The following page
contains a gruesome crime-scene photo. View discretion is advised.
During the final stages of Ric Osuna's research
for his book, The Night the DeFeos Died, in
November 2001, he finally was allowed by the Suffolk County Police
Department to view the negatives of the DeFeo crime-scene photographs.
Although Osuna already had more than a 100 DeFeo crime-scene photographs
that he previously helped acquire for a TV documentary, Osuna wanted to
find out if there were any photographs of the area in the DeFeo house
listed in the Suffolk County police laboratory reports as a “stain from
outside master bedroom floor.” Because Herman Race had testified that he
had found portions of the DeFeo floors bloodstained, Osuna wanted to
obtain a photograph of this area for further analysis (See
The Injustice that Followed for more
The process was an arduous one at that. For more than three hours, Osuna
examined hundreds of negatives. Although the clerk was quite helpful,
even offering Osuna an extra large magnifying glass for viewing the
negatives, she showed him only one negative or strip of negatives at a
time. This tight control was needed since all that existed of the DeFeo
crime-scene photographs were these negatives.
Interestingly enough, it was at that time Osuna uncovered the photo
depicting the blood on the shoes (see Analysis of a Bloody Shoe).
Although there was no photo of the floor surrounding the exterior of the
master bedroom, Osuna discovered an additional photo that caused a new
Osuna began to grow distressed while viewing the negative the clerk labeled
20B2. Ever since he had acquired the DeFeo crime-scene photographs,
spent untold hours reviewing them for clues. Hence, he knew every detail
of the DeFeos' bedrooms and beds. Osuna slowly realized while viewing the
negative that he was staring at a "seventh" body in a sixth location.
Moreover, the surroundings of this mystery body resembled the DeFeo
basement with its fake wood paneling and iron grate. Since he was not sure if this was just a
red herring or something extraordinary, Osuna simply ordered a reproduction
of the photo
(See purchase receipt from the Suffolk County Clerk). A couple
of weeks later, it arrived. In fact, Osuna originally felt the body in
the photo was that of Dawn DeFeo repositioned in the DeFeo basement.
After Osuna began work on the second edition of his book, he contacted
Christopher Berry Dee, a renowned British criminologist and author.
Berry Dee, who had interviewed Butch DeFeo in 1994 for a TV documentary
series called "The Serial Killers" and for a chapter in his book, titled
Talking with Serial Killers, was the director of operations for the
prestigious Criminology Research Institute. Christopher Berry Dee's
background was impressive, to say the least.
Osuna sent Christopher Berry Dee several DeFeo crime-scene photographs,
including a photo of the DeFeo basement. Understandably, Berry Dee was
initially skeptical about this mystery photo, believing, as Osuna
originally had, that it was a "red herring." Berry Dee and his team of
criminologists, nevertheless, agreed to examine the evidence the
American author had sent.
Berry Dee's interim report of May 28, 2002 read, "We have examined this material
as a team, and for the interim period, I would like to give you our
immediate thoughts. Ric, in cases such as this, especially where much
hype and notoriety are attached, it is easily forgiven if one gets lost
in the 'ripple effect,' where the waves on the pond lead away from the
initial splash. Therefore, I would concentrate your mind on the
'splash'--where the stone hits the water. In other words, the initial
crime scene and the implications of what we can believe to be true.
"We are, collectively, of the belief that you have seven corpses in the
DeFeo residence. That you have brought to light the 'mystery body’ does
you much credit. We feel that the odds against this body being found
shot, in another room, which is identical or almost identical to the
DeFeo basement, are all but impossible. We take into consideration your
integrity here and the circumstances of how this photograph came to
This expert criminologist wrote in his report, "There were very powerful
influences at work once the police arrived. Mafia linked with police
contrived to 'tidy' this mess up. DeFeo had his 'confession' beaten out
of him; the states’ attorney played his role, while making the
occasional slip of the tongue en route. And you have one of the most
dishonest judges known to man manipulating the American justice system.
Ever since uncovering this photo, Osuna has heard rumors that the Suffolk
County police had been seen bringing in a large garbage bag full of
something into the DeFeo house the day after the murders. In spite of
the fact that these rumors have yet to be substantiated, they also have
yet to be refuted completely. The possibility that this seventh victim
was one of the DeFeo bodies returned to the crime scene in a garbage
bag—for whatever reason—has not been ruled out. Were the Suffolk County
detectives trying to plant evidence or acquire new photographs? The
answer may never be known.
Indeed, Osuna did not feel the body in this photo was that of a seventh
victim, but rather one of the DeFeos repositioned. Yet, the CRI's
findings regarding the location of this photo matching the DeFeo
basement is a significant fact. While viewing the DeFeo crime scene
negatives, Osuna noted that there were three negatives of the mysterious
victim in two different strips: twice on negative 17B1 and once on 20B2.
He compared his notes with the police clerk's order sheet and found that
both matched. On the same strip of negatives were other scenes of the
crime scene at 112 Ocean Avenue, including shots of Dawn DeFeo lying in
bed. This fact alone suggested the photos were taken at approximately
the same time or at least on the same roll of film.
If this person was a DeFeo, then the photo lends further credence that the police
tampered with evidence. If, however, this person truly was a seventh
victim, then the coverup and ensuing corruption are unprecedented. At
this point, this mystery clearly embodies the corruption and errors in
the Suffolk County justice system prior to the New York State of
Commission investigating the police and district attorney's offices.
Whether anyone discovers the identity of this victim or the reason he or
she was placed in the DeFeo basement remains to be seen.
Since Joel Martin--the first reporter on the scene of the DeFeo murders--had spent several days in front of the DeFeo residence
covering the ongoing investigation, Ric Osuna decided to show him the photo of
the "seventh" body during their meeting. Although Joel Martin believed the
body in the photo looked like one of the DeFeo children, Osuna had wanted to
learn if this veteran reporter had heard the rumors about the police
bringing in a large garbage bag to the DeFeo residence the day after the
Regarding the rumor about the garbage bag, Joel Martin explained, "I
didn't see anything like that. But I had heard some strange stories
about that. I don't know what that was about. I don't know if they were
bringing something in or something out. Yeah, I heard the rumor, too. I
just never could make any sense out of what it was. I could never find
out the details.
"Frankly, I don't know why they would have needed to do anything since
they had so much evidence against [Butch]. If any mistake was made by
the police, in hindsight, they may have been overeager, or maybe they
made mistakes in the homicide investigation because they had never had
anything like this to deal with in this enormity with this kind of
publicity and amount of attention. I don't have any question that they
got the right guy."
Clockwise From Left to Right: The Seventh Body image discovered by
author Ric Osuna. Close-up of the lamp and the wall of the seventh body
image. Close-up of the grate from the seventh body image. Close-up of
the wood paneling in the DeFeo basement (see Crime-Scene Gallery
image entitled basement 5). Close-up of the iron grate in the DeFeo
basement (see Crime-Scene Gallery image entitled basement 4).