Weird News, Ghosts and the Paranormal.

Amityville: Gun Found-New Evidence?

By Thomas Spychalski

The Amityville Horror is a one of the most famous haunting cases ever to be recorded, mostly due to the fact that the haunting itself was the subject of a bestselling book, The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson, which was followed by the 1979 film of the same name. The house itself, as it looked at the start of all the hype, with it’s ‘eye’ windows on the third floor and it’s ominous exterior, was the perfect prop for a ghost story.

Fame first came calling to the property when the formers residents of the house, the Defeo family, were all murdered in their beds by the oldest son, Ronald DeFeo Jr, as he shot his four siblings and both of his parents while they slept.

After the murders, the house stood empty a little over a year until the house was bought by George and Kathy Lutz.. Later, they would claim that the twenty-eight days they spent inside the house were the worst days of their lives. They fled the house at the end of that period, never to step foot inside again.

But the story itself is not as simple as the book or film would make it appear. Not only are there some who believe the story of the haunted house on Ocean Ave was a money making hoax between the lutz’s and a number of possible parties, but the DeFeo murders themselves have become a topic for debate, with various theory’s surfacing about what really happened that night in November 1974.

One of the biggest issues people have with the DeFeo killings is that Ronald DeFeo killed all six members of his family without one of them waking up from the sounds of the rifle Ronald DeFeo used to commit the crimes, none of the neighbors heard a gunshot or noticed anything strange, and all the victims were found in bed, laying on their stomachs.

While some have explained these mysterious circumstances by claiming a paranormal origin such as a demonic or ghostly force covering up the reports of the rifle, others feel that Ronald Defeo did not act alone that night, insisting that it would be impossible for any one man to kill his family in that manner without at least one member of the household hearing the shots or reacting in some way.

Now amateur documentary maker Ryan Katzenbach claims that a dive team he sent into the canal behind  Ocean Ave has found proof that more went on that night them was officially reported, in the form of a handgun the dive team dredged from the bottom of the canal.

Katzenbach feels that this is evidence that more then one person killed the Defeo family in November 1974:

“We firmly believe that there was indeed a second gun involved in the commission of the crime.

How could a person walk through a three-story Dutch colonial and shoot six different victims, on two separate levels and no one got out of bed, no one put up a struggle?”

Katzenbach recently released the first part of a trilogy of documentary films about the DeFeo murders called Shattered Hopes, which contains his view that there was more then one shooter that night, including the possibility that the second shooter could have been Ronald DeFeo’s sister Dawn, who was also shot along with the rest of the family.

However, the Suffolk County Police Department are not at all convinced that this gun is evidence that they were wrong back in 1974, when DeFeo confessed to the murders. They are also skeptical of there having been any second shooter involved, according to Detective Lt. Gerard Pelkofsky:

“People are very creative and the Internet allows them to pull up items that they think are facts, when in fact, they’re not facts.”

However Katzenbach claims that the departments lack of imagination may have more to do with saving face then solving crimes:

“It’s a very famous case for Suffolk County. DeFeo has been sitting in prison for 37 years now. To open this up and to chance DeFeo getting a new trial, I just don’t think that’s the route they want to go.”

So it would seem that like a good ghost story, the debate over what really happened that night in November 1974 to the members of the DeFeo family goes on.

Meanwhile, Ronald DeFeo remains in jail as the lone murderer of his family members, as the gun gets examined by authorities, but due to how long the gun most likely spent at the bottom of the canal makes it hard to gauge what new information might really come from this discovery.

Is the gun found in the canal new evidence brought to light, or unrelated to the infamous events that took place on Ocean Ave? Let us know your take in the comments below.

(Via CBS)

5 responses

  1. Pingback: Disney Lawsuit: Legend or Fact? « News From The Spirit World

  2. s j

    Were there bullets from the handgun found in the bodies?

    April 2, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    • Ahh well that’s just it isn’t it?

      According to the police in 1974 there were no bullets from a handgun, only from a .35 Marlin Rifle…but some people believe otherwise.

      Personally, despite my odd feelings about why no one really tried to escape Ronnie and no one heard a thing, I still think DeFeo acted alone that night.

      April 2, 2012 at 8:41 PM

      • John

        I left something out in my long post. Katzenbach and Osuna are alleging that only one of 8 shots came from a gun other than Ron’s rifle. They assert that one of the bullets that killed Louise was from a handgun. So if true then this would mean the rifle was used three times in the master bedroom and then the handgun once. Then someone went room to room wiht the rifle killing the 4 children. How exactly does this address the fact that the kids were killed 1 by 1 with the same gun after the parents were murdered? Despite Katzenbach’s spiel it doesn’t change the fact. So Katzenbach basically implies that two peopel were simulatneously going in different rooms of the house which is how they killed them all without them getting out of bed and yet in reality his theory doesn’t change the fact that after the parents were murdered one gun was used to kill the kids one by one in their beds. This shows the deception that is at work.

