PROPOSAL BY RIC OSUNA
Discovering The Truth
on Materials Provided by George and Kathleen Lutz
- 200 pages
January 14, 1976, George and Kathleen Lutz and their three small
children fled their home in the quaint village of Amityville,
Long Island, abandoning everything they owned. The story of
the family's harrowing twenty-eight day ordeal was chronicled
in Jay Anson's 1977 runaway bestseller, "The Amityville
Horror." The book became an instant sensation around the
world, inspiring a hit motion picture, dozens of books, and
(soon to be) nine sequels. Even now, 25 years later, the name
"Amityville" remains synonymous with "horror."
thirteen months prior to the Lutzes' arrival, the affluent 2
1/2 story home was a scene of a grisly mass murder. On November
13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. awoke, grabbed his high-powered hunting
rifle and then shot and killed all six members of his family
while they slept. Although the Lutzes knew about the murders,
they bought the Dutch Colonial believing that they could make
it a happy home. But when swarms of flies began appearing in
the dead of winter ... and when constant images of the DeFeo
murders filled their dreams ... and when disembodied voices
ordered the family priest to "GET OUT!" ...the Lutzes
ultimately fled for their sanity and their lives.
Amityville Horror: Discovering The Truth is the
Lutzes' personal account of the most famous and controversial
horror story of the 20th century. Through exclusive interviews,
confidential documents, and never-before-published photographs,
the Lutzes will break more than two decades of silence to tell
their side of the story -- the way they meant it to be told.
The Amityville Horror: Discovering The Truth
answers the most hard-hitting questions about the case: from
the inconsistencies and dramatic liberties taken in Jay Anson's
book to the "hoax" charges leveled at them by self-proclaimed
"vampirologist" Stephen Kaplan in his 1995 book, "The
Amityville Horror Conspiracy."
or phenomenon, hoax or horror, "The Amityville Horror"
has remained an enduring chapter in American lore. More than
just another 1970's pop culture retrospective, The
Amityville Horror: Discovering The Truth is the
result of an intensive two-year examination and investigation
into the mysteries surrounding one of the most talked-about
haunted house cases of our time. Moreover, The Amityville
Horror: Discovering The Truth will provide incontrovertible
proof that a terrifying force drove the Lutzes from their dream
house at 112 Ocean Avenue.
twenty-five years have passed, the Dutch Colonial home with
its quarter moon, eye-like windows remains an icon of terror.
With the recent proliferation of "Amityville" web
sites on the Internet, a whole new generation has discovered
the story of George and Kathy Lutz. Whether they are believers
or non-believers, young or old, the public remains captivated
by the story.
questions have come about as a result of author Jay Anson's
use of "literary license" to dramatize the Lutzes'
story in his 1977 bestseller "The Amityville Horror."
Critics have reasoned over the years that this dramatization
alone proves that the Lutzes' story was a fabrication. Not surprisingly,
the press has also contributed to the confusion. Years of erroneous
reporting and misquoting have made the Lutzes' story seem less-than-credible.
the Lutzes stand behind their account and believe now, the 25th
anniversary of the night they abandoned their dream home, is
the time to clear up any misconceptions. Both George and Kathy
Lutz have agreed to take part in a unique Question and Answer
Forum in The Amityville Horror: Discovering The
Truth. To that end, fans and curiosity-seekers
alike have submitted dozens of questions for the Lutzes through
amityvillehorror.com for inclusion in the book.
is just a small sampling of the kinds of questions received:
Is it true that the property was once an Indian burial ground?
Is it true that a man named John Ketcham (a suspected witch)
was banished from Salem, only to take up residence on the
famous property in Amityville?
Why in the early 1900's was the original house at 112 Ocean
Avenue moved 100 yards off the property and down the street?
Who built the current house and why?
Does someone live in the house now? If so, have they experienced
any unusual phenomena?
What other tragedies have been reported in or around the property?
Who built the famous Red Room and why?
Why did the DeFeos have so many religious icons scattered
around the property? Were they trying to ward off evil spirits?
Was Ronald DeFeo Jr. a practitioner of black magic?
Was Ronald DeFeo Jr. possessed when he killed his father,
mother, two brothers and two sisters?
During the murders, why didn't any of the DeFeos wake up and
flee for their lives after hearing the first gunshots? Why
didn't any of the neighbors wake up and phone the police?
Why didn't the police ever explain how eight rifle shots could
Why were all six members of the DeFeos found in the same position
-- on their stomachs with their heads ressting in their arms?
Wasn't this the position in which the Indians of the region
would bury their dead?
Why has the Suffolk County Records Office denied countless
"Freedom of Information" requests to view the crime
scene materials ... materials that may shed new light on the
murders ... and the alleged haunting?
Had the Lutzes already made a book deal prior to moving in
to 112 Ocean Avenue?
What exactly did the Lutz family priest, Father Pecoraro,
hear when he was blessing their house?
Was Father Pecoraro a victim of demonic attacks as stated
in "The Amityville Horror"?
When did the Lutzes realize they were in danger?
Was Jodi -- the demonic "pig" described in Jay Anson's
book -- just the neighbors' Siamese cat or a ghostly visitor
that befriended the Lutzes' five-year-old daughter?
What effects, if any, do George and Kathy think the transcendental
meditation they were practicing at the time have on them?
What "sinister force" in the boathouse was calling
Was the presence that allegedly attacked Kathy a product of
an over-worked imagination or a failed incubus attack?
Did a tarry black substance fill up the toilets? Did hundreds
of flies swarm in the sewing room during the dead of winter?
Did George Lutz really report to the police that he was having
What exactly did the Lutzes see in the fireplace?
Did a demonic figure chase the Lutzes as they were fleeing?
Did the malevolent force at 112 Ocean Avenue pursue the Lutzes
to Kathy's mother's house? If so, how long after the family's
departure from Amityville did the attacks continue? Have the
attacks finally subsided?
What clarifications do the Lutzes want to address regarding
Jay Anson's novel?
What things would they do differently today if they had to
do it all over again?
What effect did the publicity have on the Lutzes' marriage?
Their relationships with their children?
Do they feel the blessing of the house triggered the supernatural
Did they conspire with William Weber, defense attorney for
Ronald DeFeo, to create a work of fiction?
Why this book?
Amityville Horror: Discovering The Truth will
provide an in-depth analysis of the history and events at 112
Ocean Avenue. Factual information and interviews from a long
list of eyewitnesses will further substantiate the Lutzes' claims.
In the Questions and Answers Forum, George and Kathy Lutz will
address the most critical questions regarding their experiences.
In addition, dozens of documents and photos will be introduced
to visually aid the reader. Materials such as:
results of the Lutzes' lie detector tests conducted by renowned
polygraph expert Chris Gugas.
transcripts of Father Pecoraro testifying under oath that
a disembodied voice did in fact tell him to "Get Out!"
from Ronald DeFeo Jr.'s November 1999 parole transcripts.
and magazine clippings of the original headlines.
seen crime scene photos from the DeFeo murder case.
documents such as death certificates, archaeology reports,
and property deeds.
documents proving that the Lutzes were able to afford the
of UNPUBLISHED photos from the March 6, 1976 scientific investigation
inside the house which show:
Lutzes had not "planned" to flee the house. Investigators
found refrigerators stocked; clothes left in the laundry;
spoiled food on the kitchen counter; priceless antiques and
family heirlooms left behind.
activity. Investigators were stunned to see in an infrared
photo the ghostly face of a little boy.
The séance. Renowned spiritualists Ed and Lorraine Warren
attempted to cast out the unseen entities.
book contracts with Prentice Hall and Jay Anson proving the
Lutzes did not have a book deal prior to moving into their
the end, The Amityville Horror: Discovering The
Truth will provide further evidence that "The
Amityville Horror" was not a staged event but rather one
of the most intense paranormal events in modern history. Sometimes
truth is stranger than fiction.
Books on the Subject
the years the famous Dutch Colonial house has inspired a string
of books, both fiction and non-fiction. These books had little
in common with Jay Anson's "The Amityville Horror"
and served only to further confuse the general public as to
the authenticity of the Lutzes' story. The Amityville
Horror: Discovering The Truth is the first 100%
non-fictional account ever written about the Lutzes' experiences
and the history of the property itself.
of the other "non-fiction" books on the subject include:
Hans, Murder In Amityville (New York City: Belmont
Tower Books, 1979), 288.
account of author Hans Holzer's two-day investigation of the
house with psychic Ethel Meyers. A large portion of the book
is filled with transcripts from the DeFeo murder trial and Holzer's
interview with Ronald DeFeo Jr. Holzer shows little evidence
to support his theory that the spirit of an Indian Chief, supposedly
angry over the desecration of his grave, possessed Ronald DeFeo
Jr. and forced him to kill his entire family.
Gerard and Aronson, Harvey, High Hopes: The Amityville Murders
(New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1981), 349.
Sullivan, the late chief trial attorney of the Suffolk District
Attorney's office, describes his year-long investigation and
prosecution of Ronald DeFeo Jr. Sullivan, scoffing at the idea
of possession, argues that the family fortune was motive enough
for DeFeo to kill. However, in his conclusion he too admits
to being baffled as to why all six of the DeFeo victims were
found face down and why not one of them was awakened by the
eight deafening gunshots that ended their lives. This concluding
paragraph alone makes it obvious that the DeFeo murders were
not an open and shut case.
