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The Amityville Horror

Updated on March 25, 2012

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.

It was the house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville Long Island where the real horror began...
It was the house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville Long Island where the real horror began...

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.

Ronald "Butch" Defeo was charged with murder in 1974 and was convicted of killing his family in 1975. Thus began the horror!
Ronald "Butch" Defeo was charged with murder in 1974 and was convicted of killing his family in 1975. Thus began the horror!

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!

George Lutz and his family spent 28 days in the house in Amityville.
George Lutz and his family spent 28 days in the house in Amityville.

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 was written by Jay Anson.
The Amityville Horror was written by Jay Anson.

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."

The Movies

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?

See results

What about Ronnie Defeo?

Was Ronald "Butch" Defeo Jr. Possessed by Demons when he killed his family?

See results

Tell me what you think about the Amityville Case!

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    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      5 years ago from Indiana, USA

      Unfortunately I'm not a professional journalist and I only do the best that I can with the topics I choose to write about. I'm sorry that you're not happy with the information in this hub. If you can do better, please do.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Interesting but not factual regarding the murders. Too much on this relied on rumor and internet legend. If you're going to write about factual events, please do real-life research OFF the internet. A simple request to Suffolk County would have yielded you copies of the autopsy reports which clearly show that the victims were NOT all in the exact same position. That example is but one of MANY mistakes you made.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Good Story The Amityville House comes in # 9 on our most haunted places in the world.

    • profile image

      Bobby Lally, Reading,UK 

      9 years ago

      I visited new york last month, my third time, and this time I hired a car and visited the amityville house. It looks very different from the film. There was a 'for sale' sign outside so i contacted the agents and made an appointment for a viewing the next day. As i walked around the house it felt very spooky but i was surprised to see the flies were still in the small room. As i walked into the basement the stairs gave way and i fell through into buckets of red paint. Luckely the neighbours dog was there to assist me up. I went into the kitchen where the agent realising i was waisting his time told me to get out. I left in a hurry but forgot about the dog. i drove down the road but felt a little bad i had left that dog in the basement all by itself so i parked up and ran back for him. It was a good experience and i must admit after seeing the house i felt it was about time i watched the film. Lots of love, bobby

    • dwilliamson profile image


      10 years ago from Kamloops, BC

      Excellent work, EM!!! You rock!!!

    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      10 years ago from Indiana, USA

      Whikat, I will probably wind up doing some editing based on one of the links I included. I didn't wind up using the material in the hub itself and that was a mistake. It talks about a revealed conversation between George Lutz and the Defeo lawyer where the entire story was concocted as a way to get Butch Defeo a new trial ;)

      I don't think he was abusive, though it's really hard to say. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't have wanted stuff like that written about me as it was in the Anson book!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi E.M, this a good hub and very carefully thought out. I think if George Lutz really was abusive to his wife and family, it would have been very convenient for him to blame it on dark spirits and say it was the house was haunted. People who are abusive and aggressive always blame it on other people or the environment. Very interesting read. It thumbs up.

    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      10 years ago from Indiana, USA

      I don't know that this one reminds me so much of "House" but that's mainly because I focused on the more gruesome aspects of "House" than on the actual possession (i.e. the excecutions).

    • lxxy profile image


      10 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond

      Great going EM! Reminds me of "House," a movie series. Personally, I do believe in people being readily posessed. And no offense to Butch, but he never seemed like the brightest bulb in the pack.

    • scottaye73 profile image


      10 years ago from Michigan, USA

      This is a good hub. So EM, how would you vote on your own polls above? I am certainly open to the possibility of demons or a "conspiracy" but really have no idea on this specific case and wouldn't even want to guess. But, I like this hub for sure! ~ Scott

    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      10 years ago from Indiana, USA

      Thank you ladies :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      very good EM! I have always been interested in the Amityville story. I've watched the documentaries and the movies. The new one with Ryan Reynolds is my favorite. Great Job!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I liked the hub. but I don't know what to think of the actual Amityville story the Lutz's claim. Since there were people who lived there after them who had no problems with the house.

      My parents lived in a seriously haunted house in Anaheim Ca and they moved out within a few months because they were being terrorized by the spirits too. And whenever I drive by to check the old house out I see people are living there. I never hear about any weird stories from anyone after my parents moved out. But at that time in the 60's the house was very very haunted.

      Now maybe the Amityville house is haunted. But the residents that had lived there after the Lutz's said they never had problems. I saw them being interviewed years ago about it.

      I can't call it on this one..It might very well be haunted or it might have just been an attempt for fame by the Lutz....I guess we will never know. GOOD HUB!!

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 

      10 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Great hub, well done. I loved the topic as one I have always been fascinated by! Looking forward to more !

    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      10 years ago from Indiana, USA

      If there was a way to share audio I would have to share some EVPs we caught when we were living in North Carolina. I know, sounds weird, Christian talking about EVPs and all that, but they were amazong. Serious grade A stuff. One said "I'll snap yer neck ya bastard!" with a strong celtic accent!

    • waynet profile image

      Wayne Tully 

      10 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      EMF readings are funny things, in January this year a few of us went on a sort of ghost hunt down an old army bunker and there was emf readings off the scale and cold chills and eyes looking through a gunner window and that was quite scary as it was pitch black in the middle of nowhere!! I'll have to write a hubpage about it!

    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      10 years ago from Indiana, USA

      Thanks Wayne! You've got ten, which is amazing to me! Good grief!

      I don't believe he was possessed by demons. I couldn't find a link to the entire documentary (a clip of which I showed above), but it really shows him as... well... strange.

      I don't remember being scared by the movie. Or the book for that matter. Maybe I just don't scare easily? I've seen some weird things in my time, and experienced some strange things where there are high EMF fields. I guess it desensitizes you :)

    • waynet profile image

      Wayne Tully 

      10 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      I like the original film as it makes for good suspense and all that, but cases like this we'll never know the minds of those that kill, whether demons possessed Defeo? well that is up to those who believe demons exist.

      A great hub article here as I saw your forum post with your hubs so far in your challenge, well done!

    • Everyday Miracles profile imageAUTHOR

      Becki Rizzuti 

      10 years ago from Indiana, USA

      Oh gosh, me neither! My in-laws lived four houses down from the house in Long Island and I can't imagine! Apparently they can remember some crazy stuff going on there, and that was before the Defeos bought it!

      If you're interested, when you get a chance, read up on the conspiracy -- it's fascinating!

    • Uninvited Writer profile image

      Susan Keeping 

      10 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

      That story has always given me chills. I don't believe in possessed houses or whatever. But, there are a lot of stories about the house. I do know that I wouldn't want to live there. Great hub...


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