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George Lutz in "Long Island Newsday" (2005)

In this interview, George gives a list of inaccuracies in the 2005 MGM remake and touches on what was fiction and what was truth in the 1979 film and the original Jay Anson book.

 

Long Island Newsday

(2005)


NEWSDAY: IT'S BEEN NEARLY 30 YEARS SINCE YOUR FAMILY MOVED OUT OF THE OCEAN AVENUE HOUSE. HOW WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOUR TIME LIVING THERE AFFECTED YOUR LIFE?

GEORGE LUTZ: By the way you have phrased this question, I will have to assume that you mean the affects this has had on my own life since leaving the house in January 1976.

The affects of living through this are very difficult to try sum up in a few lines of text. I have never tried to list out for myself what the last 30 years has held in this way and I am not sure where to begin with such a task. There are a lot of these, I am sure, and one affect that comes to mind, that has stayed a constant, is a need to learn and try to understand why these kinds of things happen and how to deal with them when they do. As seems to be so often the case with any kind of supernatural event, they occur and are the result of a series of moments that build to them. In our case, having the priest come to bless the house and then our saying prayers and trying to cleanse the house, have been said to "trigger" a reaction that otherwise might never have occurred in the way it did.

We left that house and everything we owned because of the fear we came to know there. We believed it would only get worse unless we acted. We did not go back because some small affects of that fear had started to subside. The belief, the knowledge, that fear would return in full force was the result of trying to get the house "fixed" and our being told it would not be.

Those that came to help us document what was there were unable to tell us it was safe to return, and the affect of that was that this renewed the fear, and that left us absolutely and completely alone. We somehow, came to allow for the hope and belief to set in, that moving far away would help us to survive and heal. This does not always mean you get to put these affects behind you, and move on as completely as you might hope was possible. But since then things have only gotten better.

We can only be witnesses to what we experienced. An affect of this has become an additional purpose and as long as I live, I will not be silenced about the truth of our story.


NEWSDAY: AS WELL AS THE LIVES OF KATHY AND THE CHILDREN?

GEORGE LUTZ: I do not try to speak for Kathy and our children. Their personal lives are there own and private.

NEWSDAY: WHAT IMPACT DOES THAT EPISODE CONTINUE TO HAVE ON YOUR LIVES?

GEORGE LUTZ: That episode, as you term it, did not end in many ways. It seemed to take on a new life of its own at times, and even created a new term for us to describe its effect on others that tried to disclaim and use it for their own import. One impact of these events directly relates to our attitudes about skepticism. We have always believed that skepticism is healthy and natural because we considered ourselves to be very skeptical, even after moving in and various doubts started to set into our minds. As these formed, our beliefs were challenged and changed. The impact of this was that skepticism was not thrown out or set aside, but rather, it just became a tool to make us look deeper and pay more attention to everything that occurred from that time forward.

NEWSDAY: YOUR SPIRITUALITY, IF YOU HAD ANY?

GEORGE LUTZ: Spirituality questions are very personal and often misunderstood because they mean so many different things to each of us. What I may consider to be profound or an absolute may not even occur to you to consider even partially possible, so I really have no way to explain what these "Impacts" are to me and be sure that you understand what they mean to me.

It seems to me that only the intimacy that is created with friendship and relationships have the trust that allows for spirituality values to be shared. If I explain to you that I became a Catholic by choice immediately after leaving New York, does that in some way help you understand what I learned or value?


NEWSDAY: DID IT AFFECT YOUR GENERAL OUTLOOK?

GEORGE LUTZ: As far as a general outlook goes, I am sure this all has had long lasting effects. I have to at least try to treat each day as an adventure. Some days are so much more interesting and better than others, yet it is the bad ones that give value to the better ones. Without some sense of adventure, I believe despair sets in. It comes slowly and is insidious and relentless. We can chose to try ignore it and allow it to creep along and gain a foothold, or we can beat it back. Faith helps with this. With faith comes Grace, and Grace beats the hell out of despair every single moment of every day.

I have no misgivings about the fact that living through this made us "special" in some way, or even unique. It did not. These events are not usually made public for all kinds of valid reasons.