Stephen and Kaplan, Roxanne, The Amityville Horror Conspiracy
(Laceyville: Belfrey Books, 1995), 240.
late Stephen Kaplan and his wife's vain attempt to prove that
the Lutzes were the perpetrators of an elaborate hoax. Numerous
references to press clippings that frequently misquote the Lutzes
are all that Kaplan has to support his off-kilter theories.
Stephen Kaplan, a self-proclaimed parapsychologist, never conducted
scientific tests to support his findings, despite his claims
to the contrary. Moreover, the fact that Kaplan had an axe of
his own to grind is more than apparent from reading this book:
he wanted to be the one to tell the story of "The Amityville
Horror" to the world.
Amityville Horror: Discovering The Truth will
be the definitive book on the events surrounding "The Amityville
Horror." Unlike its competition, all of which are currently
out-of-print, The Amityville Horror: Discovering
The Truth will be founded upon concrete proof
-- not unfounded, half-researched theories.
of the Author
earliest memory author Ric Osuna has about "The Amityville
Horror" was its red and black cover art: a picture of the
house and a demonic tail originating from the "H"
in the word "Horror." Scary stuff for a six year old.
It was the book's profound effect on his mother and sister that
caused him to pick up Jay Anson's novel (dubbed "A True
Story") at such an early age. By age nine, he was finally
able to comprehend the words he had been reading. However, even
at that tender age, he too had doubts about certain events reported
in the book.
1995, his passion for the case was reinvigorated after reading
Stephen Kaplan's "The Amityville Horror Conspiracy."
Although Kaplan posed several compelling arguments, Osuna was
still not completely sold on the notion that "The Amityville
Horror" could be written off as a hoax. To that end, Osuna
set out to collect as much information as he could find in an
effort to make his own objective analysis of the case before
drawing any final conclusions. However, he found it hard to
locate many of the resources he was seeking because the case
was two decades old.
in 1998, with the advent of the Internet, Osuna was able to
locate many of the resources he needed to successfully begin
a thorough review of "The Amityville Horror." Already
a professional Web site designer, Osuna decided to put his talents
to use by designing his own Amityville Web site. Originally
centered around the DeFeo Murders, the part of the case that
had fascinated Osuna the most, the web site eventually grew
to encompass the complete story. In January 1999, "The
Amityville Murders" web site opened its doors.
amityvillehorror.com has attracted over 60,000 visitors and
has been labeled the official site of the story. In March of
1999, Daniel Farrands discovered Osuna's site. Farrands, best
known as a Hollywood screenwriter, whose produced credits include
RAVE and HALLOWEEN 6, is currently writing, producing and directing
a special two-part episode about "The Amityville Horror"
for the History Channel's "History's Mysteries" series.
Alerted to Osuna's vast knowledge on the subject, Farrands invited
him to join the team as co-producer of the special.
co-producer, Osuna was now able to interview the people he had
only previously been able to read about. He even ventured to
Amityville in the summer of 1999 for a first-hand investigation.
There he spent dozens of hours reviewing documents and conducting
interviews with both believers and non-believers alike. Finally,
it came time to interview George Lutz who, as it turned out,
lived only minutes away from him. Osuna felt he was one step
closer to the truth.
November of 1999 (coincidentally the 25th Anniversary of the
DeFeo Murders) Osuna finally reached a decision: he concluded
that "The Amityville Horror" was indeed based on fact
and that the Lutzes did go through twenty-eight days of hell.
He now felt the time had come to share his knowledge with so
many others and to help clear the Lutzes' names. Osuna formed
a partnership with the Lutzes and set out to write The
Amityville Horror: Discovering The Truth.
of The Amityville Horror: Discovering The Truth
by George Lutz
personal reasons for this book
I - The Nightmare Begins
1 - Dream Home Turned Nightmare
short introduction of the Lutz family's terrifying ordeal
at 112 Ocean Avenue.
that will be shown in this section are photos of the property
and of the Lutzes viewing it; the letter written by Edith
Evans, the realtor who sold the house to the Lutzes; the
Lutzes' deed to the property.
2 - From Frying Pan into the Fire
escaping from their hellish home, what was the Lutzes' next
course of action?
troubling discoveries did the Lutzes make about their property?
the phenomenon stop?
an exorcism ever conducted at the house or on the Lutzes?
did the Lutzes come to meet William Weber, defense attorney
for convicted mass murderer Ronald DeFeo Jr.?
were Mr. Weber's true motives?
took place during the Weber/Lutz meetings? Who was present?
Weber already planning to do a book on the Lutzes' house?
did the press become involved?
did the Lutzes turn to a publisher to write their story?
impact did erroneous reporting have on the Lutzes' story?
became of the house?
became of the Lutzes' belongings?
impact did the movie (and the sequel books and films) have
on the story's credibility?
included in this section are newspaper clippings from the
period; excerpts of contracts between Mr. Weber and Mr. DeFeo;
excerpts from proposed contracts between Weber and the Lutzes;
photos of the Lutzes.
3 - Debunking the Debunkers
proof that the Lutzes did not have a book contract prior to
moving into the house as so many in the Village of Amityville
did the publisher make so many changes between the hardcover
and paperback versions?
the Lutzes have any creative control over their story or
lawsuits resulted from the book and movie?
did Weber call the Lutz story a hoax?
Weber believed the story was a hoax, why then did he ask
Dr. Hans Holzer, noted parapsychologist, to investigate
the possession of Ronald DeFeo Jr.?
Fr. Pecoraro testify in Federal Court that he heard voices?
did Weber say during a deposition hearing of another lawsuit
to indicate that the Lutzes were telling the truth?
was Stephen Kaplan and how was he affiliated with the case?
was Kaplan's credentials as a parapsychologist and as a
Kaplan ever conduct a scientific investigation inside the
facts, if any, does Kaplan use to support his claim of a
were the results of the Lutzes' lie detector tests?
were the Cromartys?
did they sue the Lutzes and Prentice Hall?
it a strange coincidence that David Roskin, Barbara Cromarty's
son died mysteriously in the house?
startling discovery did Donna Yancosik, cousin of the Cromartys
make about the house?
that will be shown in this section are excerpts from depositions;
photos of the period; excerpts of contracts between Anson
and the Lutzes; newspaper clippings from the period; excerpts
of transcripts from taped conversations between the Lutzes
and their accusers.
II - Before The Lutzes
4 - Early Inhabitants of Amityville
new information discovered supports the Lutzes findings
about their property?
is the Amityville Historical Society's view on this information?
information did news intern Laura DiDio discover about the
property twenty-five years ago?
the property be an Indian Burial ground?
Indians resided in the area?
were the burial practices of these Indians?
it true that a 1920 archeological dig in Amityville unearthed
an Indian burial mound only 1000 feet from the property?
any other Ocean Avenue residents find bones or strange things
buried in their backyard?
the restless spirit of a dead Indian Chief responsible for
the haunting as parapsychologist Hans Holzer contends?
there an Indian Curse on the property?
many other Indian burial grounds around Amityville have
was John Ketcham?
there evidence supporting Ketcham was a warlock?
John Ketcham take up residence in what is now present day
connection does he have to the property?
was another house located on the exact spot moved to another
location -- just two blocks away?
built the current house?
tragic events befell earlier owners?
built the famous "Red Room" and why?
that will be shown in this section are old maps; old sketches;
deeds from the property's past; photos showing an ancient
Indian Cemetery in Amityville being used as a dumping ground;
photos of the famous Red Room; historical documents from
Amityville's historic archives; letters from the Ketcham
Genealogy Organization; a medical analysis of a bone discovered
on Ocean Avenue; newspaper clippings; proof that the Lutzes
did visit the Amityville Historical Society seeking info
about their property; a map showing the latitude line of
the property to be 40.666.
5 - The DeFeos Move In
were the DeFeos and what were their hopes for the property
at 112 Ocean Avenue?
from Brooklyn, how were the DeFeos received in Amityville?
troubles did the DeFeos have with the house?
troubles did the DeFeos have as a family?
Ronald DeFeo Jr. make an earlier attempt on his father's
Mr. Ronald DeFeo Sr. just expressing his faith by surrounding
the house with religious statues or was he trying to ward
off something sinister?
were there several masses held in the house?
Ronald Jr. a rebellious youth or was he possessed?
Ronald Jr.'s personality change after moving to 112 Ocean
crimes or unruly behavior did Ronald Jr. participate in?
luxuries did Ronald Sr. bestow upon his family -- especially
didn't Ronald Sr. heed his son's warning that he'd kill
the entire family if he was forced to return to the house?
that will be shown in this section are family photos; color
photos of the interior of the house; the DeFeos' deed to the
6 - Murdered By One of Their Own
Ronald DeFeo Jr. alone in murdering his entire family in
did all six victims sleep through eight high-powered shots
from a .35 Marlin hunting rifle?
did none of the neighbors hear the shots?
a silencer used?
the victims drugged?
were the victims found all in the exact same position in
the victims remain in the same position even after being
does Ronald DeFeo Jr. have no recollection of his actions?
he believe that supernatural forces had influence over him
at the time of his murder?
has Ronald Jr.'s story changed over the last twenty-five
Ronald Jr. ready for parole in 2001?
that will be shown in this section are crime scene photos
(non-explicit); an official report from Marlin (or the FBI)
explaining the decibel range of the murder weapon; diagrams
of the crime scene; newspaper clippings and photos of the
events as they unfolded; excerpts of transcripts from Ronald
DeFeo Jr.'s parole hearing.
