The Amityville Horror
It's the kind of house that seems to have a personality. It looks out at you through the half-moon windows that really resemble eyes, and the house itself seems to give off a sense of forboding. If you aren't afraid of the Amityville house, perhaps you don't already know its story, don't know all of it, or perhaps you simply don't believe...
The story began not with the famous Lutz family (depicted in the 2005 movie), but with the Defeos. More specifically, it began with Ronald "Butch" Defeo.
A simple search will lead you to a variety of mis-information and mis-represented stories of the house in Amityville. Open a discussion with a friend or colleague, and the arguments given in defense of the story and against it are various and fascinating.
The Amityville House
The "Amityville House" at 112 Ocean Avenue in Long Island is the setting of one of the most horrific mass murders of the twentieth century. Built in 1924 for John and Catherine Moynahan, the house's main feature was once the two quarter-circle windows on the upper story. It was these windows that gave the house its distinctive look, thought they were classic at the time the house was built.
The Defeo Murders
While the Amityville Horror was once an oft-discussed topic, it is often overlooked that the horror truly began some time previously, during the time that the Defeo family spent living at 112 Ocean Avenue. It was in 1974 that Ronald "Butch" Defeo ran into Henry's Bar in Long Island, declaring that he believed his parents had been shot.
Defeo returned with a small band of men to the house. His parents were discovered in their bed, both lying face down. They had been shot in the back with a .35 caliber rifle.
Ronald "Butch" Defeo Jr. was taken to the police station for his own protection after he told police that he believed the killings had been carried out by a mob hit man. The next day, however, he confessed to carrying out the killings on his own.
Ric Osuna's book The Night the Defeos Died tells the story of the grisly murders, and particularly if you aren't interested in the more fantastic parts of the story, you might be interested in this down to earth book.
The film clip below, on the other hand, does discuss the (possible) supernatural aspects of the Defeo Amityville case.
Supernatural Homocide? Ronnie Defeo was charged with murder and convicted!
The Lutzs Move In
On December 23, 1975, George and Kathy Lutz moved into the Amityville house. Both George and Kathy were on their second marriage and each of them brought children into the marriage. They purchased the house at below the asking price, and both of them felt that the house was perfect for them.
For 28 days the Lutzs stayed in the house at 112 Ocean Avenue. The events that occurred during that time are something of a mystery, and the truth has been difficult to deduce. In 1977, Jay Anson published his book The Amityville Horror. The story shocked and horrified readers, presenting them with a version of the tale that included George Lutz becoming abusive towards his wife and step-children.
The Amityville Horror
The Lutz stayed in the Amityville House for 28 days. Later on, George Lutz would make claims that during the period of time that his family spent in the house, many horrifying things happened.
It began when the house was blessed. A friend, having learned of the house's history, pressed George Lutz to have the house blessed. Lutz's former wife was a Catholic, and it was through her that he had met a friend, Father Ray. Father Ray was invited to the Lutz home to bless the premesis. The priest was also a lawyer, a judge and a psychotherapist.
While the Lutzs were unpacking their boxes and settling in, Father Ray began to bless the house by praying and sprinkling holy water in the house. It was during this time that he heard the distinct, masculine voice tell him to "Get Out."
Purchase the Movies on Amazon
The movie, released in 1979, received poor reviews. In spite of it's poor reception by critics, however, the audiences loved it, and it brought in more than $86million at the box office. The movie was filmed without a script. Reviews of the movie call it "very effective" and state that "The Devil is the best monster there is!"
Probably due to having been filmed unscripted, the Amityville Horror (1979 movie) was very different from Jay Anson's book, including several changes of names.
In 1982 a prequel was released. This movie doesn't "add up" very well to the original Amityville Horror, which showed the actual events of the Defeo family murdered in their beds. The end of Amityville II, The Possession shows the family attempting to escape from the house. This movie is loosely based on the Defeo case.
In 2005, a new movie was released as a remake of the original 1979 film. The recent movie, however, changed several of the key points in the book, and while the movie was interesting, in many ways it fell flat.
The Big Question
When Ronnie Defeo killed his family that night, why did none of them wake up when they heard the gunshots?
As you can see if you watch the video above there are theories about what could possibly cause this to occur. It is common modern mythology that the house at 112 Ocean Avenue was possessed by evil spirits. Whether or not you subscribe to this particular belief, it surely is an interesting question and an interesting case.
Other questions that are left unanswered are:
- Why were all of the Defeo family found in exactly the same position.
- Did Ronald Defeo Jr. act alone, or did someone act with him?
- Was he crazy or possessed?
