What were Ronnie's motives?

General Discussion About the 1974 DeFeo Murders and related topics
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Dan the Damned
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DeFeo material from "It's Only a Movie" book

Post by Dan the Damned » Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:38 am

Starting this thread so the DeFeo material from this book can be discussed here (to discuss the Lutz material from this book, visit the other thread.

This book is about movies inspired by true life events, and it has a chapter on Amityville. A few things seem odd. Maybe it's information that we've covered before and that I've just forgotten?

For instance, it mentions how Ronnie ran away from home on 3 separate occasions. "The third time he pleaded with his father to let him go. He just knew he was going to kill his family one day, but nobody would listen."

The story of Ronnie running away from home kinda rings a bell. Although it begs the question "if he ran away from home before, why feel the need to kill his family instead of running away again?" And can you actually "run away from home" at the age of 23?

And that line about "he knew he was going to kill his family, but nobody would listen" sounds a bit over the top. When did Ronnie warn people that he was going to kill his family?

It then goes on to mention the DeFeos hearing "unexplained noises" in the house on a regular basis. I think that's BS, perhaps stemming from Ronnie's interview with Hans Holzer (which he later disavowed, saying he only told Holzer what he wanted to hear because he was getting paid for the interview -- Holzer being employed by Weber at the time to write a book on the murders with a supernatural angle).

The book states that due to the paranormal events in the house, Ronald DeFeo Sr placed the religious statues in the garden (causing all the plants to die). I had never heard this before. Again, sounds like BS to me...



EDIT: The story of Ronnie warning his family that he would kill them -- it seems the source is merely Ronnie's own words, as he told this to Dr Zolan, the psychiatrist, during a pre-trial examination. He apparently told Zolan that he told this to his family and numerous friends. I wonder if any of those friends could attest to this (not that it makes a difference, but I kinda don't believe Ronnie on this one). Anyways, a friend emailed me and told me this was mentioned in "High Hopes".

From Holzer's book "Murder in Amityville," comes the story of Ronnie running away 3 times. This must have again come from Ronnie during that interview he did. Also in that book is where the story of the plants dying in the garden came from. :roll:

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astonio
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Re: DeFeo material from "It's Only a Movie" book

Post by astonio » Tue Feb 01, 2011 7:27 pm

...ok! Now we're cooking!! You asked a question that has piqued me.

True, if he ran away before, why kill the whole family instead of running away again? To me, this lends to motive. My belief the threat was incarceration. He would've went down hard for the "carjacking" (already on probation...WOW). The people putting those screws to him in his ill developmental processes: his family. Dad was probably straight up, 'I can't help you this time.' Mom was probably, 'You stole from Grandpa, the family.' Dawn was probably, 'I won't help you with "clean pee". The kids, simply witnesses. Killing the whole family was probably his most childish, impulsive move ever, but the spoiled brat would rather "show them!". Thing of it is, no matter how rough is, it WILL pass. Think he learned this one the hard way.

Of course, highly speculative & MHO.
"Everywhere I went wuz like uh telephone; no answer."

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Dan the Damned
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Re: DeFeo material from "It's Only a Movie" book

Post by Dan the Damned » Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:17 pm

Good points. And I tend to agree along those lines. I think things were coming to a head and Ronnie cracked.

Yeah, already on probation and sitting in the spotlight of that payroll theft/carjacking. Whoops!

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Shawn
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Re: DeFeo material from "It's Only a Movie" book

Post by Shawn » Wed Feb 02, 2011 10:53 am

Great post Stony!
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Re: DeFeo material from "It's Only a Movie" book

Post by Victoria Principles » Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:21 pm

Ronnie's friends weren't surprised he did it. There was the interview with that one person on some Youtube video that said that he thought Ronnie did it as soon as he heard of the murders and Ronnie was the only survivor. This guy knew more of the DeFeo family dynamic.

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Re: DeFeo material from "It's Only a Movie" book

Post by Brooke Forrester » Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:34 pm

Dan the Damned wrote:
The book states that due to the paranormal events in the house, Ronald DeFeo Sr placed the religious statues in the garden (causing all the plants to die). I had never heard this before. Again, sounds like BS to me...

From Holzer's book "Murder in Amityville," comes the story of Ronnie running away 3 times. This must have again come from Ronnie during that interview he did. Also in that book is where the story of the plants dying in the garden came from. :roll:
I'm pretty certain the book didn't say that putting the statues caused plants to die, but rather that Mr. DeFeo planted tulips for every member of the family and all the tulips died except the one planted for Allison.

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Re: DeFeo material from "It's Only a Movie" book

Post by Jacobmarley1 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:33 am

Victoria Principles wrote:Ronnie's friends weren't surprised he did it. There was the interview with that one person on some Youtube video that said that he thought Ronnie did it as soon as he heard of the murders and Ronnie was the only survivor. This guy knew more of the DeFeo family dynamic.
Now there's a person whose unwritten book would be very interesting.