III - The Psychic Investigation
7 - The Warrens are Called In
are Ed and Lorraine Warren?
are their credentials?
did they become involved with the case and the Lutzes?
was their first impression of George Lutz?
were the details of their investigation?
psychic impressions did Lorraine, a clairvoyant, pick-up
about the force inside the house?
contact did they have with the Catholic Church -- particularly
Fr. Bill Charboneau, a Catholic parapsychologist?
strange coincidence took place with regard to Ed's mother's
death and the DeFeo murders?
that will be shown in this section: photos from the Warrens'
8 - Lights, Camera, Seance
happened during the televised seance at the house on March
is the famous "ghostly boy" photo?
parapsychology organizations were present at the seance?
were their findings?
news organizations were present?
the environment right for conducting scientific tests?
the force in the house make itself known to psychics?
that will be shown in this section are: photos from the
1976 seance that include the image of a ghostly little boy
peering out from a second floor bedroom; a photo of martyred
Catholic Padre Pio appearing to aid the demonologists during
their work in the house; a photo of what some say is the
image of "Jodi the Pig."
IV - 28 Days of Hell - 25 Years of Controversy
9 - George and Kathy Lutz Speak Out (In Q&A Format)
Lutzes address the public's specific questions regarding their
story and how their ordeal has changed them.
10 - The Amityville Horror Today
"The Amityville Horror" has found a new following
on the Internet.
Web sites that deal with the story.
in movies and books.
unauthorized Amityville sequels.
is the opinion of the Village of Amityville on the famous
horror that has made their community synonymous with the
the Village of Amityville tried to cover-up the facts surrounding
excerpt from a USA Today article comparing Amityville
to Burkettsville -- the town featured in the 1999 hit movie
"The Blair Witch Project."
that will be shown in this section: title pages from several
Web sites; book covers; movie stills; a letter from the
Village of Amityville denying a request for information;
photos of the famous village as it appears today.
final conclusion discussing the public’s continued interest
with the Amityville legacy.
Rough Draft of The Amityville
Horror: Discovering The Truth
Discovering The Truth
on Materials Provided by George and Kathleen Lutz
by George Lutz
2000 George and Kathleen Lutz. All rights reserved.
Amityville Horror" is one of the most controversial paranormal
events of all time. In fact, its notoriety has reached all four
corners of the globe. Most recently, "The Amityville Horror"
has found a resurgence on the Internet with numerous web sites
devoted to it. On the Net, old and new fans alike share a common
fascination with the famous Dutch Colonial home and it's captivating
twenty-five years have passed, the story is still shrouded in
controversy and misinformation. Let me assure you that this
book is 100% non-fiction and offers a pathway for discovering
the truth about what really happened to the Lutz family at 112
Ocean Avenue. It is my opinion that the Lutzes were victims
of not only the diabolical force present in their home, but
several jealous, unscrupulous individuals. Hopefully, you feel
the same way as I do after reading this book.
the Lutz story is so intricate, this book is broken down into
four parts. Part One addresses the controversy surrounding "The
Amityville Horror." Part Two focuses on the history of
the property before the Lutzes moved in. Part Three sets the
record straight about what really happened to the Lutzes and
the investigators who went in after they fled. Finally, Part
Four examines how the story has become a cultural icon in movies,
books and on the Internet.
has taken two years to research the thousands of court documents,
newspaper reports, books, and interviews used in developing
this book. In fact, many of the visuals in this book have previously
gone unpublished. Moreover, these visuals will serve as supporting
documentation to the theories presented here.
1979, I have continuously followed the story, reading everything
I could. A few years ago, I was under the misconception that
the case had been proven a hoax. When I began having doubts
in the credibility of these hoax theories, I started searching
for my own answers to prove or disprove "The Amityville
Horror". Today, I am convinced that the horror the Lutz
family experienced was real.
the only thing required to read this book is an open mind. This
is the first time in a number of years that George and Kathy
Lutz have spoken out. To this day, speaking about their ordeal
is extremely difficult for them. Their biggest fear is not that
they will be called liars, but that recalling their experiences
will somehow trigger a recurrence. For my part, I have taken
great pains in ensuring the experiences they experienced in
Amityville, New York are related honestly and without dramatic
license. In closing, if you take a trip to Amityville to see
the house then please be considerate and don't bother the current
ONE: The Nightmare Begins
- DREAM HOME TURNED NIGHTMARE
NEW LIFE TOGETHER
in July of 1975, George and Kathleen Lutz spent most of the
summer and fall looking for a home on Long Island's South Shore
in New York. They wanted a bigger home so they could sell their
two separate residences and combine households. George, 28,
was an ex-Marine and a third generation owner of his family's
land surveying business in Syosset, New York. Prior to marrying
George, Kathy, 30, was working full time as a waitress. Both
George and Kathy had been married previously.
George had just become a father to Kathy's three small children:
Danny, 9, Chris, 7, and Missy, 5. It was something he gladly
accepted because of his love for Kathy and his affection for
the well-mannered kids. Kathy recalls, "the children were
just as excited about getting a new daddy." Another addition
to the family was Harry, George's sturdy half-malamute, half-Labrador
retriever that was nothing short of hyper.
the midst of their search for a home, the Lutzes contacted realtor
Edith Evans of Conklin Realty in Massapequa Park, Long Island.
Knowing of the Lutzes' stringent requirements, Evans decided
to show them a house located in Amityville -- a close knit community
that proudly boasted of its rich history. However, the asking
price of $90,000 was considerably more than the Lutzes were
looking to spend.
on a cool November afternoon, George and Kathy turned off Merrick
Road, a busy thoroughfare on the South Shore, onto Ocean Avenue.
With its large homes and manicured yards, the street signified
prominence. In fact, at one time famed Western star Annie Oakley
had a home on Ocean Avenue. Additionally, the houses on the
east side of the street had the benefit of sitting on the banks
of the Amityville Creek.
few moments later, the Lutzes' Ford van pulled up to 112 Ocean
Avenue. "Immediately we were impressed with the immense
size of the three story Dutch Colonial Home," recalls George.
The charming home had dark shingles with white trim and was
situated with the front entrance facing the right or driveway
side. Two ominous, quarter-moon shaped windows overlooked the
street, giving the impression that the house had eyes. The oversized
lot was 50' by 237' with a combination boathouse/garage. This
was a plus for George since he owned both a 25' cabin cruiser
and 15' speed boat. Bordering the driveway, a lamppost sign
read, "High Hopes". Inspired by their first look,
the Lutz family climbed out of their van and followed the realtor
the Lutzes walked into the marbled foyer, they were mesmerized
by an open staircase ascending three floors; it was a sign of
the house's magnificence. George remembers, "there were
no visible signs of disrepair and the quality of the workmanship
was so good the price did not make since." Eagerly, the
family followed Mrs. Evans as she gave them the grand tour.
(roughly) 4000 sq. foot house had it all. A living room with
an adjoining sun porch. A large kitchen with breakfast nook.
A finished basement. Two and a half bathrooms. Six bedrooms
between two floors. A formal dining room with patio entrance.
Off the patio was a large backyard with heated pool and the
was exuberant, almost hypnotized by the house's charm. After
seeing Kathy's reaction to the house, George vowed to himself,
"I would do all I could to fulfill my wife's dream of owning
such a fine place." For the Lutz family, 112 Ocean Avenue
provided more than enough space for their growth. It had been
a quality that Kathy could not find in the other 50 or so homes
they had previously looked at. "All the things that we
had talked about were found in one place," Kathy remembers.
was while touring the boathouse that George and Kathy finally
learned the reason behind the bargain price. "Only after
we fell in love with the house did the realtor reveal that it
had been the scene of a grisly mass murder," says Kathy.
On a cold November night in 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and
killed his parents, two brothers and two sisters while they
slept. At the time the Lutzes first saw the house, the trial
for Ronald Defeo Jr. had yet to conclude. When it did, he was
finally sentenced to six consecutive life terms for the murder
of his famly.
and Kathy vaguely remembered the gruesome story, but never had
much interest in it. Half expecting them to voice their dissatisfaction
with the property, Evans was surprised at the Lutzes reaction.
"We were not superstitious and believed the property was
the best we had seen," remembers Kathy. Though tragic,
the Lutzes felt the murders would have no bearing on their decision
to buy 112 Ocean Avenue. However, they still planned on speaking
to the children about the tragedy before making any lasting
night Danny, Chris, and Missy were told the property's tragic
past. "We would have never considered buying the Amityville
house if just one of the children had voiced opposition to living
there," explains George. Despite the murders, the children
expressed their excitement about living at 112 Ocean Avenue.
