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Father Ray , George & Kathy Lutz on "In Search Of..." (1979)

Transcript of the 1970s paranormal investigative TV show's look at The Amityville Horror – notable for its rare interview with Father Ray (the priest who blessed the Lutz home and who heard the infamous "GET OUT" voice) and its semi-rare interview with author Jay Anson.


In Search Of...
(Oct 4, 1979)

Leonard Nimoy is the show host & narrator

LEONARD NIMOY: A recent motion picture has mystified and frightened thousands of movie-goers. Most people think The Amityville Horror is a good, scary ghost story. What is not commonly known is that the film is actually based on fact. Its a true story. Was there an evil presence living inside this house?

The house of horrors is in Amityville, Long Island – an unlikely target for an evil curse. Amityville is a pleasant New York suburb. The name "Amityville" means "town of friendship." The house that was for sale at 112 Ocean Avenue was a dream-turned-into-reality for the family of George and Kathy Lutz.

KATHY LUTZ: I described the house as charming the first time I saw it because that's what I thought of it.

GEORGE LUTZ: The [unintelligible] and I say, "Kathy, do you believe this?" And she said, "No, I don't believe this." Its a lovely house. We don't feel there's anything wrong with the house. The house is a – its a happy house. Its a house to be – to have a good time in. To have parties in.

LEONARD NIMOY: Everyone in the area knew that the year before, a family of six had been murdered here, so no one wanted to buy the house. The price was very reasonable. George and Kathy decided to ignore superstition and buy it.

They settled into their new home just before Christmas. As is common with many Catholic families, Mrs Lutz asked her parish priest to stop by and bless the house. This blessing began in the sewing room, and seemed to set off a chain reaction which would jeopardize the lives of everyone involved.

Because of criticism later leveled by other Church officials, the priest has never before talked to anyone in the media. In Search Of was able to locate him, and he agreed to tell us his story, but only if he could remain anonymous.

FATHER RAY: I was blessing the sewing room. It was cold. It was really cold in there. And I thought, "Gee, that – this is peculiar," because it was a lovely day out, and it was windy, yes, but it didn't account for that kind of coldness.

I also started sprinkling holy water, and I heard a rather deep voice behind me saying, "Get out." It seemed so directed toward me, that I was really quite startled. I felt a slap at one point on the face. I felt somebody slap me, and there was nobody there.

LEONARD NIMOY: Later, George and Kathy couldn't believe that flies could be swarming in the dead of winter. Then they puzzled over a toilet that when flushed...

These and other events began to unnerve them. Strange events also affected the priest who blessed the house. He discovered blisters were festering on his hands.

FATHER RAY: I went to the doctor for it, and he couldn't explain it. He thought it might be caused by anxiety, and of course that's – that's feasible – but I don't think I'm given over to psychosomatic responses.

LEONARD NIMOY: He called the Lutzes to warn George and Kathy. Noise interference prevented any communication. He could never get through. Unexplained phenomena in the house increased.

GEORGE LUTZ: Each room had its own...

KATHY LUTZ: Personality?

GEORGE LUTZ: ...own thing, yeah.

GEORGE LUTZ: In time you couldn't deny that something was very wrong because too many things didn't add up.

LEONARD NIMOY: Frightening spirits seemed to inhabit the whole house. Kathy felt compelled to talk to the priest. She wanted him to come back and bless the house again. Further attempts to communicate with the priest, however, seemed to be sabotaged. A faulty phone connection? Perhaps.

For almost a month, George Lutz was attacked by a sensation of intense cold. For days on end he would neglect his work and his appearance, constantly stoking a fire that never warmed him enough. His personality began to come apart, bringing emotional surges.

GEORGE LUTZ: Confusion, anger – anger misplaced because I would direct it at Kathy for no reason. Moodiness. I lost 20-25 pounds there, easily, during that 28 days. I didn't eat. I didn't go to the office. My values were such that the only thing important was to keep warm and keep the fire going. Everything was very erratic – our own behavior was erratic.

LEONARD NIMOY: George still believed he could take things in hand and cope with the unknown horror.

JAY ANSON: Because I do know when I met George in the first place, he was very... [Leonard's narration interrupts]

LEONARD NIMOY: Jay Anson is the author of the book The Amityville Horror.

