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In 1974, Ronald DeFeo killed his entire family, including his parents, brothers and sisters, while they were sleeping in their beds.
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DeFeo's defense attorney, William Weber, attempted an insanity plea for Butch, and the murder suspect told jurors that he heard voices that told him to kill his family. The psychiatrist for the defense, Dr. Daniel Schwartz, supported the claim, saying that DeFeo was neurotic and suffered from dissociative disorder. But the psychiatrist for the prosecution, Dr. Harold Zolan, proved that DeFeo suffered from antisocial personality disorder. The illness made him the defendant aware of his actions,
but motivated by a self-centered attitude.
Jurors agreed with the assessment, and on November 21, 1975, they found DeFeo guilty on six counts of second-degree murder. He was sentenced to six consecutive life sentences, and sent to Green Haven Correctional Facility in Beekman, New York. His appeals to the parole board have all been turned down.
After his imprisonment, several novels and films appeared about the slayings. The first of them, entitled The Amityville Horror: A True Story, was published in September of 1977. The account followed the Lutz family, who lived in the DeFeo house after the murders. The story detailed the allegedly true stories of poltergeists that terrorized the Lutz family. A movie based on the book, called The Amityville Horror was released to popular appeal in 1979. Subsequent remakes and sequels to this film include the most recent 2005 film remake produced by Michael Bay, and a factual account of the DeFeo tragedy in the book Mentally Ill In Amityville (2008) by Will Savive.
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