When I met Ronald “Butch” DeFeo in November 2000 at Green Haven Correctional, I was not sure who or what I would be interviewing. I found Butch to be very frank and open, even though he seemed nervous at the constant gawks and stares he received from other visitors. We spent the next six hours discussing his case and the Amityville stories. He practically hugged me before he left the visiting room, seemingly thankful that people were going to find out the truth about what happened the night of the murders. But, his grateful attitude would soon be replaced by a conniving one.
Butch has become the one thing he loathed the most: His father. Butch is a monster. He is a victim. He is a confused little boy. He is a coward. He is a schemer. He, undoubtedly, is a cold-blooded mass murderer.
The latter two serve Butch well in an institution he assumingly will spend the rest of his life at. Discussions with individuals who are close to Butch have revealed a complex, sociopathic character.
One feels sorrow for the little boy, who was tortured by his father; the teenager who escaped into drugs; the suspect beaten up by the police; the defendant who did not receive a fair trial. Then, there is the other side of Butch DeFeo that we must loathe: Murder, hate, lies, greed and his constant willingness to exploit his dead family. Having been in prison more than half of his life, money and fame seem to mean more to this convicted child killer than good intentions.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised by Butch DeFeo’s other quality. Extortion.
Although I always have shown a legitimate willingness to report only the truth about this case, Butch decided to threaten me with extortion. In short, if I didn’t pay him by funneling money through Geraldine, then he would start spreading lies about us and my research. Once instance of this is in a letter to Geraldine DeFeo prior to the publication of my book. DeFeo wrote, “,,,Let’s sue now, unless you are down with Ric. And if you are not, then he better make you an offer quick. I [am] serious, so let me know.”
Geraldine not only refused to help Butch DeFeo extort money from me, but she also refused to remarry him. The only thing Geraldine promised Michael Brigante, Sr. when he was alive was that she would never abandon Butch. As far as I am concerned, she has made good on that promise.
Butch is filled with hatred. It is no wonder why the parole board constantly rejects his bids for freedom. Ask yourself something: Would you want a man on the streets who has publicly boasted about killing his parents and his younger sister/accomplice? Would you want a man released into the public that has turned on people that have shown him nothing but love or offered him help?
Butch DeFeo not only turned on me because I would not help him profit from his crimes, but he also turned on Geraldine. Geraldine, however, was not the first wife Butch sued…and it’s probably not the last. In fact, Butch had even threatened legal action against his grandmother’s estate because he wanted a “bigger cut” of her will. He even wanted a court order to exhume her body to obtain the DeFeo portraits that were reportedly buried with her.
When Butch tires of people, he turns on them. Only through incredible generosity and compassion do these individuals forgive Butch for his insane behavior. Nevertheless, in 2003, Butch DeFeo made good on his threats and sued Geraldine, my publishers and me. It is no surprise that we were all exonerated in court.
Recently, Geraldine received a phone call from someone that represented Butch. This person informed Geraldine that Butch would recant all the negative things he said about us, if we paid him 75% of all the profits.
She simply responded, “Go to hell!” before hanging up the phone. It was a sad end to what was once a beautiful relationship between her and Butch.
An interesting series of letters regarding the commercialization of the Amityville Murders. With the help of William Weber, Butch DeFeo willingly played a part with profiting off his family's murder, as indicated his assignment below. These letters became exhibits in the DeFeo vs. Weber litigation and are now public record through US District Court depository in Kansas City, Missouri.
For Immediate Release
EMBATTLED AUTHOR RIC OSUNA EXONERATED IN COURT
Las Vegas, NV (October 23, 2005 ) – The US District Court Southern District New York ruled on October 17, 2005 against Ronald "Butch" DeFeo, ordering his “action closed.” This brings to an end nearly three years of legal struggles that Ric Osuna, author of The Night the DeFeos Died: Reinvestigating the Amityville Murders, has had to endure in order to validate his work and defend himself from the defamatory claims made by individuals looking to prevent his book from achieving the international recognition it has gained.