JAY ANSON: He's an ex-marine, built like a bull, and he's the type of guy that could handle any situation with his fists. He literally can. So that when he was approached with this kind of phenomena, he had no idea what he was coping with. None at all. He didn't even know the meaning of the terms in phenomena.

LEONARD NIMOY: A new problem plagued the Lutzes. The son of the previous owners had shot six members of his family while they slept in this very house. George and Kathy now were experiencing vivid nightmares in which they relived the murders as though they were the victims.

Difficult as it was, the family tried to maintain a normal existence. But each day something else strange and frightening would be discovered.

KATHY LUTZ: On one particular afternoon I was going about the house, rearranging furniture and setting up some storage. I went down into the basement. I went over to one bookcase which was on the end, and I moved it. And much to my surprise there was no wall behind it – it was the entrance into this small, brightly painted red room. And I was really surprised and alarmed by the find.

GEORGE LUTZ: The most impressive thing was when we took Harry around – he would not go anywhere near it. He backed right out of there and ran up the steps.

LEONARD NIMOY: This red room was not in the original house plans. Why? Who built it? And what possible use could it have? To this day these questions have never been answered. George and Kathy could only wonder about the ominous little room. It was just one more aspect of the house they didn't understand. Even the normal rooms caused strange reactions.

KATHY LUTZ: Missy would sing constantly within the room. And if you called her out or if she came out for one reason or another, as soon as she crossed over the threshold she would stop singing. Crossing back again, she would pick up the song from the word that she had stopped on, and continue.

LEONARD NIMOY: Missy boasted of her new playmate. Someone or something named Jodie. "Jodie," said Missy, "could take any shape – a doll, a teddy bear, even a pig." And Jodie could only be seen by whomever he chose, and he had remained invisible to Kathy and George. Missy even drew Jodie in crayons.

George and Kathy were amused at their daughter's fantasy – thankful that the terrifying events had not yet touched her. Their amusement faded quickly into hard fear when Jodie made his presence known to them.

GEORGE LUTZ: Missy told us later that her friend Jodie could not be seen, actually seen, by anyone unless it wanted them to. And that at times it was a little bigger than a teddy bear and other times it would be bigger than the house. That Jodie had the ability to change its size.

One night coming back I looked up at Missy's room and there was a shape in her room – that I didn't know what it actually was. I was coming back from the garage one night. But I would go out to the boathouse for no reason and check everything out, then go back – I'd do that a couple of times a night. The reason I mention that is because our behavior changed, our – the way we would go about living. I would go from the fireplace to the boathouse constantly.

LEONARD NIMOY: No longer did George and Kathy feel they were alone. The Lutzes felt driven to rid their home of the evil intruder. They decided to re-bless each room themselves.

GEORGE LUTZ: That's when things really got bad. We tried to kick out what was there, and it didn't want to go. You go around, you open a window in each room, and say the Lord's Prayer, and you command it to get out of that room, and you go on to the next room. But it didn't want us to go around blessing each room and commanding it to leave. In the name of God, we would go around and do that. And when I finished the first time we heard a chorus of voices scream out "Will you please stop" what you're doing, you know. So that convinced us that what we had tried to do didn't work. And things got very bad that night.

KATHY LUTZ: We had gone to bed that night and I went into a very deep sleep. George woke me, and he had backed up from me, and I couldn't understand the repulsion in his face. And when I looked up I saw what caused him to back away, and that was my reflection in the mirror. My hair had turned color – there was no true color – it was a grey-white. My face was severely wrinkled, deep impressions coming down across the forehead. My mouth was very tight, very drawn. And the feelings that were going on were confusion, illness – just trying to grasp all of me, you know.

LEONARD NIMOY: By morning her frightening appearance had vanished. George continued to be obsessed with fire. He would stare endlessly into the flames. Slowly the chill gripped his very soul. The searing heat was etching a demonic face into the fireplace. It was staring out at him through the flames. What would happen next?

GEORGE LUTZ: We felt absolutely no sense of salvation or outside help.

LEONARD NIMOY: They feared for their sanity – their very lives.

GEORGE LUTZ: Yeah, all kinds of things were going on that night. Noises were going off downstairs. Front door slamming. Dog's getting sick. The kids' beds are being levitated and dropping down.

