Any horror fan worth their weight in ectoplasm knows the story of 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York, where Ronald DeFeo, Jr. killed 6 members of his immediate family in the fall of 1974.
That act, in itself, would sadly be buried in the annals of terrible crimes were it not immortalized by claims from the Lutz family who, a year after the tragedy, occupied the house for 28 days before fleeing in terror.
You might be surprised to learn that just 4 months after DeFeo’s rampage another family was wiped from the face of the earth by one of their own in what is, to this day, the worst familial massacre in U.S. history – and it happened in good old Ohio.
The story begins when Larry and Christy R. had their second child, John, on March 29th, 1934. From the get go little Johnny was a disappointment to the couple. Plagued by asthma which was compounded from exposure to the chickens and pigeons that his father raised in the back of the house, the child developed a sickly and pale countenance.
Shy and unable to participate in sports due to his poor health, his classmates considered him a sissy and at home his father would constantly tell him that he lacked any redeeming qualities.
When his father died during his 12th year, things only got worse for John. His mother would berate and beat the child, often calling him a “mistake” that was supposed to have been a girl, all the while lavishing his brother, Larry Jr., with her affection.
His athletic and successful older brother also took up the pastime of abusing John. All this pressure led to a failed suicide attempt when he was 16 years old but, rather than draw attention to his misery, the act only resulted in more beatings at home and ostracization at school.
Adult life played out much as one would expect from this situation. Larry Jr. became a successful engineer, married John’s’ ex-girlfriend and had eight children with her. John flunked out of college, became a listless alcoholic who couldn’t hold down a job and moved back in with his mother after losing what little money he had in the stock market crash of 1974.
Over time insanity also began to take a hold on John. He developed a theory that his mother and brother, along with the FBI and law enforcement agencies, were conspiring to expose him as a homosexual and communist. Perhaps it was in response to these perceived accusations that he took up the one hobby he felt most masculine: firearms.
As Easter of 1975 approached, things were at their bleakest. The holiday fell on March 30th that year – just 1 day after John’s 41st birthday. Incidentally, this was also the milemarker that his mother saw as the “final straw”.
She informed him that he must repay all the money she had loaned him over the year and that he was being kicked out onto the streets.
Extremely depressed (and probably a little hung over) John slept through most of Easter Day while his mother, brother and sister-in-law conducted an egg hunt for his eight nieces and nephews.
At 4pm John came downstairs and engaged in some brief small talk with the family before announcing that he was going to go target shooting. He went back upstairs, retrieved several guns and came back into the kitchen.
As John was preparing to leave, his brother asked: “How’s your Volkswagen, Johnny?” This was the wrong thing to say, as John’s delusions led him to believe that his brother had been sabotaging his car.
Immediately after Larry Jr. made this comment John responded by raising a gun and shooting him between the eyes. Then he turned and shot his sister-in-law, Anna. Realizing that John had snapped, his mother lunged toward her son and he shot her twice in the chest.
Then he shot his stunned nephew and two nieces before stepping into the living room to finish off the five remaining children. The youngest, whose body was found dressed in blue corduroy bib overalls at the foot of the couch, held a partially opened purple foil wrapper of a chocolate egg in their outstretched hand.
Within 5 minutes, everyone but John was dead. Afterward, the man who neighbors described as very nice and polite sat on the couch and watched the blood of his eleven family members collect and seep through the floorboards and into the basement as the shock of his actions swept over him.
After 3 hours, John picked up the phone and summoned the police and peacefully surrendered. He is still alive today and currently serving 2 life terms at the Allen Correctional Facility in Lima.
One year later the house was cleaned out then sold to a mother, father and three children that were unfamiliar with its grim history. Not long after moving in the family started to experience strange and unexplainable events.
One night, as she was falling asleep, the mother noticed a hall light come on and saw the shadow of someone pass across the crack at the bottom of her bedroom door. As soon as she opened the door to investigate the light went out.
Walking into the kid’s room to see if one of them needed something, an uneasy feeling set in as she realized that everyone in the house, except for her, was sound asleep.
Not long after this the boy and his father were in the basement one day while the rest of the family was out doing laundry. Knowing that the others would not return for some time, the father and son were alarmed when they heard the front door open and the sound of someone walking through the living room, into the kitchen and up the stairs.
Thinking they were being burglarized, the father grabbed a weapon and cautiously crept up the stairs. Again, no living person was found. After this event the family decided they had experienced enough and abruptly moved out.
Another family left shortly after experiencing similar incidents, though, this time when the mother went into the hallway to see who was walking around in the middle of the night she saw a “colorless” and gaunt looking man in the hall looking into her son’s room.
When the horrified woman screamed the man vanished before her eyes. As she ran in to check on her son she found him staring at the doorway with a look of terror on his face.
Other stories have circulated through the years of residents hearing the sound of children playing in the unoccupied living room, faces that appear in the windows and on and on.
Current residents of the home have reported nothing out of the usual, though – other than being plagued by curious strangers wanting to see the blood stains that still exists on the basement floor joists.
Hopefully, this means the eleven family members that were sent to an early grave by a very sick relative have found peace.
Strangely enough, the neighborhood took another grim turn two decades later when a 25-year-old man brutally slayed and completely dismembered his 22-year-old girlfriend in an apartment across the street from the murder house.
After the tragedy neighbors would report seeing the figure of the murdered girl walking past the windows from time to time. The landlord, who moved into the apartment after the murder, also reported seeing and sensing the slain girl often.
So, while this small residential street has seen more than it’s fair share of murder and ghostly goings on and the true names and location of these crimes aren’t that hard to uncover, if you do find yourself in the area and want to take a look please be respectful. The current residents deserve some peace too!