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Re: DeFeo material from "It's Only a Movie" book

Post by Victoria Principles » Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:35 am

Jacobmarley1 wrote:
Victoria Principles wrote:Ronnie's friends weren't surprised he did it. There was the interview with that one person on some Youtube video that said that he thought Ronnie did it as soon as he heard of the murders and Ronnie was the only survivor. This guy knew more of the DeFeo family dynamic.
Now there's a person whose unwritten book would be very interesting.
Not sure of how many of Jr's friends are alive anymore.

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Jacobmarley1
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Re: DeFeo material from "It's Only a Movie" book

Post by Jacobmarley1 » Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:37 am

Junior's friends should only be in their late-fifties and early-sixties. Unless they were all heroin addicts, they should still be alive.

obsessed
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What were Ronnie's motives?

Post by obsessed » Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:27 pm

I belive that the fact that Ronnie was left 100,000 dollars proves that his motive was greed. He wanted to be the only heir. ALSO, Who knows if there was money stashed around the house like the rumors say. He was into drugs, desperate, and diden't want to work at the dealership. I also wonder if he thought he would receive life insurance. What looks like a mysterious case on the surface, turns out to be old fashioned greed. Just my opinion.

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csullivan
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Re: greed

Post by csullivan » Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:54 pm

not sure about the money part ...that could have been a factor..he may have been on drugs and not in his right mind...ronald defeo jr was insane and in my opinion still is ...it does not matter what he was on or what was going through his mind at the time..the fact is he killed his entire family and this is why he still remains behind bars

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Rokiisun
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Re: greed

Post by Rokiisun » Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:57 pm

As there is no conclusive evidence for a specific motive we can only assume (taking his personality into account) that a possible motive was indeed greed for money but this may not be the only reason, infact, there may not even be a motive present given that the murders were not planned in advance either so it could be unlikely that a motive was involved, but again, there's no conclusive proof of this. The only thing we can do with this question is come to our own assumptions as to whether or not there was a motive involved, the only person who can validate this for us is Ronnie himself and it's unlikely he's ever going to give a clean confession.
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Shawn
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Re: greed

Post by Shawn » Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:07 pm

There could be some merit to this theory. didn't the DeFeos supposedly move a large sum of money to a safe deposit box days before the murders? I read that somewhere. It would not surprise me given the fact that Butchie did rob his own family days before.


Here is a mention for it:

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Re: greed

Post by shuan6427 » Mon Feb 28, 2011 7:12 pm

To obsessed, yeah, Ronnie was greedy, he was also taking a lot of drugs. Because of his warped state of mind at the time it is difficult to pinpoint a motive. It is not a sure thing that he only killed his family for money. It is quite possible he only wanted to kill his father, but then things got out of hand and he killed Dawn and the others ( I know some people think Dawn was involved in the killings )

I don't think the actual murders are so mysterious, there have been other murders similar to them. That nobody heard gunshots is one wierd thing about the case ( this has been discussed here in detail before, and some posters believe that the neigbours DID hear something, but that is off topic here)

Ronnie is one mixed up individual, and he has put forward all sorts of conflicting stories in regard to what happened at 112 Ocean Ave.

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msmart112
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1974 Newsweek article

Post by msmart112 » Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:36 am

Here is an article that appeared in the November 25, 1974 edition of Newsweek.

Click here for a larger version.

Image
Image

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Dan the Damned
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Re: 1974 Newsweek article

Post by Dan the Damned » Mon Apr 25, 2011 12:07 pm

Thanks, Max!

Yeah, I think sometimes we overlook the obvious -- a guy already on probation involved with a holdup which his father found suspicious...

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astonio
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Re: 1974 Newsweek article

Post by astonio » Mon Apr 25, 2011 1:26 pm

aHA! So here, he admits to killing his brother.
"Everywhere I went wuz like uh telephone; no answer."

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astonio
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Motive...?

Post by astonio » Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:24 pm

Chapter 10, page 120:

This was where some of what DeFeo had told Jimmy DeVito began to fit. Actually, money had been found in the house. The day after DeFeo's arrest, Detective Joseph Napolitano had returned to 112 Ocean Avenue with a representative of the public administrator's office, which was responsible for the property. Michael Brigante, DeFeo's maternal grandfather, was present. Brigante kept glancing up the stairs toward the master bedroom and asking questions about jewelry. Napolitano decided that a hiding place might have been overlooked and conducted a grid search of the bedroom. He spotted a corner of carpet that seemed slightly raised. When he pulled the carpet back, he found a yellow-green envelope containing about $650. Either someone had searched the house and missed the envelope, or there had not been a search as much as a direct raid on one place in which $1000s were known to be hidden. Suppose that part of DeFeo's story was correct---a large sum of cash had been secreted in the house. Why couldn't that money have been hidden in the metal box for which a hole had been chiseled out of the floor? Why couldn't Butch DeFeo have been the one who removed the contents of that box and wiped it clean? Why couldn't he have killed over those contents? He could have committed murder to keep the theft from being discovered.