        April 13, 2012 at 2:00 AM

  3. John

    Was the gun that was found in the canal used to commit the murders? Absolutely not the police are fully correct. A total of 8 bullets were recovered from the crime scene. A total of 8 bullets killed the victims, there were 8 bullet wounds total. The 8 shell casings those bullets came from were also recovered. Ballistic analysis determined that the 8 shell casings were Winchester Super X (Western Cartridge Co) brand cartridges and their caliber was .35 Remington which is a high velocity rifle round. The bullets were likewise determined to be Winchester brand in .35 Remington.

    The only way for another weapon to have been employed in the killing would be if there were more than 1 rifle capable of firing .35 Remington rounds employed or in the alternative more than 8 rounds were fired, at least one of the rifle rounds missed the victims and the caliber and brand of at least one of the rounds that killed the victims was misidentified as .35 Remington. Eight .35 Remington shell casings were recovered so we know for a fact eight .35 Remington rounds were fired. There were also eight wounds. Thus in order for one of the wounds to be from a weapon of a different caliber that would require 1 of the rifle rounds to have missed. In order for two of the wounds to be from a weapon of a different caliber that would require two of the rifle rounds to have missed. You get the picture. So in order for one of the rounds that killed the victims to be a different caliber that would require finding a rifle round that missed and ended up making a hole in the wall or floor somewhere. Police tore the house apart and never found any additional bullets. The hole that a .35 Remington makes in a wall or floor is significant and hard to miss. The book High Hopes contains a picture of the hole made by the rifle round that went off by accident in the floor of the Hick’s house. Nor did any of the subsequent owners of the house find any holes in the walls or floors made by a round that missed. Surely if one or more rifle rounds missed and police somehow missed it the subsequent owners would have discovered them.

    So problem one is that there were no extra bullets found as would be necessary in order for a weapon of a different caliber to have been used in the murders. Similarly there is no evidence that any of the bullets were misidentified.

    The gun found in the canal is an Iver Johnson Third Model Safety Automatic Hammer revolver. This model was produced between 1909 and 1941. It was available in 3 different calibers .22 rimless, .32 S&W and .38 S&W. The largest and most powerful of these three rounds is of course the .38 S&W. Still despite being the most powerful of the three, the .38 S&W is a low velocity round that is significantly shorter though somewhat fatter than a .35 Remington rifle round.

    It is impossible to mistake any of the 3 calibers that the Iver Johnson could potentially fire with a .35 Remington Winchester round. The .35 Remington is way too long and wide to be mistaken for a .22 or .32 round. It is also way too long to be a .38 S&W round. Just looking at how long it is will rule it out as being a handgun round. There are 3 basic types of firearm rounds. Handgun rounds, assault rifle rounds and rifle rounds. Handgun rounds are used in handguns and sub-machine guns. Assault rifle rounds are intermediate sized rounds. Rifle rounds are the largest rounds thus the most powerful and having the most range. Some smaller rounds like 22LR were made to be used in both pistols and rifles but large caliber rifle rounds like the .35 Remington can only be used in rifles. A firearm cartridge is made up of 2 parts the casing and the bullet. The bullet leaves the casing and flies out of the barrel to the target. Not only are the casings of rifle cartridges much longer than handgun or assault rifle casings, so too are the bullets much longer than handgun or assault rifle bullets. In addition rifles have much longer barrels.