We chose to make our story public. We chose to stand up and say this happened. We chose to hold ourselves available for those that sought us out for understanding and help. We, as a family, continue to do that today. It is a purpose we have held on to .... and is most certainly an affect.


NEWSDAY: HOW OFTEN DO QUESTIONS OR ISSUES RELATED TO THAT TIME PERIOD COME UP IN YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE NOW?

GEORGE LUTZ: With this new "remake," there are now more of these issues that relate to that time period which come up in our everyday life. During a recent vacation, it only came up once and that was on the very last day. Time has shown me that it is necessary to get far away from it, for it helps to regain a bit of perspective about it all.

NEWSDAY: WHAT DO PEOPLE ASK?

GEORGE LUTZ: It's usually the specific events or moments that people ask about, and by that I mean they have focused upon a single and particular thing and want to know more about it than what may have been discussed in the book or subsequent interviews.

NEWSDAY: DO YOU LIKE TO TALK ABOUT IT? WHY OR WHY NOT?

GEORGE LUTZ: In a sense, it's good to have the opportunity to undo some of the damage and misinformation that has been created over the years, however, it's not a pleasant thing to have to recount, because in the retelling is also some reliving. There's really no way around that, but in doing so, it has to serve some kind of positive purpose or else it makes no sense to even try to do this.

NEWSDAY: DO YOU REGRET BUYING THE HOUSE?

GEORGE LUTZ: I have always regretted the effects that house had on all of us back then. I have always regretted having to call upon others to help us in dealing with it, because of the effects on their lives as well. I have always regretted that leaving New York, and our lives as we knew them, did not end the problem. However, I've never regretted the people we have become since then, but the process it took for us to get here today was not easy or even pleasant at times.

NEWSDAY: HOW MIGHT YOUR LIVES HAVE BEEN DIFFERENT IF YOU HAD CHOSEN TO LIVE SOMEWHERE ELSE?

GEORGE LUTZ: As for how might our lives have been different had we chosen to live somewhere else, your guess is probably as good as mine. This becomes a path not traveled, and imagining so only holds an endless series of "what ifs" that were not exercised in this life. I never would've imagined 30 years ago that there would be movies made about us, or years of lawsuits involving the rights to protect the use of even one day of our lives.

NEWSDAY: WHAT ARE YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT THE UPCOMING REMAKE OF THE 1979 FILM?

GEORGE LUTZ: As I write this I have not yet seen it. I am given to understand that it trades upon the name "The Amityville Horror" but does not reflect upon anything that we would consider to be an accurate portrayal of our experiences. We were not allowed to participate in helping to make this new version any kind of a true reflection of what really happened. The same goes for the 1979 version. We were excluded from being involved with the making of that one as well.

This new version could be called a "remake" just to capitalize upon the name, but the fact remains that they're using the story name only, and does not contain the truth as we know it to be.

My feelings about it vary from anger to sadness and contempt. I do hold a small hope that someday the movie going public as a whole will require that Hollywood changes the way it does business to reflect honesty and accuracy when depicting real people and real events. I believe that their required waivers and clauses are a joke when it comes to responsible depictions of living individuals.


NEWSDAY: I UNDERSTAND THAT LORRAINE WARREN, A PSYCHIC WHO PARTICIPATED IN A SΙANCE AT THE OCEAN AVENUE HOUSE AFTER YOU MOVED OUT, WAS AMONG THOSE CONSULTED ON THE REMAKE. WHAT INPUT, IF ANY, DID YOU HAVE?

GEORGE LUTZ: None. I had no input whatsoever. I was not asked to participate in any manner with the making of this new film. Kathy was not asked or consulted, nor were our children asked or consulted. MGM did however decide to sue me, after my attorney wrote them a few times and questioned their rights with regard to this "remake". There are a number of issues that we consider to be violations of various agreements, and those continue to be a part of this action. I do wish they had picked up the phone to discuss this, and I continue to hold some small hope they still will, but for now the case continues. It is quite possible that this will become even more involved after the film is released.

I have spoken with Lorraine about her participation, and she was given to understand that the movie they said they were making was a more accurate depiction of the contents of Jay Anson's original book. I believe when she finds out what they have done here, her reactions will include much of the same disappointment that I feel.


