, and a military-style
flashlight that was later recovered by the police
on the brown recliner in the hallway outside of the master bedroom was
their only light source
(See Crime-Scene Gallery).
The parents were attacked while they lay in
bed. Mr. DeFeo, however, was able to struggle to his feet to attempt a
counterattack on his assassins. A second bullet struck him dead before
he was able to reach his target. Louise DeFeo lay in bed, moaning for
help, as she slowly bled to death. A second bullet would silence the
woman for good.
Although the original plan called for the
younger children to be taken to the grandparents' house in Brooklyn,
Dawn, according to Butch, killed them to eliminate the children as witnesses
and potential threats. Butch claimed he was not in the house at the time
of the children's murders, but giving pursuit to one his friends, who had fled the
scene, in order to lure him back to assist with the cleanup. Even while feigning insanity at trial, Butch DeFeo never admitted shooting the children.
One can only imagine the horror on Marc's
and John's faces when their big sister entered their room with a rifle.
Dawn callously ordered the boys face down. A clue that the DeFeos were
awake at the time of the murders rested in the final position of Marc
DeFeo's body. Because Marc had suffered a debilitating injury from
football, he was forced to sleep on his back. Yet, he was shot face down
in bed. The prosecutor confirmed this fact at the DeFeo trial.
The next room Dawn entered was Allison's.
Standing at the doorway, Dawn raised the rifle, taking aim as Allison
slightly raised her head before looking into the muzzle flash. Death was
instantaneous, as the bullet impacted Allison's left cheek and exited
her right ear. Allison's wounds were meant to disfigure the beautiful
Butch, upon his return and enraged at the
senseless murder, confronted Dawn DeFeo in her third-floor bedroom.
After briefly wrestling for the gun, Butch got the upper hand and
slammed Dawn against the bed knocking her out. As she lie unconscious on
her bed, Butch placed the back of the rifle to Dawn's head and fired.
The murderous spree had finally ended, but the cleanup had just begun.
* * *
Today, Butch DeFeo has once again decided to
blame the entire crime on his sister, even though the evidence clearly
supports Butch's involvement. Nevertheless, evidence also supports the
claims that more than one gun and killer were involved in the DeFeo
murders. Butch has conveniently forgotten writing an admission to which
he admitted being part of a conspiracy.
Although several attempts were made by Ric
Osuna to contact one of the accomplices named by Butch DeFeo, rumor had
it he had entered into a witness protection program for something
unrelated to Amityville. The other
accomplice named by Butch DeFeo died on January 1, 2001. The man refused
author Osuna's request for an interview or a chance to clear up any speculation
over his involvement.
As for Dawn, the post mortem examination
discovered that she had "unburned" powder burns on her nightgown, which
lent further credence to Butch's claims of his sister's involvement.
Substantial evidence exists to support the story Butch DeFeo shared with
author Ric Osuna and Geraldine DeFeo.
A DETAILED ACCOUNT OF THE MURDERS CAN
BE FOUND IN
THE NIGHT THE DEFEOS DIED: REINVESTIGATING THE AMITYVILLE MURDERS.
BUY IT HERE