...Or more likely, the truth lies in the story he told DeVito. HE HAD BEEN CAUGHT IN THE ACT OF TAKING THE MONEY. OR HIS FATHER HAD DISCOVERED THE THEFT AND CONFRONTED HIM.

Epilogue, page 347-348

Kramer nodded and smiled. "What if I knew what Ronnie did with the $200,000 and jewelry?"

"Give it up, John (Kramer)," I said. "It won't help you. That's stolen property."

All I could get out of him was that DeFeo said he buried the money in a park in Amityville. "If you get out of jail and they catch you digging up Amityville, I said, "you'll go back for a long time."

Kramer kept smiling. I never told him that a shovel was found in the trunk of DeFeo's Buick---and that a small park was located less than two blocks from 112 Ocean Avenue.

-Gerard Sullivan; High Hopes
"Everywhere I went wuz like uh telephone; no answer."

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question for case experts

Post by jillian » Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:07 pm

I have lurked a while but never seen the issue of motive discussed. A letter I saw today got me thinking. Did the prosecution ever prove what Ronnie's motive was for killing his family?

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astonio
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Re: question for case experts

Post by astonio » Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:09 pm

Hi Jillian, Welcome.

This is a very good question. Did the prosecution prove motive? I would say no, but that is only because Ronnie confessed from the stand; which pretty much throws out a need to pursue motive by that point.

There were inferences made by Sullivan that escape me right now, but I'm sure some one will provide those assumptions.
"Everywhere I went wuz like uh telephone; no answer."

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Re: question for case experts

Post by scipio-USMC » Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:43 pm

astonio wrote:Hi Jillian, Welcome.

This is a very good question. Did the prosecution prove motive? I would say no, but that is only because Ronnie confessed from the stand; which pretty much throws out a need to pursue motive by that point.

There were inferences made by Sullivan that escape me right now, but I'm sure some one will provide those assumptions.
Motive is not one of the elements of a crime. It doesn' need to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The only reason to addres smotive at all is because a jury has to feel there is a reason for someone to have committed a crime be it for profit, out of anger, jealousy, to avoid being identified for doing something else wrong, or even just for fun. Since it need not be provem beyond a reaosnable doubt all tha tmust be shown is a potential motive existed tha tin combo with the evidence estabilishes guilt.

In this case much was made of the fact Ron Sr planned to confront Ron Jr about being robbed. It wa sbelieved that Ron Jr staged being robbed while making a deposit for the car delaership. The secretary testified Ron Sr told her he planned to confront his son.

He could have killed him because his father told him he was throwing him out of the house and to look for anothe rplace to live. He coudl simply have been so mad at the confrontation that occurred. Indeed there was testimony in prior heated disputes that he tried to shoot his father with a shotgun but it failed to go off. That shoudl have been a wakeup call to kick his son out or get him help. He coudl have gone to prison for attempted murder or at least assault. The tesitmony set up Ron Jr. as bad and always fighting with his parents.

In his confession he ranted about hating his siblings as well.

The monetary motive is also presented. That maybe he robbed his parents and got caught and that caused problems or that he wanted his parent's money.

Ron Jr constantly says that he didn' inehrit his parent's money so that proves money wasn't the motive. his is absurd.

The only reason why he didn't enherit their money is because he was convicted of the crime. To prevent killers from profiting from a murder they commit, it convicted and they stood ot inherit anything the law treats them as having predeceased the victims. Thus the alternative beneficiaries receive instead. Under NY law if there is no living spouse and no living issue (children or grandchildren) then the estate goes to any living parents. If ther is a will that in that case you follow the contingent benefeciaries named in the will. Because both parents were dead and all issue were dead (though Ron was sitll alive he was deemed to have predeceased his parents because of th emurder) th emoney went to the parents of the couple (Ron's grandparents). Had he not been convicted the estate would have been his so he had a huge motive for killing his parents and siblings because he would get everything instead of having to shar eit with the siblings he hated.

He made much about not cleaning out the mony in their room, that's because he thoguht it was going to be his anyway he had no reason to take it and hide it in his room.

Was he told he was being kicked out? We don't know for sure.

We know there were constant confrontations and tha the got made enough to kill his father more than once. Maybe he was in a rage and just killed th ewhole fmaily as spit in the rage. maybe he did it becauseof rage and he wanted the money. Maybe he killed everyone else because he didn't want to shar ein it maybe mostly out of rage. We cna't be sure what rans through his mid at the moment.

All that need be shown though is that there was a possible motive and the anger, hatred and money issues all present ample motives. A reasonable motive needs to be presented merely not proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

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