NEWSDAY: CERTAIN DETAILS IN THE REMAKE APPEAR TO DIFFER FROM YOUR ACCOUNT OF WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR FAMILY THERE – FOR INSTANCE, THE NEW FILM HAS YOU ATTEMPTING TO YOU KILL YOUR FAMILY AT ONE POINT. WHAT OTHER DISCREPANCIES DO YOU KNOW OF ?

GEORGE LUTZ: The continued fictionalization of the true events occurs because of the apparent disregard for the truth by the movie-makers. This is sometimes labeled as production cost concerns, or even rights to portray certain events differently because of the nature of the movie making industry requirements. In the end they just become excuses and clauses to do whatever they want. The same is true in any other part of life. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean that you should. If it is dishonest in its recounting and portrayal, it will only serve to mislead, misinform and defame.

NEWSDAY: AND HOW DID YOU LEARN OF THEM?

GEORGE LUTZ: Below is a partial list created from clips from this new version which I learned about from the Internet, television, interviews with the actors and producers, plus a few other sources. This list speaks for itself of what has been done here. I have learned that the characters and events portrayed in this movie are fictional, and that while the movie uses Kathy and George Lutz as the names of the main individuals portrayed, any other similarity to us has no basis in fact. Another way to put this might be that any similarity to the actual events seems to be accidental or placed within the "remake" just to trade upon the name.

It is completely untrue that:

€ anyone was stalked with a shotgun, or any gun was fired while we owned and lived in the house

€ there were attempts, let alone at least four separate attempts, to murder my family by me or anyone else

€ Harry, our black lab (not a sheep dog as the DeFeo family had) was hacked to death with an ax

€ any events ever took place on the roof of the house

€ our children tied me or anyone else up with a rope

€ anyone fell off the roof of the house

€ Kathy was a widow

€ the house was built in 1692

€ the priest who helped us was involved in any way with the DeFeo family

€ the priest came after we moved in, and not to bless the house

€ we were in financial trouble, or we had financial difficulties before or after buying the house

€ we previously lived in any kind of substandard house

€ we only had one boat, and it was an outboard

€ I owned a construction company, as opposed to a Land Surveying Company

€ I was not the sole owner of my Land Surveying Company

€ I was constantly chopping wood with an ax

€ we tortured and abused our children

€ I built coffins for Kathy and our children

€ there was any kind of ancient hidden torture chamber in the basement

€ any events with a baby-sitter and drugs or emergency hospitalization services ever occurred

€ "Jodie" was the ghost of one of the DeFeo children

€ the house was on a lake

€ I attempted to murder my wife, Kathy, with an outboard motor

€ we fled the house in the end by boat


NEWSDAY: ANY RESPONSE TO THE REMAKE'S PORTRAYAL OF PEOPLE AND EVENTS?

GEORGE LUTZ: It needs to be understood that the content of this "remake" is a work of fiction, and bears no resemblance to the original book. It appears to be an intentional act motivated by those interested in something much less than the truth. From what I have been able to determine so far, the following list contains the items within this "remake" that are true and factual:

€ Kathy and George Lutz bought and moved into a house in Amityville, New York.

€ Kathy had three children from a previous marriage that moved with them.

€ The house was the scene of an entire family being murdered a year before.

€ The Lutz family had a dog named Harry.

€ The house was on the water and had a boathouse.

€ The Lutz family had a phone.


NEWSDAY: WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THREE DECADES LATER THE DEFEO MURDERS AND THE AMITYVILLE HORROR CONTINUE TO HAVE SUCH A HOLD ON PEOPLE'S IMAGINATIONS?

GEORGE LUTZ: I have learned from talking with individuals on the discussion board at www.amityvillehorrortruth.com, the answer to this question becomes quite broad and varied. Some are merely curious, while others have had experiences of their own and desperately want to talk with someone who will not think they're crazy. Some are looking for proof that there is existence beyond the physical. Some are fascinated with the murdered DeFeo family. Some are looking for a road map to a paranormal experience for themselves and there are even some who come simply to heckle.

A great many will pick a single incident and grind it through the mill in an open discussion over and over again, unable to come up with a suitable answer for themselves. Sometimes the focus is: How did one young man kill a family of 6 with a high powered rifle and no one woke up ... not even the neighbors? Who or what was Jodie? What's the story behind the red room? Some will insist on a particular answer even though there is evidence to the contrary.