    The longer cases mean more propellant is stored in rifle cartridges. More propellant means the bullets can be thrown further. In addition the longer the barrel the greater the velocity. The fact the .35 Remington is slightly narrower (.355 diameter to a .38 S&W having a .361 diameter) means the .35 Remington has less drag. So thanks to these 3 factors the .35 Remington is a high velocity round. The fatter .38 S&W round fired from a cartridge with much less powder from a gun with a short barrel explains the low velocity. Why is this important? Because low velocity rounds are unlikely to exit the body while high velocity rounds are likely to do so. Both bullets that hit Louise exited, 1 bullet that hit Ron Sr. exited, the bullets that killed John and Marc exited. Not only were all the bullets determined to be Winchester brand .35 Remington but nearly all of them were determined to have been fired from Ron Jr.’s Marlin Rifle. One of the bullets that exited Louise though was unable to be conclusively matched to his rifle. Simply based on the examination of the bullets it could have been fired by his rifle or another similar rifle. HOWEVER, there was more evidence- the 8 shell casings. The puncture made by the firepin, the breach mark and the extraction marks on these 8 casings were tied conclusively to Ron’s rifle which means all 8 were definitely fired by his rifle. This means that his rifle fired 8 shots not merely any old .35 caliber rifle. Since there were only 8 bullets found and 8 bullets fired by his rifle the 8 bullets had to be from his rifle. It is not even possible there was another rifle of the same caliber let alone a handgun used. So this is why the ballistics expert declared that even the .35 rifle bullet that he could not tie to Ron’s rifle on its own was definitely fired by Ron’s rifle. He took the evidence of the shell casings and deduced that the bullet had to come from the casing tied to Ron’s gun.

    The bullet that exited Louise but could not be definitively tied to Ron’s rifle is the bullet that Katzenbach is claiming was not a .35 Remington round but rather a .38 special round. .38 Special rounds are different from .38 S&W rounds. They are somewhat longer than .38 S&W though still significantly shorter than the .35 Remington and the diameter is .357 as opposed to the .361 of the .38 S&W. The fact the diameter of the .38 Special (.357) is so close to the .35 Remington (.355) is why Katzenbach claims it is easy to mix the 2 up. But he ignores that the rifle round is significantly longer and insists that it is a .38 special round that the police misidentified as a .35 rifle round. If you were paying attention the first question that should come to mind is if he insists that it is .38 special round but the gun he found didn‘t come in a version chambered in .38 special then shouldn’t he admit that the gun he found can’t be the gun he was searching for? Indeed, the only way the gun he found could be tied to the case is if he were totally wrong about the bullet being a .38 Special.

    As a practical matter apart from the fact that all 8 casings of all 8 bullets are already accounted for and were Winchester brand .35 Remington, and such bullets are too long to be either .38 Special or .38 S&W handgun rounds, there is another problem. Recall what I was saying about high velocity rounds being likely to exit the body and low velocity rounds being unlikely to do so. The bullet Katzenbach claims was a handgun round exited Louise. A .38 S&W round is not going to exit the body in that fashion, it doesn’t have enough velocity. So on top of the bullet that killed Louise being too narrow and too long to be a .38 S&W round (and too long and wide to be any of the other rounds the Iver Johnson Revolver the divers found could have been chambered in) it also can’t have been a .38 S&W round or it would not have exited the way it did. So there is no way the gun the divers found could have caused the wound that Katezenbach claims was caused by a revolver.

    These are not the only reasons why Katzenbach should admit that the gun his divers found can’t have been used in the murders. Katzenbach was not merely looking for any .38 special revolvers he could find. He was looking for 3 specific types of revolvers. Information developed by police is that Ron Jr. owned 2 different .38 Special revolvers (a blued snubnose and a black one with 4” barrel). Ron allegedly told Geraldine and Ric Osuna that Kelske shot Louise once with a Colt .357 Python (which can fire .38 Special rounds). Several items of questionable origin and dubious reliability claimed that Kelske owned a Colt Python. This is in fact the main reason why Katzenback believes one of the bullets that killed Louise was a .38 Special round- because admitted liar Geraldine and credibility challenged Osuna claim that admitted liar Ron Jr claimed such. In addition Katzenbach argues that the only reason to throw the holster in the Sewer was if a handgun had been used in the crime. So even if the story about Kelske was false he argues that then Ron Jr used one of his 38 specials and merely lied by attributing the handgun shot to Kelske.

    Thus the diving team was searching for a Colt Python, blued snubnose .38 special or 4” barrel .38 special. These are the only revolvers that could be tied to Ron or Kelske with even marginal evidence. The Iver Johnson they found is clearly none of these so that right off the bat should have made Katzenbach say damn it wasn’t what we were looking for. The fact it could not fire .38 Special is another strike. Yet another strike is that the holster found in the sewer is way too big to house the Iver Johnson the divers found. But there are even more reasons to doubt any link. Ron disposed of a loaded rifle without damaging it in any way. The Iver Johnson had the hammer broken, grips removed, coil spring removed and the entire upper receiver that housed the barrel, cylinder and shells. Why would he go through the trouble of destroying it if it had fired only one of the rounds but not destroy the rifle which had fired 7 of the rounds that killed the victims? Moreover, why would he dispose of it where it would be easy to find instead of the mouth of the canal like he did with the rifle? If he never told police where he dumped the rifle they never would have found it. The condition of the gun makes it pretty clear the gun broke and was worthless and that is why someone tossed it in the water. The missing part could be used on another gun so was worth saving as would be the grips.

