Most people whether you are a paranormal enthusisast or not, will have at least heard of the Amityville haunting. Dubbed as the Amityville horror thanks to a book, it has since been said to be a hoax from one of the parties involved. With that aside, people still refer to this as one of the most well known paranormal cases in history with many believing it to be true. So what is the story behind the Amityville horror?
In a town called Amityville, almost 30 miles from New York City, a horrible mass murder took place. On November 13th in 1974, Ronald J. DeFeo Jnr murdered his entire family in their sleep. Using a .35 caliber rifle, the 23 year old killed his parents and 4 siblings. He confessed to murdering his family in cold blood. This was very much a case of fact and really happened. At 6:30am, Ronald entered his usual bar and screamed "You got to help me! I think my Mother and Father are shot!". All six bodies of the family were found in their beds, lying on their stomachs and shot with a high powered rifle. They believed the time of death to be around 3:15am in the morning. Ronald claimed he had been at work and then at the bar when he came home to find the scene. His alibi didn't add up and with no signs of struggle, his story changed on many occassions before he finally admitted to the crime. On October 14th 1975, Ronald stood trial for the murder of his family where he plead insanity stating that he heard voices that told him to kill his family. The jury convicted him on 6 counts of murder and he was sentenced to 6 concurrent sentences of 25 years in prison. He story has changed many times and still to this day it is not known if he was assisted in the murders.
Ronald DeFeo Image: New York Daily News
Some say that this traumatic event was the catalyst that began the Amityville haunting.
13 months after the murders occured, the Lutz family bought the house at a drastically reduced price of $80000 due to the murders that had taken place inside. While the house was a bargain, they would last only 28 days inside the property. They experienced what was described as 28 days of paranormal terror. On February 13 1976, newspaper reporters were called into an Attorny's office in Long Island. It was there that they would first be introducted to George and Kathleen Lutz. They were newlyweds who left what they called their 'dream home' a month earlier with Kathleen's children. While there had been rumours in the community prior, it was confirmed during this meeting that the Lutz family left because they thought the house was haunted and they were reluctantly sharing their story. People came from all around and would camp out on the front lawn of the property to see if they too could witness any paranormal activity. 14 months after they first fled the house, it was sold for a further reduced price of $55000 to the Cromaty family. They and subsequent owners of the house have reported no further paranormal activity whatsoever and have gone public with this information through newspaper articles and magazines in the hopes that the public will leave them alone.
The Lutz Family Image: amityvillefiles.com
Some of the phenomena the Lutz family claimed to experience during their short 28 days at the property was:
Green slime oozing from the walls and over door knobs and keyholes
George Lutz claimed to wake at 3:15 every morning - the same time Ronald DeFeo murdered his family while Kathleen would have nightmares of the murders.
Swarms of flies were persisitent even though it wasn't a warm season of weather.
The family had a priest come in to bless the house due to the past murders. It is claimed the priest heard a voice scream 'Get Out' and he pleaded with the family to leave and not to live there.
The garage door opening and closing on it's own
A pig like creature with red eyes that would stare down George Lutz and he found the hoof style footprints in the snow.
George claims he has woken to find his wife Kathleen levitating and her two children Daniel and Christopher levitate in bed as well.
It is also worth nothing that George was said to have had a history of dabbling into the occult and that is what attracted him to the house in the first place.
In 1977, Jay Anson published a book in September 1977. The book was based on the paranormal experiences of the Lutz family as told by them to the author through 45 hours of recorded audio tapes where they spoke of their experiences. From this it spawned into many movies and documentaries and has been dubbed on many occasions as the 'Most Haunted House in America'.
20 days after the Lutz family had fled the property and it started to become public knowledge, Ed and Lorraine Warren were contacted by a Channel 5 news reporter who had worked with them on a previous investigation to alert them to the claims. Of course they went right over there..... with a team of reporters in tow. The Lutz family declined to participate as they refused to enter the house again. From their own accounts, the Warrens claim to have experience the following activity:
Ed was pushed to the floor by an unseen force in the basement while using religious provocation
Lorraine sensed a demonic presence and was also overhelmed with psychic impressions from the DeFeo murders
The research team said they captured the image of a little boy in a plaid shirt. Some believe it is the murdered DeFeo boy while others believe it was a member of the crew who was also wearing a plaid shirt at the time of the investigation.
