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The murders that took place at 112 Ocean Avenue in 1974 have become the basis for many best selling books and movies and are clouded in false claims and legends. The bodies of Ronald Defeo Sr., Louise Defeo, and their four children: Dawn, Allison, Marc, and John Matthew were all discovered by Suffolk County Police officers after a call was placed by Joe Yeswit after a frantic Ronald Defeo Jr. burst in Henry’s Bar and said ”You got to help me! I think my mother and father are shot!” All of the victims were said to have been shot by a .35 caliber lever action Marlin 336C rifle around three o’clock on the morning of November 13th. After discovering the bodies, Ronald Defeo Jr. was taken into protective custody by police official after having suggested the murders were carried out as a mob hit by Tony Mazzeo. However, after questioning Defeo Jr., inconsistencies in his version of how the events took place eventually led to him confessing to the murders of his family. Defeo Jr.’s trial began on October 14th, 1975. He and his defense lawyer William Weber mounted an affirmative defense of insanity, with DeFeo claiming that he killed his family in self-defense because he heard their voices plotting against him. The insanity plea was supported by the psychiatrist for the defense, Dr. Daniel Schwartz. The psychiatrist for the prosecution, Dr. Harold Zolan, maintained that although DeFeo was an abuser of heroin and LSD, he had antisocial personality disorder and was aware of his actions at the time of the crime. However, the jury found Ronald Defeo Jr. guilty on six counts of second-degree murder. On December 4, 1975, Judge Thomas Stark sentenced DeFeo Jr. to six concurrent sentences of 25 years to life. The reasons for the murders remain unclear to this day and their are many controversies surrounding the case. Police officials and medical examiners were initially puzzled by the rapidity and scale of the killings and considered that more than one person was responsible for the murders. During his time in jail, Defeo Jr. has given many varying accounts as to how the murders to place such as saying his sister initially killed their father and their distraught mother killed the remaining children before Defeo Jr. finally murdered her. Although no motive has ever come clear, in November of 2003 Defeo Jr. stated that he and sister along with two friends murdered the family “out of desperation” because his parents were plotting to murder him, however after the murders Defeo Jr. asked police what he had to do to collect his father’s life insurance policy leading police officials to believe that the motive for the murders was purely for financial gain. DeFeo is currently held in Green Haven Correctional FacilityBeekman, New York, and all of his appeals to the parole board to date have been denied.

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