Once the biggest hurdle was out of the way, George and Kathy
started figuring if the house was in their budget.
sale of our two homes provided more than enough for a down payment
on the house," says George. In addition, George would save
$400 each month in mooring charges by using the boathouse at
112 Ocean Avenue instead of the marina. To save on office rent,
George was considering moving his land surveying office into
the house's finished basement. After a few more visits to Amityville,
George shrewdly offered $80,000 for the home. Because the property
had been on the market for close to a year, the estate of the
DeFeo family quickly accepted the offer.
the closing of escrow was delayed by legal issues. Despite the
fact that Ronald DeFeo Jr. had murdered his entire family in
the house, as sole survivor DeFeo was still entitled to inherit
his parents estate. "It was decided that since the executors
were looking to spend weeks or months in Probate Court deciding
the issue, $40,000 would be placed in escrow until a legal deed
could be obtained," says George.
Thursday, December 18, 1975, the Lutzes drove to the title company
to close the sale in a U-Haul truck fully-loaded with their
possessions. They paid close to $25,000 for the down payment,
closing costs and some items that they decided to buy from the
DeFeo estate. These items included: two bedroom sets, a dining
room set, and a TV chair. Seven air-conditioners, two washers
and dryers and a new refrigerator and freezer were thrown in
for free. "What we did not expect to pay for was a full
tank of oil that the DeFeos had ordered for their furnace the
previous year," says George.
finishing at the title company, the Lutzes rushed to their new
home arriving at around 1 PM. A few of George's friends had
already shown up to help with the unloading. However, George
soon realized that the realtor still had the key at her office.
Less than an hour passed before the realtor arrived with it
and the doors to 112 Ocean Avenue were open.
a conversation earlier that week, George's friend insisted that
he have a priest bless their new home. Since George was a non-practicing
Methodist, he knew only of a Catholic Ecclesiastical Judge who
worked for the Rockville Diocese on Long Island. George explains,
"It was during my first annulment proceedings for my first
marriage that I met Father Ralph Pecoraro." Father Pecoraro,
better known to the family as "Father Ray," was more
than just a counselor to George and later to Kathy. He was also
Ray was in his early forties, had a trimmed beard and was slimly
built. He arrived to bless the Lutzes' new home as promised
on moving day. "When he first saw the house, he was glad
that I could provide such a big place for Kathy and the kids,"
says George. In a soft, joyous voice, Father Ray greeted George
who was busy unloading the U-Haul truck. George introduced his
new family before letting the priest go about his duties.
inside, Father Ray began his blessing of the house. The ritual
proceeded without incident until he reached one of the second
floor bedrooms. While blessing the room, a masculine voice ordered
him to, "GET OUT"! Stunned, Father Ray turned to see
he was still alone in the room. He continued with the blessing
and flicked the holy water until suddenly an unseen hand slapped
him across the face. Unnerved by what had taken place, Father
Ray left the room.
finishing, the priest rejoined George and Kathy downstairs.
Right away they noticed that the priest's face had grown pale
with exhaustion. Concerned, George and Kathy invited the priest
to stay for dinner. Citing a previous engagement, Father Ray
refused the Lutzes' offer.
he was leaving, Father Ray inquired about the second floor room
which was going to be Kathy's sewing room," remembers George.
Kathy adds, "Father Ray calmly informed us not to spend
too much time in there and never to use it as a bedroom. Since
it was not in the plans to be used as a bedroom it did not phase
me." As they returned to work, the Lutzes had no way of
knowing that a chain of events had just been set in motion.
away the Lutz family began experiencing strange phenomenon at
112 Ocean Avenue. Episodes such as mysterious odors lingering,
toilets turning black, green ooze coming from within walls,
windows opening and closing by themselves, and swarms of flies
appearing in only in the sewing room all seemed to point to
one conclusion. Something was terribly wrong with their new
house. Events slowly escalated over the remainder of December
situation deteriorated as one by one the Lutzes entered their
own personal hell. For the first few weeks, a severe coldness
kept George in front of the fireplace throughout most of the
day. Unexplainably, he awakened each night at the same time.
"For reasons unknown to me, I kept snapping awake precisely
at 3:15 AM with an uncontrollable urge to check the boathouse,"
says George. Unbeknownst to him, this was the approximate time
that the DeFeo family had been murdered. In addition, everyone
but George began sleeping on their stomachs. This was the exact
same position that the DeFeos were found in -- a position the
police referred to as "execution style."
day while unpacking, Kathy was shocked to discover her silver
crucifix hanging upside down in her closet. She tried to ignore
the event, but soon found it compounded her growing concern
with her new home.
the first week in the house, invisible touches began tormenting
Kathy, says George. "At first these strange sensations
seemed like the reassuring touch of a mother, but eventually
grew so harsh they caused me to pass out," recalls Kathy.
Like George, sleep provided little escape from her problems
with the house. Kathy's dreams had begun to be filled with vivid
images about Mrs. DeFeo's murder.
Danny, Chris and Missy could not escape the effects of the house.
They turned into unruly, misbehaved brats causing George and
Kathy to resort to corporal punishment. George explains, "It
was something we had never done prior to moving to the house
in Amityville." Tensions increased as George lost control
after a window inexplicably closed on Danny's hand, injuring
the boy. Enraged, he went from room to room opening all the
windows, ordering peace in his house.
living at the house, Missy had befriended what she thought to
be an angel. "I became increasingly worried about Missy's
new friend, Jody, when Missy said it had told her she would
always live at the house," says Kathy. Regardless, George
and Kathy continually reasoned that Jody was the product of
a child's imagination. Experiencing Jody first hand would eventually
change George and Kathy's views.
sitting in the living room by the fireplace, George and Kathy
witnessed two red eyes staring through the darkness from the
outside. "I raced through the snow only to find a trail
of hoof prints leading away from the house," explains George.
Later in the month, George and Kathy saw the two red eyes again
outside of Missy's window. With her motherly instincts in overdrive,
Kathy hurled one of Missy's play chairs at the window. George
insists that "Whatever was outside the window was definitely
not a cat because it went squealing into the night."
had also began to suffer physically from whatever resided in
the house. One night, while sleeping she turned into a drooling,
ninety-year-old hag in front of George. Even though the transformation
was brief, the aftereffects lasted well into the next day. Throughout
the month, Kathy continued to be victimized and eventually began
to levitate. "It was only after I witnessed Kathy levitate
off the bed that I finally realized no rational explanation
existed for what had been happening to us," recalls George.
situation grew increasingly precarious. On a later night, George
lie awake in bed listening to the sound of the front door open
and close repeatedly. He went downstairs to find Harry sleeping
in front of the heavy wooden door. Normally alert at the slightest
sound, the dog had become lethargic since moving to 112 Ocean
Avenue. George's inspection found the hinges of the front door
damaged while outside the metal storm door was bent and on the
verge of falling off.
the beginning of the second week in January 1976, the force
in the house had grown bolder. One night while checking on the
boathouse, George heard the sound of a band playing in his living
room. The disembodied band immediately ceased playing once George
approached. "What alarmed me the most was when I saw that
all of the furniture had been pushed to one side of the living
room," says George.
the Lutzes called Father Ray, unaware that he was besieged with
his own terrors from blessing their house. "Each time the
call connected, a loud, crackling static erupted over the line
forcing us to hang-up," explains Kathy. Deciding that something
had to be done, the Lutzes took it upon themselves to re-bless
the house. George and Kathy walked from room to room ordering
what was there to leave in God's name. They halted when a chorus
of voices shouted back, "Will you stop"! "I searched
high and low in that house for speakers believing someone was
playing a trick on us," insists George. "I just was
not ready to believe in ghosts or spirits."
at 112 Ocean Avenue continued to worsen. Knowing the phone at
his house could not be trusted, George went to his office to
phone Father Ray. The priest listened intently to George and
Kathy's description of the recent events. Calmly, their friend
advised them to leave the house until things could be sorted
out. Agreeing that some time away was needed, the Lutzes decided
to go to Kathy's mother's house. The family began preparations
for a short trip after the children returned home from school
and I ignored our own needs in a rush to leave before nightfall,"
says George. However, they were able to gather three changes
of clothes for the kids and some dog food for Harry. The house
rebelled at the sight of the family's departure. George remembers
that "The temperature in 112 Ocean Avenue kept fluctuating
between hot and cold. Noises similar to the creaks and groans
of a ship started coming from the house. All of us were scared
and just wanted to leave."
was only after they reached the front door did the Lutzes look
back in horror at the scene unfolding. A hooded figure, which
could only be described as inhuman, stood on the second floor
landing pointing at George. "At that point we were fearing
for our very lives," says Kathy.
- FROM FRYING PAN INTO THE FIRE
OUT WHILE THEY COULD
for their family's safety, George and Kathy Lutz and their three
children decided that they could not endure another night in
their new home. Late afternoon on Wednesday, January 14, 1976,
the Lutz family fled from 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, Long
Island. They raced to their van only to discover that it would
not start. "Thankfully, I had installed an ignition system
that could be both electronic and standard," says George.
"After switching to standard, the van started."
an instant, the van sped down Ocean Avenue away from the hellish
home. The family was in shock. They couldn't comprehend abandoning
all of their possessions and dreams to whatever evil force resided
in the house. However, George and Kathy had no intention of
giving up. "We wanted to get the house fixed and get on
with our lives," explains George.