Quite a few of these people want to go see the house and I hear that some actually do. I heard that on a new Internet site, the day after the History's Mysteries episodes aired back in 2000, some man dragged his 8 year old daughter right to the doorstep, video camera in hand. I can't begin to tell you how much I advise against this. That house is a private residence. There are many public places where one can go looking for a paranormal experience, if that is what they think they must do.


NEWSDAY: ARE YOUR FAMILY'S BASIC BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS CORRECT AS OUTLINED IN JAY ANSON'S BOOK?

GEORGE LUTZ: To the best of my recollection, they were correct.


NEWSDAY: HOW OLD WERE YOU AND KATHY WHEN YOU BOUGHT THE HOUSE AND HOW LONG HAD YOU BEEN MARRIED?

GEORGE LUTZ: When Kathy and I had decided to buy the house, we were both 28 years old. By the time that we actually bought it and moved in, we had already been married for 5 months.

NEWSDAY: YOUR FAMILY MOVED INTO THE OCEAN AVENUE HOUSE LESS THAN A MONTH AFTER A JURY CONVICTED RONALD DEFEO JR. OF MURDERING HIS FAMILY THERE. WHAT RESERVATIONS, IF ANY, DID YOU AND YOUR WIFE HAVE ABOUT MOVING INTO A HOUSE WHERE SUCH A CRIME WAS COMMITTED?

GEORGE LUTZ: We agreed to purchase the house before the conviction had happened. By the day we moved in, Kathy and I had each sold our own homes and we were combining our households and starting out as newlyweds. Before we decided to seriously explore buying the house, we had looked at homes for months and we were quite aware of what each us liked and wanted. There were homes we had seen in that search that really discouraged us, but we had found one about a month earlier that we had made an offer on and we had brought our attorney into the negotiations to write up an offer. In the end, we had done an inspection that found that the roof was badly in need of repairs and the seller had become intractable about fixing this. That house was on the water with a boathouse and was in Lindenhurst. The boathouse needed dredging for our boat to be able to get into it and negotiating for a sale, or even making an offer subject to the repair of these things was not to be accomplished.

When we saw the Amityville house we immediately fell in love with the community and the setting. No repairs needed to be negotiated, and the price ended up being more than workable. We had to examine our own personal thoughts about the recent history of the property. Of the 50 or so properties we had looked at in the prior few months, there had never been one that we were told that a murder or murders had taken place in. There is a line in the first movie that goes something like "houses don't have memories"........and I do believe that in one way, it reflects our own beliefs at the time.

We were concerned for the children and what they thought about all this. We talked this over with each of them and together as a family for days before we ever entered into negotiations to possibly buy the house. Not a one of us had ever said that we would not want to live there. Kathy fell in love with the house the moment we walked in and each of us saw her reaction and found it to our be own as well.

After we had a mortgage commitment and figured out our costs, we were actually ahead on a monthly basis by hundreds of dollars. It was apparently not just a great deal, but it was thought to be practical as well. I think we did what anyone else might have.........we found what we wanted, thought about it, discussed it and revisited it and then decided if it could work for us as a family. When the offer we made was accepted we were excited and quite pleased that all those months of looking for a "new" home had really paid off.


NEWSDAY: WERE ANY OF YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE HOUSE DIFFERENT THAN WHAT WAS DESCRIBED IN THE BOOK?

GEORGE LUTZ: Yes, there were some experiences that were different than contained in the book. Some of what we went through was not written about by Jay Anson because he was working from cassette tapes we had made just for ourselves. After we left the house and moved into Kathy's mother's house, we sat down for days just talking about what had happened. It was kind of like a form of self help or therapy and it was not an easy or pleasant thing to try to do. These were disjointed rememberings that were only for ourselves and they were not easy to listen to afterwards. They were never done with the idea that someone else would ever listen to them, let alone work from them to write a book.

When the possibility came up to even have a book considered, we offered these tapes to Jay Anson to work from. Kathy had no desire to be interviewed or answer any questions until we were asked to discuss the events after the book was published. For all the years since, Kathy was answering from her own memory and not from anyone else's version of events.

