New Book from Judge in Amityville Horror Murder Trial Tells Story of 4 Infamous Long Island Crimes

In Horrific Homicides, Judge Thomas M. Stark provides a behind-the-scenes look at the DeFeo murder trial and three other notorious Long Island murder cases.

Online PR News – 14-December-2021 – Riverhead, New York – In a newly released book, "Horrific Homicides: A Judge Looks Back at the Amityville Horror Murders and Other Infamous Long Island Crimes" (Archway Publishing, 2021), Long Island Supreme Court Justice Thomas M. Stark shares the stories of four trials that mesmerized Long Islanders in the 1970s and 1980s. No defendant was more notorious than Ronald DeFeo Jr., who in 1975 was convicted of shooting six members of his family in their beds, a crime that sparked tales of hauntings later recounted in the best-selling book The Amityville Horror: A True Story.

The shocking murders of the entire DeFeo family in Amityville, N.Y. in the early morning hours of November 13, 1974 — and the eldest son’s arrest for the crimes — is by now a familiar story. In Horrific Homicides, Judge Stark draws from his personal files to give readers an inside look at the brutal murders and dramatic trial, the frenzy over the alleged psychic events that followed, and DeFeo’s decades of shifting stories about what really happened that fateful night.

Readers will also learn about the murder-for-hire engineered by Frances “Vikki” Ardito, who enlisted two New York City gunmen to abduct her unfaithful paramour, Benjamin Mattana Jr., from their home in Lloyd Harbor and kill him in a Jamaica Bay marsh early on the morning of April 28, 1976. The most horrifying of the murders was committed by East Northport delicatessen owner Anthony Cisco, who convinced his teenaged clerk to throw an army smoke grenade through the front window of a neighbor’s house at 1:00 a.m. on May 10, 1980, causing the tragic deaths of a mother and three young children. 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.

A noted expert on criminal law — Judge Stark helped author New York State’s uniform jury instructions and supervised Suffolk County’s criminal courts for 14 years — the author also delves into the different provisions of criminal law and procedure that these cases touched on, from the strict requirements of the insanity defense to whether a defendant who did not intend to cause a death can be found guilty of murder to the legal interaction between intoxication and criminal responsibility.

Judge Stark died on April 27, 2014, at the age of 89, soon after finishing the manuscript but before the book could be published. His daughters, Elizabeth Stark Dugan and Ellen Stark, who grew up hearing stories of their father’s trials at the dinner table, updated the book based on Judge Stark’s trial notes, court filings, and news reports.

About the Author:
Thomas M. Stark (1925–2014) was born in Riverhead, New York, and graduated from Holy Cross College and Harvard Law School. During World War II, he was an officer in the US Navy. On his return to Riverhead, he served as Justice of the Peace. After being appointed to the County Court of Suffolk County in 1963, Stark spent six years on that bench before winning election to the state’s Supreme Court, where he sat for 29 years until his retirement in 1998.

From 1978 to 1992, Stark was supervising judge of the Superior Criminal Courts of Suffolk County. From 1985 to 1998, he served as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Term, Ninth and Tenth Judicial Districts. As vice chairman of the Criminal Jury Instructions Committee of the New York State Office of Court Administration from 1972 to 1992, he helped draft uniform jury instructions for the state; he remained a member until his death in 2014. In 1984, he was named Judge of the Year by the Suffolk County Criminal Bar Association.

Elizabeth Stark Dugan wrote and edited articles for a variety of publications, including Psychology Today, Health and Science 80.

Ellen Stark, a former deputy editor at Money magazine, is a freelance writer and editor specializing in business and finance.

For more information, go to or or email Review copy available upon request.

Softcover and e-book versions are available online from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Archway Publishing. Wholesale distribution by Ingram Content Group.

Title: Horrific Homicides: A Judge Looks Back at the Amityville Horror Murders and Other Infamous Long Island Crimes
Publisher: Archway Publishing, from Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-6657-1104-3 (sc)
ISBN: 978-1-6657-1105-0 (e)

visit our website