In February 2004, DeFeo brought a civil action against author Ric Osuna and his former publisher, good friend and Amityville colleague Ryan Katzenbach, claiming he lied in his book, made defamatory statements, and stole his property. Osuna always has maintained that the case was revenge, filed against him because he refused to help DeFeo profit from his crime. The case against Ryan Katzenbach was dismissed in July, when the court ruled DeFeo was libel proof. Osuna, on the other hand, held off until August to request a formal dismissal, which was recently granted after DeFeo could not address the merits of his case.
Osuna said, "I am pleased that the New York court, after carefully weighing all the evidence, has found that the accusations against me were without merit and has summarily dismissed the case. Far too long, certain individuals have called into question my character to prevent the truth from being reported and sabotage my diligent work. This court decision, like the others, has exonerated not only me, but also the individuals who have stood by me."
Ric Osuna is no stranger to legal action. In 2003, George Lutz filed a lawsuit against Ric Osuna arguing several absurd and self-serving claims that a court of law eventually dismissed. Like DeFeo’s action, Osuna feels the case was nothing but an attempt to bully him into silence. Representing himself, Osuna filed a 200+ page summary judgment that won four of the five causes of action. Although in the court proceeding Lutz never attacked any of the facts presented in Ric Osuna's book, Lutz tried to claim that Osuna was guilty of fraud, conversion of stolen property, trademark infringement over a domain name dispute, copyright infringement, and breach of contract. Despite the fact that in an earlier letter Lutz's attorney promised Lutz would "own" him, the court ruled in favor of Osuna, citing that Lutz's "mere scintilla of evidence is not enough to defeat a motion for summary judgment."
Explaining a summary judgment, Ryan Katzenbach said, "Ric, who moved for summary adjudication [judgment], had the burden of presenting evidence and facts that prove, SO CLEARLY, that he is right and the other side is wrong. In this case, George and his attorney had the upper advantage, frankly. Lutz's attorney was fighting a pro-se Defendant with no formal legal training or degree."
As the case neared the final showdown, Ric Osuna filed an 18-page motion, expecting to win his case with an involuntary dismissal of the last cause of action pertaining to the disputed domain name. The day before the hearing and upon the request of Lutz and his attorney, Osuna settled the last cause of action over the disputed domain name for no money or damages. "If any of the opposing parties in these proceedings would have had a leg to stand on," Katzenbach quipped, "they would have prevailed. THEY DIDN'T. George and his attorney had 80% of their lawsuit blasted out from under them by a 30-year old with no formal legal education. Apparently, our courts can still see the differences between right and wrong."
However, Ric Osuna and Ryan Katzenbach were not the only party to prevail in the courts. Back in 2003, Butch DeFeo retaliated against his ex-wife Geraldine because, among other things, she would not remarry him. The lawsuit against Geraldine was nearly identical to the one he would eventually file against Osuna. As in Osuna’s case, the New York superior court found Butch DeFeo’s charges to be baseless. The case was dismissed, helping secure Geraldine DeFeo’s authenticity.
The results of these court cases further substantiate that Ric Osuna’s book, The Night the DeFeos Died: Reinvestigating the Amityville Murders, was based on the truth supported with factual information obtained through legitimate and proper methods. Osuna picked up the entire tab for the research, which amounted to more than $13,000.
But, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo and his current wife Tracey did not limit their accusations to court documents. They continued their defamatory remarks through sensational claims against Ric Osuna and Geraldine DeFeo made to various law enforcement agencies. Osuna contacted these agencies offering cooperation and proof of his innocence, being proactive with his defense. The U.S. Department of Justice, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office and the Attorney General of New York State informed the embattled author that they had found no wrongdoing on his part. Disbelieving Butch and Tracey's allegations, in an October 3, 2004 letter to Ric Osuna, the U.S. Department of Justice wrote that it "does not intend to initiate a criminal investigation regarding this matter." For the record, Osuna has never been arrested or a suspect in a crime and has even assisted law enforcement in criminal cases. In fact, Osuna has a clean record and is a volunteer with the American Red Cross along with several other prominent community organizations. He freely gives of his time to the needy and less fortunate.
"It is a great day." Osuna concluded, "The absurd allegations, along with the various parties who have resorted to character assassination, have been proven false. Their failure only reinforces the validity of the truth and corroborating research contained in my book and at my website."
For more information, please visit www.amityvillemurders.com or purchase The Night the DeFeos Died: Reinvestigating the Amityville Murders.