THE CRIMES

THE ANTISOCIAL SON

In the early morning hours of November 13, 1974, six members of the DeFeo family of Amityville, New York, were shot in their beds. A day later, the eldest son, Ronald DeFeo Jr., was arrested for the heinous crimes. Found guilty at trial a year later, DeFeo told interviewers shifting versions of the murders until his death in March 2021. The scene of the crime, a Dutch colonial home at 112 Ocean Avenue, lives on in the public imagination, thanks to the tales of hauntings recounted in the Amityville Horror books and movies. Read Ronald DeFeo’s New York Times obituary

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THE SCORNED WOMAN

Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.

—William Congreve, The Mourning Bride, act III, scene 8 (1697)

In April 1976, Frances “Vikki” Ardito enlisted two New York City gunmen to abduct her unfaithful paramour, Benjamin Mattana Jr., from their home in Lloyd Harbor, Long Island, and kill the motorcycle dealer in a Jamaica Bay marsh. While her accomplices were found guilty in the trial that followed, Ardito spent years in New York State psychiatric hospitals before pleading guilty to the crime. Read the April 1976 New York Times report of the alleged abduction. 

THE INCENSED DELI OWNER

Driven by a feud with neighbors over teenagers loitering outside his East Northport delicatessen, owner Anthony Cisco enlisted his clerk to throw an army smoke grenade through the front window of a neighbor’s house at 1 a.m. on May 10, 1980, causing the tragic deaths of a mother and three young children. Read about the neighborhood tensions in this 1980 New York Times article.

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THE DRUNKEN COP

The most inexplicable of the murders was committed by off-duty New York City police patrolman Daniel Gallagher, who ended his 24-hour alcohol-fueled celebration of St. Patrick’s Day by fatally shooting fellow officer Sergeant Jack Sweeney inside a moving car in Brentwood on the morning of March 18, 1981.