Lutzes headed for Kathy's mother's house in Babylon, a town
only minutes away. While driving on the Long Island Expressway,
the Lutzes learned that they had not escaped the evil. Suddenly,
an incredible pounding erupted on all sides of the van. "While
George struggled to keep the van on the road, I led the children
in prayer," remembers Kathy. "The pounding eventually
lessened the farther we got from the house," adds George.
mother, Joan Conners, was well aware of the horrors that her
daughter and family had suffered during their stay in Amityville.
She even witnessed the aftereffects of Kathy's transformation
into a ninety- year-old woman. It was after that incident that
Joan pleaded with George and Kathy to move out of the house.
When the family arrived that night on her doorstep, they looked
pale from exhaustion not to mention much thinner. Remarkably,
George had lost over twenty pounds while living at 112 Ocean
Avenue. "Never before had I succumbed to such a sickness
as the one I experienced in Amityville," says George.
first night away from the house both George and Kathy tried
to rationalize the recent events. "Our senses were so heightened
from fright that we felt almost psychic and needed wine to relax,"
recalls George. After exhaustion finally overtook them, George
and Kathy went to bed. However, they weren't afforded the good
night's sleep that they had anticipated.
dozing off, George and Kathy began to levitate. The experience
was initially quite pleasurable. "I know we were not dreaming
because as Kathy and I were floating up to the ceiling we were
talking about it", insists George. However, their feelings
soon turned disconcerting when they realized what was in the
house in Amityville had followed them. Nevertheless, they were
confident they would find help for their problem.
settling in at his mother-in-law's, George called Father Ray
to inform him of the latest events. It was the first time the
two men could talk without being afraid that their conversation
would be cut short by the mysterious static. After hearing about
the force's manifestation during their departure, Father Ray
explained to George that he and his family could not return
until the proper people looked into the matter.
that George and Kathy were not superstitious, Father Ray appealed
to their rational side in order to get them safely out of 112
Ocean Avenue. "I don't think anyone else but Father Ray
could have convinced us to leave. If he had not be gentle in
his assertion that we should leave then we would have stayed
because it was our house, our stuff," says George. Today,
the Lutzes credit Father Ray with saving their lives. George
and Kathy believe if they would have stayed at 112 Ocean Avenue
then they would have died in a futile attempt to fight the evil
force inside their home.
the weeks following their departure from Amityville, Father
Ray educated George and Kathy about the occult. Books and other
paraphernalia were scattered throughout Kathy's mother's house
as the Lutzes quickly learned what they were up against. They
were turned from staunch skeptics into firm believers of the
and Kathy remember Father Ray telling about the time he had
approached his superiors about their problem. "Father Ray
had told us about a time when he was sitting in his Chancellor's
office discussing the possibility of helping us," says
George. "Even though the radiator was still working, a
sudden chill came over the room followed by a deafening silence
and a pungent odor." With that, the Lutzes contend the
Catholic Church limited their involvement and referred them
to the Psychical Research Foundation (PRF) located on the campus
of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
being contacted by George Lutz, the PRF assigned the preliminary
investigation to George Kekoris, their representative assigned
to Amityville. On January 24, 1976, George Kekoris conducted
a lengthy interview with both George and Kathy Lutz. It was
from this interview that the PRF stepped-up its involvement
in the case. George and Kathy were confident that they had found
the people that could fix their home.
would continue to reside at Kathy's mother's house until they
were given every assurance that the house in Amityville was
once again livable. (Note to Agent/Publisher: A later chapter
will provide an in-depth look at the complex scientific investigation
into 112 Ocean Avenue.)
that there were more to the murders than originally thought,
George and Kathy began to seek out information about the previous
owners. "We learned that during his trial Ronald DeFeo
Jr. reported hearing the voice of God in the house," says
Kathy. The next step the Lutzes decided to take was to contact
DeFeo's attorney, William Weber.
mutual acquaintances, George and Kathy met William Weber in
late January 1976 at Kathy's mother's house. The Lutzes hoped
Weber could offer additional information about the DeFeos that
might coincide with their own experiences. George and Kathy
also suspected the force in the house had influenced Ronald
DeFeo Jr.'s actions the night of the murders. Therefore, contacting
Weber also meant providing the attorney with information that
might help get his client counseling.
an hour or so of exchanging pleasantries, George and Kathy felt
comfortable enough to begin relating their experiences to Mr.
Weber. They recounted some of the strange and terrifying experiences
that had led to their abandonment of the home on Ocean Avenue.
"The initial meeting concluded well after midnight with
Weber agreeing to return within week or two," says George.
William Weber to the second meetings was Paul Hoffman. "Hoffman
was introduced to us as a criminologist working on the DeFeo
case. It was not until later that we learned Hoffman was actually
a journalist," insists George. Also attending the second
meeting was Bernard Burton, a law partner at the firm Weber
had worked at. Again the meeting stretched into the early morning
hours as the Lutzes recounted their experiences to the group.
Because he wanted an accurate account of all that was said,
George tape recorded the meeting.
the month of January, George and Kathy Lutz had sat down and
tape recorded all of their experiences. The believed that talking
about the happenings in the house would serve as therapy. "It
was at that time that we learned the extent of each other's
individual experiences," explains George. When it was done,
approximately thirty 45-minute audio cassettes served as an
oral record of their twenty-eight day ordeal.
the early days of February 1976, tragedy struck the Lutz family.
William H. Parry, George's grandfather and founder of George's
land surveying business in Syosset, passed away. To make matters
worse, when they returned home from the funeral, the Lutzes
were informed by a reporter that their story was no longer a
secret. "We were not sure how, but someone had leaked the
story to the press," says Lee. "We now suspect that
someone as being Weber," adds Kathy.
Saturday, February 14, 1976, a subtitle appeared in the table
of contents of Long Island's Newsday. It read: "Bad
Vibes -- The house is a luxurious, three-story colonial near
the water in Amityville, and the Lutz family paid $40,000 for
it. But they moved out in ten days after feeling strange vibrations
and detecting other weird phenomenon. It's the DeFeo house,
where six persons were shot to death in 1974. Page 6."
six's headline read: "DeFeo Home Abandoned; Buyer Calls
It Haunted." The article went on to describe how the Psychical
Research Foundation was contacted to investigate the house.
It continued with an anonymous friend of the Lutzes reporting
they had moved out because of problems with the heating system.
Even Amityville Police Officer Sgt. Pat Cammarato was dragged
into the story. According to this article, Cammarato had been
called to the property by the Lutzes and had experienced "strange
vibrations." Also included in the article was a photo of
the Lutzes' storm door hanging off its hinges.
and Kathy Lutz were in shock to say the least. Not only had
their story been made public, but the story that appeared in
the paper was so full of inaccuracies they found it to be almost
comical. They feared the article would only serve to create
hysteria, which was the last thing they wanted.
fears soon became reality. On Monday, February 16, 1976, another
Newsday article about the Lutzes was printed, this
one entitled: "The Curious Haunt The DeFeo House."
It described how the Valentine's Day article had kept the Amityville
Police Department busy ensuring that none of the curiosity seekers
became trespassers. The article also quoted Stephen Kaplan,
self-proclaimed head of the Parapsychology Institute of America.
Kaplan stated that he hoped to investigate the house and warned
that the amateur "should not mix into these things because
they do not know how to handle a hostile spirit."
the added pressure of the press, George Lutz was in a rush to
fix his home and get on with his life. "At this point,
I was willing to listen to anyone who claimed to know about
the paranormal because I wanted my house fixed," reasons
George. He became interested in Stephen Kaplan's
Parapsychology Institute of America after reading about the
organization in the Newsday article. Feeling he had nothing
to lose, George contacted Mr. Kaplan.
Lutz remembers Kaplan as being "extremely excited"
about being contacted about the case. "I remember Kaplan
spouting off his credentials and references like it was a sales
pitch," states George. Regardless of his misgivings about
Kaplan's credentials, George took Kaplan up on his offer to
investigate. However, George's one stipulation was that Kaplan
could not speak any further to the press about his involvement
in the case. "Kaplan had agreed not to speak to the press.
If he had not then that would have been it for Kaplan right
then and there," adds George.
on February 16, 1976, Kathy received a call from William Weber.
Weber had informed her that she and George were to attend a
press conference later that day in his office in Patchogue,
New York. Reluctantly she agreed after Weber informed her that
reporters would show up at the children's schools if they did
not participate in the press conference. "Not wanting to
involve the children in any publicity, we reluctantly went to
William Weber's office to participate in our first interview,"
interview began with Weber introducing the Lutzes and clarifying
that he presently only represented Ronald DeFeo Jr. Weber went
on to explain that the facts supplied by the Lutzes favored
his client's appeal and contended that he had not had adequate
time to prepare a case for his client's defense.
following is an excerpt from the transcriptions of George Lutzes'
tape recording of the interview of the February 16, 1976 press
Why did you decide on DeFeo's house?
We really liked the house.
The fact that DeFeo...[had murdered his family]
...that had no bearing on it at all. At this point we couldn't
care less. That wasn't something that would bother us.
Was that in the back of your mind?
And you actually only stayed in the house 10 days?
No, we moved out January 14. We were there 28 days.
Probably the easiest thing to do would be to tell you what
didn't happen. No objects thrown around, no wailing noises,
no hearing ghosts,...nothing that would associate with or
think out of a ghost story, that type of thing.
