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We have all heard the infamous story of the Amityville horror, the alleged “haunted” house along the south shore of Long Island, New York. The reason for its boom in publicity started with the Lutz family incident and their claims that the house was haunted, although that isn’t where the story actually began. On November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered his entire family with a .35- caliber Marlin rifle as they slept. This started an investigation since DeFeo had gone to work after the crime and acted as if he had no idea what had happened. He claimed that he went home from work and found his family members dead, after which he ran to the nearest bar screaming for help. Although he acted as if he had nothing to do with the murder, the town already had  suspicions about him because of his background. As a kid, DeFeo was abused by his father and bullied in school, which resulted in a troubled childhood. He had quite the history with alcohol and drug abuse, several arrests due to violent fights he had gotten himself into, and as a child, had once pulled a gun on his father, but it jammed.1

The Amityville house where the DeFeo family was murdered

It didn’t take long for him to become the prime suspect, and he was quickly arrested and taken into custody. DeFeo’s trial began October 14, 1975, close to a year after the murder, and William Weber had been put on the case as his defense attorney. DeFeo claimed he had heard voices in his head telling him to kill his family. With that information, Weber decided to use a strategy that he believed would give DeFeo a lot less time in jail. Weber insisted on an insanity plea, promising DeFeo that he would be out in five years. He believed this was the best approach, considering DeFeo’s wide range of different versions of the story, which proved that he must have been insane. Unfortunately, this plan did not work, for the jury believed that even though he wasn’t mentally stable, he was completely aware of the situation and motivated by a self-centered attitude. The jurors found DeFeo guilty on November 21, 1975, and sentenced him to six consecutive life sentences.2

Mugshot of Ronald Defeo’s Arrest
Courtesy of Wikipedia

Not long after his imprisonment, films, novels, and documentaries came out about the murder incident. The Lutz family had moved into the house a little over a year after the murder, but they only stayed for twenty-eight days, leaving in the middle of the night with just a few days worth of clothes. They completely abandoned the Amityville house, never wanting to step foot in it again, and didn’t even want to reclaim any of the belongings they left behind. In September of 1977, The Amityville Horror: A True Story started the supernatural phenomenon when it took into account the Lutz family and their experiences.3

With this book, the story rapidly gained publicity, and started a controversy over whether the haunting was a hoax. William Weber wanted to use this popularity to his advantage. He began by using the popularity to try and open DeFeo’s case again. However, for an unknown reason it was never filed and DeFeo continues to be incarcerated at a correctional facility in Fallsburg, New York. Weber then reached out to the Lutz family, attempting to convince them to partner up on a book deal on the DeFeo case for a large advance. He often spoke with them although he was reluctant to work with them, but once they had heard he was planning to split the royalties with DeFeo, they cut Weber out of any future deals and were no longer on speaking terms. As he carried on by himself, the Lutz family sued the writer Weber enlisted to write the book for an invasion of privacy, settling the suit in 1979—causing the plan to fall through.4

This upset Weber, who was prepared to call out the family, claiming “it was was all a lie” while at the same time wanting to take credit for some of the creativity in it. Going to the press, he explained that the entire story was created over a bottle of wine between Mr. and Mrs. Lutz, even though they still claimed to have some sort of supernatural experience. It was only with his help that they started to exaggerate the details with the murder evidence that Weber had provided them. He eventually sued the Lutz family for $60 million, stating they were “stealing ideas.” The suit settled for $2,500. Even though William Weber’s plans to make a large profit didn’t go the way he wanted them to, he still managed to get a total profit of $15,000 for his connections with the book and movie.5

  1. Mike Mayo, “DeFeo, Ronald, Jr.” American Murder, (2008): 23- 52.
  2. Ric Osuna, The Night the DeFeos Died: Reinvestigating the Amityville Murders (Xlibris Corp, 2002), 84-92.
  3. Jay Anson, The Amityville Horror (New York : Pocket Star Books, 2005), 67.
  4. New York Times. 2006. s.v. “George Lutz, 59; Found Horror in Amityville.”
  5. Patricia D. Netzley,. “Amityville Haunting” The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena, 2006.

Makenzie Santana

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Recent Comments


  • Makayla Soto

    I am super into horror and haunted things, so I enjoyed reading this article. I had never heard of this haunted house, so this was a first for me hearing about it! I think this article is super enjoyable to read while also being informative about the actual case and murders. This was such a well written article and I enjoyed reading it!

  • Maria Luevano

    What a great and interesting article Makenzie! I had never heard of this story about Amityville, so it was very interesting to learn about it! I very much agree with the jurors and think that Ronald DeFeo was aware of the situation and should have been accountable for his actions. It saddens me that DeFeo still lived a hard childhood, and unfortunately, this is a common thread between many criminals and murderers.

  • Andrew Ponce

    This article is extremely well written as it opens with an intriguing hook for the reader to grasp. Connecting the reader to a story they are familiar with and relating it to the story they are about to give. Articles like this give the reader an opportunity to engage their creativity with an exciting story of a man killing family due to “voices” and never accepting blame. Makes the audience think if that could ever happen in relation to them as it is such a superattic event that can happen to anyone. Great article!

  • Dominique Rodriguez

    This arwticke was very interesting! I’ve never head about this case. It’s crazy how this man just killed his own family in their sleep. He still continued his day after killing his family acting like nothing had happened. He supposedly killed them because he “heard voices” which i get but not only that he still did without feeling bad. He hooked them and then just acted like if nothing happened. The good thing was that he was sentenced for like 6 times.

  • Weber should have been disbarred

  • Perla Ramirez

    This was a great article, I have never heard of this troy before. But its very interesting because he killed his family due to him “hearing voices in his head to kill them”.But also he had no remorse for doing this act and had previous accounts of this so it was undependable he didn’t get the insanity plea deal. I am glad we served 6 consecutive life sentences.

  • Emilia Caballero Carmona

    Hey Makenzie, your article was so interesting! I honestly had never heard about the story of Amityville, but learning about it by reading your article, was so intriguing. These mystery stories make me curious and make me think whether or not the stories are real and I wish we had evidence to prove this. I don’t think William Weber deserved to get $15,000 as profit for his connection with the case because he was only trying to take advantage of the Lutz family in the end.

  • Aracely Beltran

    Great article! Honestly, when I read the title I thought to myself “aren’t we all” but then I read the full article. The horror story of the murders is scary. I can’t imagine hearing voices telling you to kill your family. And the attorney really tried to do something there and failed, he was in it for the money and didn’t care about the family.

  • Melanie Fraire

    I have heard about the Amityville House many times and all the stories I’ve heard/read describe the house as a complete nightmare. I knew that there was a family murdered in the house however I did not know it was by a man who killed his own family but I find it disgusting how people want to profit from such an unfortunate event.

  • Shriji Lalji

    I have never actually heard of this house or horror story. However I am very curious whether the house is actually haunted and if anyone lives in it today. I would assume the Lutz family was not aware of the murders before moving in. In regards to the lawyer, I know there are many lawyers who specialize in just suing people for money. Most of the time over intellectual property or copyrights. Although it may not be the most ethical approach they gotta make money somehow, and the people they sue are breaking laws. However in this case I definitely think the attorney was in the wrong. He was clearly trying to take advantage of a popular story along with the Lutz family to gain some wealth.

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