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And according to Butch DeFeo’s defense attorney, William Weber, many of the Lutz family’s claims can be easily explained.

“They said there was green all around certain doors, and I said, ‘That’s the residue left after the detectives fingerprinted the area,’ ” says Weber. “They said they saw eyes outside a window, and I told them it was probably the neighbor’s cat.”
Weber says that The Amityville Horror story—which he was involved in conceiving before the Lutz family cut him out of the book project—also used details he had supplied to Lutz and was written with a large amount of poetic license for dramatic effect.

Even Butch DeFeo—the one person who would stand to gain the most from the perception that evil spirits actually lived in his old house—has stated his disbelief of the Lutz haunting.

“Where do you think the premise of the movies or the books came from?” An officer asked him at a 2007 parole hearing.

“I didn’t start it. The people who sold the house started it, making up the stories about…” DeFeo said, before he was abruptly cut off.

Butch DeFeo is the very definition of an unreliable witness. In the decades since the murders, he has changed his story countless times. “I’m going to be truthful with you,” DeFeo told a parole board in 2003. “I was so involved with heroin and alcohol, I was so out of control and trying to run away from myself, I really don’t know what happened.”

Still, at least two elements that are not a part of the official narrative pop up again and again: that there was a second weapon and that Butch committed the crimes with the help of his sister Dawn, who would wind up dead before the night was through.
“It’s common sense,” DeFeo told a parole board in July 2011. “One person couldn’t have done this. Not the way they said.” This opinion was shared by the attending medical examiner, who testified at DeFeo’s trial that he was “totally mystified” that a single person could shoot six people without waking anybody up.

In one version of events, which DeFeo described to author Ric Osuna in 2000, and which Osuna recounted in his book The Night the DeFeos Died, Butch and Dawn hatched the plan with two friends: They would kill their abusive father and enabling mother, make the murders look like a burglary gone wrong, and then drive their siblings to safety.

According to this story, Dawn first went to the children, who were in bed but not asleep, and ordered them to stay put no matter what they heard, because burglars were in the house. Then she and Butch, along with one of their friends, went to
their parents’ room with the Marlin rifle. Butch held the gun, but when he hesitated to fire, Dawn grabbed it and shot their father. Butch then snatched the rifle back and shot their mother.

The wounded father then rose from the bed. Butch shot him a second time, killing him. Their mother, meanwhile, was still alive, flailing and moaning in pain. The friend then pulled out a .38 revolver and shot her a second time, killing her, before dropping the gun and fleeing.

Butch ran after him and dragged him back to the house to help clean up the mess. But when they returned, they found that Dawn had taken a dark detour from the original plan and had killed their younger siblings. There was an altercation, in which Dawn grabbed the rifle and Butch overpowered her and shot her in the back of the neck.