LEONARD NIMOY: The constant barrage of increasing terror finally made the Lutzes realize they couldn't go on.

GEORGE LUTZ: And that was the last night we spent in the house, then, because that was – it was ridiculous to even consider staying there – and yet it was very hard for us to leave – to just organize all five of us into the same room and actually get out to the van and get it started and drive away with the dog.

LEONARD NIMOY: Only 28 days after moving-in, the Lutz family abandoned all their possessions. Everything they owned. Possible explanations as to what really happened in Amityville will be examined next.

JAY ANSON: I'm a journalist. I try to investigate as best as I can. When you first hear the Lutzes' story, it sounds like a very good haunted house story...

LEONARD NIMOY: Author Jay Anson.

JAY ANSON: But then I spoke to the priest at his apartment in the Rectory. And when I heard his story, and was able to put together a chronology of the events that took place within that framework of 28 days, I was convinced there are things out there that many people can not explain. The phenomena that occurred to the Lutzes and to the Father, I sincerely believe they took place.

LEONARD NIMOY: The Amityville house seems peaceful now. There is no evidence that any strange events have occurred here since the Lutzes fled. "In Search Of" has previously investigated haunted houses, and we've found that in many cases a human tragedy, such as a murder, has left emotional memories. This may be the explanation for The Amityville Horror, or there may have been a much more dangerous force – what psychics and priests call "demonic." Pure, destructive energy as ancient as time, itself.

The nightmares the Lutzes had experienced about the murders previously committed in the house caused Kathy and George to investigate the circumstances. Ronald DeFeo had murdered his father, mother, two brothers and two sisters. Sentenced to life in Clinton State Prison in New York, DeFeo has claimed that demonic voices goaded him into committing the gruesome killings.

Neighbors and acquaintances of DeFeo were astonished at how George and DeFeo looked alike. How they both presented the same appearance. George feared that his recent personality changes were further indications that he might become more and more like DeFeo – and not just in looks. This disturbing revelation prompted the Lutzes to seek out psychic investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens have investigated many disturbed houses, and they examined the empty house, looking for an explanation.

ED WARREN: What started the trouble with the Lutzes was the fact that there were six people who were murdered in that house. The inhuman, the diabolical, are attracted to where tragedies occur, just like a moth would be attracted to a light. And when the Lutz family moved-in 13 months after these murders, they were still using some of the furniture that was in there.

We know that vibrations can build up in a home like this of a negative nature, and suddenly we have a psychic explosion.

LEONARD NIMOY: There are those who speculate that this psychic explosion was not really a sudden build-up from the DeFeo murders, but rather that Ronald DeFeo was the object of negative forces already on this ground. Research shows that the Shinnecock and Marsapeague tribes lived in what is today Amityville. The actual Lutz home is built on land where these Indians imprisoned their tribal members who were deemed insane, evil or possessed. Perhaps these tortured souls caused negative forces to inhabit the Amityville ground. This seemingly far-fetched explanation helped confirm something the Lutzes desperately wanted to hear.

GEORGE LUTZ: We believe it was there when we moved in. We don't believe it came to bother us after we moved in – let's put it that way. You know, whatever was there had been there for quite a while.

LEONARD NIMOY: All those involved with The Amityville Horror agree on one thing – some evil thing no one can explain seemed to inhabit the house. Why then was it never exorcised?

FATHER RAY: I'm a Roman Catholic priest. And the Roman Catholic Church teaches that people can become possessed, but not objects. The Lutzes were not possessed, so therefore I don't think they should have been exorcised. And I don't believe the house was possessed. There was something there...

LEONARD NIMOY: To this day, no one knows what actually was in the Lutz home. But whatever the explanation, in the case of The Amityville Horror, one family managed to escape.

For those who lived through The Amityville Horror, the emotional shock still lingers. The Lutzes fled to the opposite end of the country, never to return to the house in which they had sunk all their hopes and all their savings.

KATHY LUTZ: I think I want my family and my children much more than I want a structure. And if you view it in that perspective, it's easy to walk away from.

GEORGE LUTZ: We still have that "alone" feeling – I guess that doesn't go away. We're glad its over. For us it's over.

LEONARD NIMOY: The Lutzes believe it is over. For them it may be.

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