Ronald Defeo Jr. has continued to deny that he acted in full consciousness. He was sentenced to six consecutive sentences of 25 years to life (which he is still serving). Documentaries about the case include his testimony that he was "close to his father" and that his family was tightly knit.
Fact vs. Fiction
The story of the Amityville house at 112 Ocean Avenue has become a modern myth. Fact and fantasy seem to combine in this case. The story certainly makes a terrifying horror story, but how much of it is actually true?
Let's examine what we know:
- The house is real and its location fact. The house has changed a bit since 1975.
- The house was built in 1924.
- Both parents and four of the five DeFeo children were murdered in the house in 1974.
- Ronald Defeo Jr. confessed to murdering his family and was convicted of their murder in 1975.
- The Lutzs were a blended family, George and Kathy both divorced.
- George and Kathy both brought children to the marriage.
- The Lutz family moved into the Amityville house in 1975.
- George and Kathy moved the family out of the house 28 days later.
- There were no police calls made during the 28 day period that the Lutz family spent in the house.
George Lutz's story is fantastic, but could it be true? Some people say that it is, and even many broad-minded skeptics have been forced to admit that there was something fishy about the Ronnie Defeo case. Most now believe George Lutz's story to be completely a hoax, though there are still who that believe the story to be true.
The individual will need to make up their own mind about the story. The resources included here should give you some ideas of where to start!
Amityville Sequel on Amazon -- No pictures, sorry!
What do I believe about Amityville?
There was once a time I believed in this case. I was probably about fifteen years old when I first read the Amityville Horror by Jay Anson. I spent most of my life believing in ghosts, and I was wide open to the idea that the story could be plausible. In fact, being young and perhaps gullible, I believed every word that Jay Anson wrote.
As I got older, however, I read the "sequel" books (Amazon is showing unavailable) and I realized that the story had become so convoluted that I could no longer follow the thread. I was frustrated, and began to dig deeper, looking for answers.
I believe that Ronnie Defeo killed his parents and siblings. I don't believe that there is any conspiracy. There were no signs of struggle or sedative in the bloodstream of any member of the Defeo family, and that leaves me open to wondering how it is possible that "Butch" Defeo killed his family without anyone hearing the shot from his gun. All of them were laying in the same position, and all of them were shot in the back.
At the same time, I find it difficult to accept Lorraine Warren's point of view on the subject (see the video). Since the Lutz family moved out of the house, there have been no further events reported at 112 Ocean Avenue. If there really was something lurking in Amityville, did it leave with the Lutz family? And if it did, why?
The sequel to Jay Anson's book talks about the exorcism of George Lutz and discusses the idea that the evil might have followed them. However, I understand that prior to the publication of this book, word was that the Lutz family had no further experiences after moving out of the house. The story left George Lutz wide open until his death in 2006.
I'm not sure that I believe he did it for the publicity, and the family wasn't poor. So what were George Lutz's motives if he did, in fact, concoct the entire case?
I'm not sure. Are you?
What do you think about George Lutz?
Was the Amityville story a publicity grab by George Lutz?
What about Ronnie Defeo?
Was Ronald "Butch" Defeo Jr. Possessed by Demons when he killed his family?
- Amityville: Horror or Hoax?
This page examines the facts and fallacies of the story behind the Amityville Horror. The page digs very deeply into the story of Amityville and the reasons how and why the hoax might have occurred. A very interesting piece of writing: a must read!
- The Amityville Horror Website: Hosted By George Lutz
This is the official Amityville Horror website, founded and hosted by George Lutz until his death in 2006. It's an interesting site but focuses mainly on the recent affairs of George Lutz rather than on the Amityville case (perhaps wise).
- George Lutz interview - Amityville Horror
This is an interesting and in-depth interview with George Lutz on Ghost Villiage. The main site includes an awesome forum for anyone who is interested in ghosts and hauntings and you might want to have a look! The interview goes quite deep!
- snopes.com: The Amityville Horror
Snopes.com is a massive site dedicated to debunking and explaining common urban legends and modern myths. This is the page for the Amityville Horror, with some facts in the case that indicate the falsehood of the story as told by Jay Anson.
- The Amityville Murders
More than anything, this site screams "buy me!" The site promotes the book "The Night the Defeos Died" which can be purchased from this hub. The page linked gives glimpses into the material inside the book, however, and you might want to try it out.
- The Amityville Horror - Wikipedia
I don't often include Wikipedia articles, but I found this interesting because the page does discuss the criticisms of the Jay Anson book. An educated discussion of the subject does require knowing both sides of the story and Wikipedia has done well.