Image of boy captured by research team during Warren investigation. Source: www.warrens.net
Research indicated that the land was used by a Black Magician by the name of John Ketchum. He previously had a cottage built on the land and when he died he asked to be buried there. The Warrens have also claimed that the Shinicock Indians at one point had an enclosure on the land. It was used to house the sick and insane and they were left in there to die. Lorraine Warren believed that all this negative energy associated with the land made it a magnet for demonic activity. There are some that believe that the voices the Ronald DeFeo claimed to have were infact caused by some sort of paranormal force. The same force that tormented the Lutz family.
While it was widely believed to be a hoax with one of the parties involved admitting so on his death bed, the Lutz family maintained the entire time until they died that it was geniune. They even passed a polygraph test. So who admitted it was a hoax? A very unlikely figure. You see George Lutz felt he had a lot of simularities to Ronald DeFeo. He even started drinking at the same local bar. He made contact with DeFeo's lawyer William Weber as he felt there may be a connection with the 'voices' DeFeo claimed to have heard and what he was experiencing. It was during this meeting that years later Weber admitted that they "created this horror story over many bottles of wine". Weber had planned to use the book to launch a new trial for DeFeo. He claimed that the voices they said DeFeo was hearing was embellished and exaggerated for the insanity plea. DeFeo has changed his murder story on many occasions, with one account widely believed that there may have even been a second shooter - his sister Dawn who was also a habitual LSD user. Ronald was also a troubled drug user which one could use to explain the 'voices'.
When people have explored the claims further, the following has been presented against the case:
The pig like creature was really the neighbours cat. Local sources have also maintained that it would be impossible for George to have found hoof prints in the snow as it did not snow during the time the Lutz family lived in the area. This is something the weather records also back up.
They say there was a swarm of flies no matter the season (as it wasn't in summer), it could have possibly been just a few flies and exaggerated.
The green slime that would ooze on the walls and doorknobs is said to be left over residue from fingerprint powder which was used after the DeFeo murders.
Some have even said that with George's past with the occult, anything paranormal he may of experienced was most likely from his own doing.
The book has likely embellished accounts to make them scarier for entertainment and then when film studios get a hold of this, they do their spin on things as well. The public have a tendancy to believe everything they read and see in movies. Most people are unaware of the confession of William Weber and the fact that this all went to court. The Lutz family went on to sue Goodhousekeeping magazine, New York Sunday Times, the Hearst corporation, William Weber author Paul Hoffman and clairvoyants Bernard Burton and Frederick Mars. They claimed misappropriation of their name and sued for stress, mental damages and invasion of privacy. Hoffman, Weber and Burton counter sued alledging fraud and a breach of contract as Weber believed that he was the main instigator of the story they made up and should be entitled to a cut of the money made from the story. The Lutz claims were dismissed. The judge ruled that "Based on what I have heard, it appears to me that to a large extent the book is a work of fiction, relying in a large part upon the suggestions of Mr. Weber."
Probably the most interesting fact here is that in the last 40 years with susequent owners, there have been no further reported hauntings at the property. Previous owners have said the only burden has been the public interest in the case with tourists often showing up taking photos and kids playing pranks by knocking on doors and window. One owner even had the address legally changed to try and detract attention from the property.
So now you have all of the facts. Do you believe the Amityville Horror was a case of real life horror or an elaborate story?
If you enjoy LLIFS, consider buying me a book (otherwise known as buy me a coffee but I don't drink coffee and I LOVE books). Your donation helps to fund the LLIFS website so everyone can continue to access great paranormal content and resources for FREE!Follow LLIFS on Facebook
Don't forget to follow the Facebook page for regular updates
Join the mailing list to receive weekly updates of NEW articles. Never miss an article again!
Buy the latest and past issues Haunted Magazine
Check out the books written by LLIFS