Why did you move out?
Then what did happen?
Let me put it this way. We moved out of the house mainly because
of the concern for our own personal safety. We felt threatened.
Was it a threat from the outside or a threat that went to
all of the others???
I don't know if I can answer that in the way that you asked.
Let's talk physical beings. You say the first personal safety
of the family. Did you feel that if you stayed there, somebody
would do something? Some person would do something....
Some persons in the family would do something to someone else?
Or some person within the family would do something to someone
What did you feel threatened by?
Force. A very strong force.
What shape of form did it take? Was it a moving form?
I don't think we can go into that. We just told what form
it did not take.
the press conference, the Lutzes also denied ever having called
Sgt. Pat Cammarato to investigate their home. However, they
did confirm that the "proper people and organizations"
-- referring to the Psychical Research Foundation -- were investigating
the matter. "We had set the record straight and played
down our own experiences in the hopes that the press would lose
interest in the story," says George. Contrary to what George
and Kathy Lutz wanted, the press conference did not negate interest
in their story.
Wednesday, February 18, 1976, Sgt. Cammarato addressed allegations
of his involvement in a Long Island Press article entitled "Ghosts
Chased: Cop pours cold water on haunted house tale." Sgt.
Cammarato stated, "There is no documentation, and no official
investigation [by the police] into this area." He added
that he personally knew of no other tragedy other than the DeFeo
murders that took place at 112 Ocean Avenue.
and Kathy Lutz were both glad to see the erroneous report finally
cleared up. However, they were not pleased when Stephen Kaplan
began speaking to the press about his upcoming investigation.
Especially when George had been adamant that he was to avoid
Thursday, February 19, 1976, The Long Island Press
carried a story entitled: "Ghost Hunt: Expert to probe
forces in DeFeo house." In this article, Kaplan "sympathized
with the Lutzes not wanting to stay in the house another a night."
Kaplan went onto to state that he and his staff planned on investigating
the house in the near future. Angered by the article, George
Lutz called Kaplan to cancel his upcoming investigation.
told me that Channel 7 was going to make him a star if he let
them film his investigation," recalls George. "Kaplan
said he found it ridiculous to turn down their offer for the
privacy of researching." Feeling that he could no longer
trust him, George severed all ties with Kaplan and his organization.
very next day, The Long Island Press carried a story
entitled "Ghost Hunter Smells A Hoax." In the article,
Kaplan was quoted as saying, "If he (Lutz) does not invite
me to the house, then I would have to believe the possibility
that a hoax was being presented." Irresponsibly, Kaplan
implied that the Lutzes knew Ronald DeFeo Jr. and their story
was an attempt to get him off the hook. Kaplan rationalized
his exclusion by saying, "I am bowing out because I don't
like the set-up." However, the article fails to mention
that Kaplan and his organization had been excluded by George
Lutz from investigating 112 Ocean Avenue. For Kaplan, this was
the start of what the Lutzes claim was twenty-year vendetta
against them that lasted until Kaplan's death in 1995.
THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT
Lutzes' story didn't remain a local story for long. During the
week of February 16, 1976, New York's Channel 5 News reporter
Steve Bauman broadcast a special report in front of the house
in Amityville. To make matters worse, the report was just erroneous
as the first newspaper accounts.
addition to the typical inaccuracies of before, the Channel
5 report added a few new ones. Bauman's report suggested that
when Kathy Lutz levitated she "drifted towards a mysterious
closet that had not been on any blueprint." The report
was referring to the Red Room, which was nothing but a pipe
access in a storage closet in the basement. Nevertheless, the
Lutzes had experienced odd feelings about the small room that
had frequently smelled of raw sewage. Even Harry, the Lutzes'
dog, refused to go near it. "It was odd that the room did
not appear on the set of blueprints we obtained. According to
the plans, there appeared to be a well or cesspool underneath
the foundation near the room," says George.
biggest inaccuracy of the Channel 5 report was Bauman's statement
that "the Catholic Church planned on sending two emissaries
from the Vatican's Council of Miracles." Regardless, the
Catholic Church had no official role in the investigation and
had already referred the Lutzes to the PRF at Duke University.
George and Kathy had never even heard of the Council of Miracles
until the TV report and were never certain whether or not it
Lutzes were quickly losing hope that their story would ever
fade out of the media spotlight. Not only did their story received
increased coverage, but it had taken on a life of its own. "Luckily,
the Channel 5 news report did bring Laura DiDio into our lives,"
states Kathy. At the time, DiDio was a news assistant working
for Channel 5. Her objectivity and sympathy towards the Lutzes
proved invaluable at gaining the couple's confidence. For George
and Kathy, DiDio was willing to take her time and get the story
straight rather than reporting more inaccuracies. (Note to Agent/Publisher:
A later chapter will focus on DiDio's extensive involvement
with the case.)
of the experiences George and Kathy Lutz had related, William
Weber wanted a new trial for Ronald DeFeo Jr. based on the grounds
of "possession". The Lutzes did not have a problem
with Weber trying to do what was best for his client. "What
we didn't feel comfortable with was the business partnership
Weber had proposed to us in late February/early March 1976,"
recalls George. Weber had wanted George and Kathy to join him
in his book project.
partnership would also include Paul Hoffman, Frederick Mars
and Bernard Burton. Both Mars and Burton were senior partners
at the law firm at which Weber practiced. In fact, Hoffman,
Weber, Mars and Burton had signed an earlier contract dated
February 14, 1976, forming a partnership for the proposed book.
Because of the media attention the Lutzes' story was getting,
the group annulled the first contract so as to include the Lutzes
in their partnership.
focus of the proposed book was the DeFeo murders. At the end,
the reader would be able to choose the most probable of the
three scenarios. Whether Ronald DeFeo Jr. was legally insane,
whether he was a cold-blooded killer or whether he was possessed
by evil forces. The Lutzes' story would be saved for the epilogue.
"What bothered us most about this book proposal was that
Weber had signed an agreement dated February 27, 1976, with
Ronald DeFeo Jr.," says George. The convicted mass murderer
was to receive a share of the gross receipts of any book involving
learning of DeFeo's financial involvement in the proposed book
project, George and Kathy Lutz no longer wanted to associate
with Weber or his partners or to be involved in any of their
ventures. They also felt they had been lied to about Paul Hoffman's
involvement, who had been introduced to them as a criminologist
working on DeFeo's appeal, not as a journalist assigned to write
the book about DeFeo's life and crimes. The Lutzes contend that
the reasons they went to William Weber and later confided in
Paul Hoffman were that they wanted to get help for DeFeo and
get information to help them fix their house.
George and Kathy could not condone involving Ronald DeFeo Jr.
in any project in which he would profit from the story of killing
his family. Furthermore, George and Kathy Lutz questioned why
Mars and Burton were involved. They also felt that their story
couldn't be told properly as an epilogue to a book that focused
on the crimes of a convicted mass murderer.
wrestling with the issue, George and Kathy finally decided that
a book could set the record straight after the dozens of news
stories that had misquoted them and given erroneous accounts
of their experiences. "We also believed that any book we
did would serve to help others who were experiencing the same
horrors as we had," explains Kathy. A friend who lived
near the New Jersey offices of Prentice Hall -- a major publisher
in the 1970's -- took it upon himself to see if there was any
interest in a book about the Lutzes' experiences in Amityville.
He was referred to Tam Mossman who was an editor for Prentice
Hall specializing in publishing books on the occult.
AMITYVILLE HORROR IS BORN
Mossman was intrigued by the Lutzes' story and told their friend
that he would like to meet with them. In March 1976, George
and Kathy visited him in his office and proceeded to tell him
of their twenty-eight day ordeal. Impressed with the couple's
story, Mossman asked screenwriter and friend Jay Anson to listen
to the couple's story.
the time, Jay Anson was introduced as a documentary writer working
for a Manhattan-based company called Professional Films. Conveniently,
Anson was renting desk space in the same office as Mossman.
Mossman looked to Anson to be the determining factor in whether
the Lutzes story should be turned into a book. A few years prior,
Anson had worked on a documentary on the making of William Friedkin's
landmark 1973 horror film "The Exorcist" based on
the novel by William Peter Blatty. It was on the set of "The
Exorcist" that Jay Anson became knowledgeable in matters
of the occult through his association with the production's
technical advisor, Reverend John Nicola -- a Catholic priest.
that their story needed more corroboration, Anson interviewed
Father Ray. After this interview Anson believed that he had
a commercial project on his hands. In April of 1976, he set
out to write the Lutzes' story. However, instead of interviewing
the Lutzes, Anson used only the audio tapes that George and
Kathy had made to help them make sense of their experiences.
"In addition to our audio tapes, we turned over the house's
blueprints and all of our research into the history of 112 Ocean
Avenue," says George. Over the next few months, bed ridden
from a heart attack, Anson wrote two chapters a week until his
work was completed. Events surrounding the book's conception
were just as mysterious as the story it described.
a March 1979, Writer's Digest interview, Jay Anson
explained some of the misfortunes that befell those involved
with the book's development. A friend of Anson's took some of
the early chapters home to review and that night her and her
two children suffocated in a fire. The only item not damaged
was the manuscript. After Anson completed the book, his editor
picked up the manuscript and put in his trunk. He later drove
through what he thought was a mud puddle; it turned out to be
a 12' hole. Even though the car was completely immersed, the
manuscript remained dry.
