The New York man convicted of gruesomely killing his siblings and parents in 1974 — and subsequently inspiring the Amityville Horror franchise — has died. He was 69.
Ronald DeFeo died on Friday at Albany Medical Center. He was taken to the hospital from a prison in the Catskill Mountains on Feb. 2, state prison officials confirmed to PEOPLE.
DeFeo was serving a sentence of 25 years to life for shooting and killing his parents and four siblings as they slept in their beds, the he New York state Department of Corrections and Community Services told PEOPLE.
The cause of his death wasn't immediately known. Officials did not disclose the reason DeFeo was hospitalized to PEOPLE, citing privacy laws.
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The scene of six grisly murders went on to inspire the Amityville Horror books and movies.
One year after the murders, George and Kathy Lutz moved into the house. They reportedly lasted only 28 days there, claiming to have witnessed paranormal activity like odd noises, voices and green slime oozing from the walls. Their experiences inspired the 1976 novel The Amityville Horror: A True Story, which was turned into a horror film in 1979 and remade in 2005 starring Ryan Reynolds.
During his trial, DeFeo attempted to invoke the insanity defense, stating that he had heard voices in the house that encouraged him to murder his family.
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After his initial conviction, DeFeo pursued an unsuccessful retrial in 1992 in which he claimed that his sister had shot the rest of their family members before he shot her, the AP reported.
Over the years, the house has been up for sale several times, including most recently in 2016 when it was on the market for $850,000. At the time, the listing agent Gerald O'Neill told PEOPLE that locally, the story is known as "The Amityville Hoax."
"The whole story was made up," O'Neill said. "It was orchestrated to help with a potential demonic defense for the son who murdered his family."
George Lutz told ABC News in 2006 that some scenes in the book and movie – including the green slime – were embellished.
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