    There are more reasons to doubt Kelske’s involvement. For one thing if Kelske were involved then he would not want Ron to get caught because Ron would then rat him out. So if Kelske had been involved then he never would have told the police what he did. Before Ron confessed he told the police that Ron was a gun nut who knew everything about guns, that Ron’s parents have given him his guns back (another witness had told police Ron’s parents took his guns away and when asked about this Kelske said that was just temporary they gave them back) and that Ron was looking for a silencer. If Kelske had been involved he would have lied and not indicated they gave his guns back, moreover he never would have mentioned the search for the silencer. That suggests he was planning killing them for some time. At the time he told police this in passing it is pretty clear he had no idea Ron was involved in the murders or he would never have said it. Could the bullet that exited Louise have come from a Colt Python? No the gun that fired it had a right twist. Even Katzenbach admits all the bullets exhibited signs of being fired from a gun with rifling to a right twist. Like all Colt revolvers the Colt Python has a left twist so can be ruled out even if it had been a .38 special round. So even if Ron did say that Kelske shot Louise with a Python this is another of his impossible fairy tales.

    With the Kelske Python tale out now what? Katzenbach says that if Ron lied about Kelske using a revolver then it means Ron used a revolver. He assumes that Ron was telling the truth about the revolver and simply lied about Kelske being the one who used it and that it was he who used it. Why would Ron use a Revolver just once though? The only reason to switch guns would be if he ran out of ammo and had no time to reload. The rifle magazine holds 6 rounds and the rifle can hold 7 total if you chamber a round and then load another round in the mag. Firing 3 rounds with the rifle and then a 4th with a handgun makes no sense. But we are supposed to believe this senseless claim anyway even though the ballistic evidence contradicts it. Why? Because Katzenbach insists a handgun had to be used or he would not have thrown away the holster. For all we knows the holster was stored in the rifle bag and Ron took it by accident without realizing it was inside. If we believe Ron’s story then the rifle bad was disposed of for no reason either. I personally believe that Ron stored the rifle in the rifle bag until he tossed the rifle in the Ocean and then got rid of the bag with the other evidence. A pillowcase is too short to cover a rifle so his story that he had the rifle in a pillowcase doesn’t ring true, a good portion would be sticking out. More likely is he had it in the rifle bag. If he didn’t have it in the rifle bag till he tossed it in the ocean then he dumped it for nothing. He had a 22 caliber Marlin rifle and shotgun on his wall. Thus police knew he had a rifle and shotgun already the bag would not have given a secret away and they would explain why he had the rifle bag. There was no reason to dump it. If he tossed it in the pillowcase he did so because he was not thinking and it could be the same reason the holster ended up there.

    Ultimately Katzenbach’s suspicion is based on the holster and alleged claim by Ron that a .38 Special revolver was used. The evidence though refutes the suspicion. High velocity pistol rounds like 9mm for instance do have a habit of exiting bodies. In contrast slower .38 special rounds much less so. So the wound much more likely was caused by a higher velocity round than a .38 Special. On top of that the round in question is too long to be a .38 Special round and was determined to be a .35 Remington rifle round. Again there were only 8 wounds, only 8 bullets found and 8 casings were also found. Those 8 casings were matched conclusively to Ron’s rifle, his rifle fires 8 shots. If the second bullet that hit Louise was fired from a different gun this would mean that one of the 8 shots fired from Ron’s rifle would have to have missed but police found no such evidence. There were no bullets lodged in the walls or floors.

    The totality of the evidence makes it clear that all 8 rounds that killed the family are the only 8 rounds fired in the house that night and all 8 rounds were fired by Ron’s rifle. This precludes the entire theory about a revolver being used.

    Even if it had not precluded such and a .38 Special had been used to fire one of the rounds the gun found is not one of the types of guns tied to the suspects and can’t even fire .38 Special rounds at all. This alone says it can’ have been the gun Katzenbach was searching for. The other things I mentioned about it being too small for the holster, broken etc also precludes it being tied to the crime. Katzenbach stating it was the gun he was searching for proves that he was willing to accept any handgun found in the canal no matter what as being involved. The fact he was ready to claim anything found was tied no matter what seriously undermines his credibility given experts said there definitely would be guns there. Bodies of water are a favorite choice of disposing for firearms whenever lakes etc are dredged sizable numbers always turn up.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:37 AM

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