Easter week 1976, the Lutzes concluded that they could never
again live at 112 Ocean Avenue. Disappointingly, the psychic
investigators were unable to "fix" the house. After
consulting with Father Ray, they asked a few of their closest
friends to enter the house and prepare what they could for the
Salvation Army. "They were warned by Father Ray that the
only time they could enter the house was during Holy Week and
only while it was daylight," recalls George. "They
were also to say a special prayer prior to entering the house
and stay no longer than one hour." During the time they
were there, a special mass was being said by Father Ray.
Capra, knew George Lutz for at least six years prior to moving
in to the house in Amityville. Capra owned a garage that serviced
vehicles belonging to George's land surveying business. Once
Capra arrived at the house in Amityville, he went right to work.
He began pulling out a slew of clothing, which he estimated
to be worth at least $3,000. Most of the clothing went to the
Salvation Army, while several other items were to be auctioned
off at a later date. "We had been warned by Fr. Ray that
we could not take these items out of the house. Doing so would
be detrimental to us," says Kathy.
had reported to the Lutzes of seeing broken glass pointing to
a break-in. However, as much glass was on the inside as the
outside also denoting a break-out. While there, Capra hastily
repaired a leak in the basement. He later told George how odd
it was that the first floor felt much colder than the other
parts of the house. The most convincing thing for Capra was
not that George had turned to religion over the last few months,
but seeing him give up all of his possessions. Even Capra's
father was astonished because he knew George as a "penny
around noon George's other friend, Benny, arrived to help. After
already staying longer than they were supposed to, Capra and
Benny carried out a cedar chest -- the only thing the Lutzes
were allowed by Fr. Ray to reclaim. Kathy points out. "The
cedar chest was a heirloom handcrafted by George's grandfather.
Father Ray had said the cedar the chest was made from would
shield it against any negative energies trying to infest the
items inside." The small chest contained a few of the family's
picture albums and important documents. During the hour Benny
was there, his girlfriend stayed in the car refusing to go in
the house. However, she eventually wandered into the garage
where the two men had been checking on George's speed boat.
"I was told she complained about feeling uneasy and returned
to the car," says George. "A week later she was arrested
for murdering Benny."
that spring, the rest of the Lutzes' items were auctioned or
given to charity. These items included George's three Harley
Davidson Motorcycles, the family's cabin cruiser and speedboat
and the remaining items left inside the house. After paying
off the cabin cruiser, the Lutzes netted less than $2000 from
the auction. "It was not until much later that I found
out that some of the people that bought items at the auction
had suffered misfortunes," says George.
Mother's Day 1976, the Lutzes left New York. George had sold
his family business to the first person who responded and to
the first offer. He received less than $30,000 up front for
a business worth $250,000. The buyer would paid an additional
$20,000 over the next three years.
and Kathy simply wanted to get as far away from the house as
possible. They eventually settled on the opposite side of the
country near San Diego, California. To make ends meet, the family
had to live on food stamps and George and Kathy had to go door
to door delivering Reader's Digest magazines.
August of that year, George and Kathy voluntarily gave the house
in Amityville back to the bank, thus forfeiting any equity they
had tied up in it. "In good conscience, we could not sell
the house to another family because we could not eradicate what
was there and did not want to be responsible for passing it
on," says Kathy. Unfortunately, it was a bitter end to
the Lutz family's shattered dream of turning 112 Ocean Avenue
into a happy home.
the fall of 1977, Jay Anson's "The Amityville Horror"
hit bookstores. Almost overnight the book became a success and
remained a bestseller for years. Little did anyone know that
the book describing the Lutzes' ordeal would sell over two million
Amityville Horror" took the public by storm. The house
at 112 Ocean Avenue with its eye-like windows had suddenly gone
from a house of tragedy to an international icon of terror.
Almost immediately, the village of Amityville became ground
zero for an invasion of tourists who came in search of the infamous
house. In an attempt to thwart the tide of "AH'ers",
the nickname given to the tourists, the village proclaimed the
story to be a hoax.
course, very rarely does Hollywood turn a blind eye toward a
book that is such an overwhelming success. By 1978, the movie
version of "The Amityville Horror" was in production.
Actors James Brolin and Margot Kidder had the challenge of playing
George and Kathy Lutz. Since Amityville refused to allow the
production company to film in the village limits, an alternate
location had to be found. A Dutch Colonial house in Tom's River,
New Jersey, was finally chosen. The "ominous movie house"
was perfect for inspiring fear in the audience.
July 27, 1979, "The Amityville Horror" opened in theatres
across the nation. However, unlike the book, the subtitle of
"A True Story" was missing. Though the movie became
a success, it failed to capture the same story Jay Anson's book
had. In fact, due to time constraints the Lutzes' twenty-eight
day stay in the house was shortened in the movie. In addition,
many events in the film were sensationalized to shock and terrify
audiences. Even Lalo Schifrin's rejected score for "The
Exorcist" was used as the music in the film and went on
to be nominated for an Academy Award.
the movie was a box office success, it sparked even more controversy
over its inaccuracies. To the best of their ability, George
and Kathy Lutz tried to stand by the validity of their story,
citing that the movie was strictly a Hollywood adaptation. "Although
I was hired as a creative consultant, I was barred from the
set and had no creative input in it," says George. "The
only creative pull I had on the film was used up when I insisted
that the producers edit out a few inappropriate scenes of the
movie involving Margot Kidder. Otherwise, I nor Kathy would
help promote the movie." Since the scenes were removed,
George and Kathy did help promote the movie.
of the newspapers that had been covering the Lutzes' horrifying
ordeal had now switched gears and also began calling the story
a hoax. Unknowingly, it was these same critics and reporters
with their conspiracy theories who kept the story in the public
spotlight for over two decades. The debate about "The Amityville
Horror" has lasted well into the 21st Century.
- DEBUNKING THE DEBUNKERS
Lutzes' critics called Jay Anson's book "preposterous,"
citing many of the inaccurate dates of weather patterns and
meteorological events. Since Anson had to work from the Lutzes'
audio tapes, he tried to compile the information in a way that
could not only be entertaining, but make sense. Even though
much of the book was written in a chronological fashion, the
Lutzes never stated the specific dates at which events transpired.
"Often we wish we had kept a log, that we had written down
everything when it happened. There was no idea that such a thing
would be something we wanted to do or ever wanted a record of,"
explains George. Anson addressed the mistakes in his book in
a March 1979, Writer's Digest interview by excusing
himself for "being human."
example of the dramatic license Anson incorporated in the story
involved the front door. In "The Amityville Horror,"
Anson wrote that George Lutz had "awakened to find his
250lb. front door hanging by one hinge." "The truth
of the matter was that I discovered the front door slightly
damaged and the storm door left hanging on one hinge,"
says George. According to the Lutzes, the storm door weighed
approximately forty or fifty pounds -- not a 250lb. monstrosity.
During the summer, the storm door could even double as a screen
door after its heavy glass was removed.
also inaccurately wrote that Sgt. Cammarato of the Amityville
Police Department came to the house, even though the Lutzes
had already publicly stated otherwise. In later editions of
the book, the name "Zammataro" appeared in place of
"Cammarato" after the police officer sued to have
his name removed. Because the subtitle, "A True Story"
appeared on the cover of the book, the Lutzes' claims were heavily
scrutinized. Self-proclaimed "debunkers" of the story
used Jay Anson's dramatic license as proof that George and Kathy
Lutz had concocted a hoax. These outspoken critics publicly
challenged the couple to "get their story straight."
August 1977, one month before "The Amityville Horror"
hit bookstore shelves, George and Kathy Lutz finally signed
a contract with author Jay Anson. The time frame provided little
opportunity for the couple to enforce the changes they had made
to the galleys. Today, it is unclear what has become of these
galleys since Anson succumbed to a fatal heart attack in the
early 1980's. Regardless, George and Kathy Lutz never would
have publicly supported the book if they did not feel it closely
described their ordeal. In their eyes, the inaccuracies in the
book were nothing more than semantics. "Overall, we felt
that Jay Anson had done an accurate job of describing life at
112 Ocean Avenue," says George. Because "The Amityville
Horror" was an overwhelming success, George and Kathy Lutz
have been accused of capitalizing on a tragedy.
monies we received from Jay Anson's book were downright necessary
to keep the family going," explains Kathy. "They might
have replaced some of our material possessions, but nothing
could replace our loss of innocence at the house in Amityville."
George adds. "We did not get filthy rich off Jay Anson's
book and quite a bit of the first book's profits were immediately
put back into developing a second book about all the things
that happened to the other people that were involved in this
case." Regretfully, the project fell apart when the author
the Lutzes had hired disappeared. Nevertheless, the Lutzes'
critics used the success of "The Amityville Horror"
as a soapbox to shout hoax.
LIE DETECTOR TEST
June 19, 1979, George and Kathy Lutz went to the offices of
Professional Security Consultants in Hollywood, California to
take a lie detector test and prove their critics wrong. The
test was conducted by two qualified examiners: Chris Gugas,
member of the American Polygraph Association and Michael Rice,
member of the California Academy of Polygraph Science. Both
examiners reviewed a copy of "The Amityville Horror"
prior to administering the test.
interviews and stimulation tests were given to both George and
Kathy to determine if they were suitable subjects for the polygraph.