There were eventually a series of galleys and drafts of the book sent out to us in California. Corrections were made as well as comments and additional questions were answered. Control of the content was always in the hands of others, yet the book still had about 14 corrections made to it in subsequent printings. Jay Anson did use some artistic liberties with regard to certain aspects of the story, such as the order of events and dates. Kathy and I always understood that there would be translation issues with regard to setting down on paper what had occurred.


NEWSDAY: DO YOU CONTINUE TO STAND BY THAT VERSION OF EVENTS?

GEORGE LUTZ: We have been on record about this for almost 30 years. We have never said we deny the contents of our story or what happened to us. We have always maintained how the book came about, and the method in which these events were recounted by Jay Anson.

NEWSDAY: AFTER MOVING OUT ON JAN. 14, 1976, DID YOU CONTINUE PAYING THE MORTGAGE ON THE HOUSE? WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO SELL THE HOUSE, AND HOW MUCH DID YOU SELL IT FOR?

GEORGE LUTZ: We never decided to sell the house. We didn't want the responsibility of passing it on to another family with whatever it was that was there. We continued making the payments on the house up until about June or July of 1976, when we finally decided to give the house back to the bank that held the mortgage on it.

NEWSDAY: WHERE DID YOU GO?

GEORGE LUTZ: After we left the house in Amityville, we temporarily moved in with Kathy's Mom. She was and always has been a terrific person. She took us in when we were truly terrified and unable to even begin to understand what we should do next. Without her help, I do not know what we would have done.

On Easter Sunday of 1976, some friends of ours went back into the house to gather up all of the food and clothing, and donated them to the Salvation Army. Sometime in May of 1976, an auction was held at which the remainder of our belongings were sold.


NEWSDAY: DID ANY OF THE THINGS YOU EXPERIENCED IN THE HOUSE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR FAMILY, EITHER TO OTHER ACCOMMODATIONS ON LONG ISLAND OR OUT WEST?

GEORGE LUTZ: Yes, they did, but they were not the same in many ways. One of the questions we were asked about this is contained in the lie detector test results posted on the website, www.amityvillehorror.com.

NEWSDAY: WHEN DID YOU AND YOUR WIFE MOVE TO CALIFORNIA AND WHERE DID YOU SETTLE?

GEORGE LUTZ: On Mothers Day, 1976, all five of us landed in San Diego with our Black Lab, Harry, a few suitcases, our hopes and a bit of faith that we would be able to start over, survive and even partially understand what had just happened which caused us to be there. We stayed in a motel for a month, then found a townhouse to rent and eventually we rented a brand new house.

NEWSDAY: TELL ME ABOUT YOUR LIVES SINCE THEN. DID YOU AND KATHY HAVE CHILDREN TOGETHER?

GEORGE LUTZ: Kathy and I had two children together after leaving New York. Today, all three of our daughters are ministers, and we are very proud of them.

NEWSDAY: DID YOU CONTINUE TO WORK AS A LAND SURVEYOR OR DID YOU FIND ANOTHER PROFESSION?

GEORGE LUTZ: I did not return to working as a Land Surveyor. I eventually returned to my first love which has always remained cars and motorcycles.

NEWSDAY: WHEN DID THE TWO OF YOU DIVORCE?

GEORGE LUTZ: We were divorced in 1988.

NEWSDAY: WERE YOU STILL IN CALIFORNIA AT THAT TIME, OR HAD YOU MOVED?

GEORGE LUTZ: We moved to Arizona in 1979.

NEWSDAY: WOULD YOU SAY THAT THE TWO OF YOU REMAINED ON GOOD TERMS?

GEORGE LUTZ: Kathy and I have always remained on good terms. In the year 2000, we were asked to appear together on camera for the interview that was done for the History Channel documentaries. It was Kathy's last on camera interview and her health continued to fail until last year when she passed away. Kathy never saw the first movie when it came out. She will not see the current version and for her memory to be dishonored in this fashion.......what has been done with this "remake" will never be forgotten by those that knew and loved her.

For many years, Kathy dedicated her life to feeding and clothing the homeless, and I believe that her spirit of giving has been an example that most of us can only try to emulate. She was my friend and partner, and for me, her passing will never truly heal.



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