During the polygraph test, a stoelting polygraph instrument
was used to record blood-pressure, hear rate, respiration and
electrodermal resistance. For further accuracy, George and Kathy
were tested separately.
following five questions were asked by Chris Gugas to George
Lutz to determine if he had been telling the truth.
Are the details you gave me on your frightening experiences
at the Amityville house true?
When you fled your Amityville house, were you in fear of your
life and the well being of your family?
After leaving Amityville did you and Kathy both levitate at
your mother-in-law's house?
During your 28 days in Amityville, did you experience unexplained
flies and disturbing odors on several occasions?
At the Amityville house, did you hear what sounded like a
marching band tuning up in the middle of the night?
Lutz answered YES to all of the five questions.
following five questions were asked by Michael Rice to Kathy
Lutz to determine if she had been telling the truth.
To the best of your ability did the events of that Amityville
house as recorded on your tapes actually happen?
Are all the events discussed in your interview today true
While in the Amityville house did you actually see yourself
as an old woman?
While in the Amityville house were you embraced by an invisible
While in your Amityville bed did you actually feel the presence
of an invisible being over you?
Lutz answered YES to all of the five questions.
the tests were concluded, the examiners evaluated the Lutzes'
charts. Both Chris Gugas and Michael Rice proclaimed in their
report that the results showed George and Kathy Lutz were telling
the truth. On July 24, 1979, The Star reported these
results in an article covering two full pages. Regardless, the
tests did not satisfy the Lutzes' critics.
tests were wrongfully criticized and labeled a publicity stunt
performed by The Star. The skeptics also failed to
learn the qualifications of either Gugas or Rice before making
their accusations. At the time, Gugas and Rice were considered
experts in their fields and were asked to perform similar examinations
on other famous individuals. Together they performed examinations
of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassin James Earl Ray and
actress Terry Moore, who claimed she had been married to Billionaire
Tycoon Howard Hughes.
his book "The Silent Witness," Chris Gugas made a
strong case for the polygraph's accuracy in deciphering the
truth. Later in his career he served on the board of several
well known polygraph organizations and eventually founded the
National Polygraph Association. Throughout his career, Chris
Gugas had been instrumental in getting many domestic and foreign
government agencies to adopt the use of the polygraph. "We
could not have asked for a better examiner," says George.
of the most vocal disbelivers in the validity of the Lutzes'
polygraph test was Stephen Kaplan -- the alleged expert George
Lutz had previously fired. Kaplan called the test a sham and
Chris Gugas a "Ringer". These kinds of baseless accusations
were typical of Kaplan, who in twenty years never provided any
documented proof to substantiate his allegations that the Lutzes
had created a hoax.
took it upon himself to be the biggest critic and debunker of
the Lutzes' story. The day after George Lutz excluded him from
investigating the Amityville house, Kaplan was quoted in the
now defunct Long Island Press as saying, "a hoax
was being presented." "As best I can determine, Kaplan
did this in response to me excluding him from any official investigation
into 112 Ocean Avenue," explains George. "This was
the start of a vendetta against us and many of the people who
had helped us."
vendetta against the Lutzes became a public sparring match between
him and Ed and Lorraine Warren -- the first psychic investigators
ever to enter 112 Ocean Avenue with the Lutzes' permission.
The Warrens concluded that an inhuman force was present in the
home and to this day continue to support the Lutzes' claims.
For years, Kaplan proclaimed the Warrens to be frauds and the
cases they worked on to be bogus. Countless times the husband
and wife team debated with Kaplan on radio and TV programs.
"We publicly offered Kaplan a $3000 reward if he could
substantiate his claims that the Lutzes' story was a hoax. Kaplan
was never able to provide any such evidence," recalls Ed
Warrens were finally vindicated in 1982 on the Joel Martin
Show where Stephen Kaplan apologized to them. Here is an
excerpt from the radio show on WBAB in New York.
How do we want to clear this up?
If Dr. Kaplan would simply write their newspaper a letter
that the Warrens are not charlatans. We do not go out to hood-wink
the public. This would satisfy us.
Is this agreeable to you Dr. Kaplan?
Sure. I will tell them. In fact I will write them a little
more information about a Mr. Karl Roshell not the university
of St. John's. I don't want to mention the gentleman a plug...
Again you and I don't agree on that point. If a guy wants
to be a witch then fine as long as you don't hurt anyone.
Okay, the Warrens are not interested in your vampire research
and will not impugn his reputations I understand. Is that
correct you don't care about his...?
We have never talked about Dr. Kaplan on any programs unless
we have been directly attacked.
Okay what about this business of alleged threats made by each
I think it was a misunderstanding. I think we are both nervous
of each other because we are in strange fields. I get a feeling
people think I cohort with vampires. Maybe the Warrens cohort
with fighting against demons and bringing with them. I think
there were a lot of nervousness involved.
Okay have we performed an exorcism tonight? Are all the bad
spirits and bad feelings gone?
Well, I want to thank you very much Joel for bringing us together...
I don't want thanks...
Well you deserve thanks for clearing the air.
I am here because I think you folks were wrongly criticized
very wrongly and I think it ought to been corrected.
Alright I hope for the future you work together or don't work
together as the case may be, but with no impugning or derogatory
remarks about reputations.
The forces of Evil are stronger in terms because they are
more united than we are. It would not shock me that in the
future somewhere that Ed and Lorraine Warren and I get together
on certain cases if need be against if forces which have hurt
the public and the people.
Is the animosity over?
I have no animosity to the Warrens.
Is the misrepresentations over?
I feel happy that it is over that the frustration is over.
That my obsession with the truth because sometimes that truth
is not truth is over.
his public apology, Stephen Kaplan went on to write "The
Amityville Horror Conspiracy" which was published weeks
after his death in 1995. The book proclaimed "The Amityville
Horror" to be nothing but a hoax and its participants conspirators
in a well-documented lie. Most of the theories in "The
Amityville Horror Conspiracy" were supported by misinformation
reported in the press and on TV. Looking back on it, George
explains, "We did not have control over many of things
that were reported in the media, but nevertheless we were the
ones who were blamed for the inaccuracies."
the height of the media frenzy in 1976, Laura DiDio was a news
assistant working for Channel 5 News. She had recorded many
of her conversations and thoughts about the Lutzes' story in
her notebook. According to her notebook she thought Kaplan was
a "nut." Furthermore, she wrote:
continued to contact Weber and Burton throughout the following
week -- February 16 -- and no the Lutzes still were not talking.
Weber did have something new to report however, and that was
that a Dr. Steven Kaplan, who taught a course in parapsychology
and billed himself as an international celebrity in the field
of Vampirology, was going to lead a group of white witches into
the house to conduct an exorcism on Saturday, February 28. Channel
7's Eyewitness News had been invited to film an exorcism.
Weber said that Channel 5 could go also. From what I know about
the occult -- the whole thing seemed strange. Exorcisms were
performed by priests, not witches. A call to Kaplan did nothing
to allay my suspicions that such a foray into the house would
be little more than a three ring circus.
wrote in "The Amityville Horror Conspiracy" that in
April of 1976, he pretended to be George Lutz' friend and bluffed
his way past the auctioneer preparing the family's belongings
for sale. "Because at the time we still owned the house
and Kaplan had no proper authorization to be inside, he was
trespassing," responds George. Although he had gained admittance
into the house, Kaplan brought no scientific equipment to conduct
tests. "Kaplan admitted on the air on the Ronnie Gans
Show that he didn't even know the names of the instruments
he claimed he had used in his so-called scientific investigation
of the house," says Ed Warren.
today, Stephen Kaplan's credentials as a parapsychologist are
still debated. Kaplan graduated from a city college in New York
with a Bachelor's degree in sociology and later earned a Master's
degree in communication skills. In "The Amityville Horror
Conspiracy" Kaplan himself acknowledged his doctorate came
from a "university without walls." It is not clear
if this is the same doctorate that he admitted to being "strictly
honorary" on the Long John Nebel talk radio show in the
late 1970's. Where Mr. Kaplan received his training in parapsychology
is still unclear, yet anyone who refers to himself as a "professional
vampirologist," according to the Warrens and the Lutzes,
hardly has the credentials -- or the credibility -- to call
"The Amityville Horror" a hoax.
his career, Stephen Kaplan espoused a belief in modern day vampires
and founded The Vampire Research Center of America in Elmhurst,
New York. An Associated Press article described that part of
Kaplan's research included "sleeping in coffins and drinking
blood." In the 1977 book, "What It Costs," Kaplan
stated, "We [The Vampire Research Center of America ] authenticate
whether a vampire exists or not by investigating both primary
and secondary sources." Kaplan's typical fee for his vampirology
stated in Kaplan's book, even the next owners of the Amityville
house, the Cromartys, were reluctant to give him permission
to investigate. Finally, they allowed Kaplan to take a few pictures
of the house during a costume party on Halloween Night 1979.
It was definitely not the appropriate circumstances to conduct
an investigation into the house.
since I did not contribute to helping him become famous, the
only other way for Kaplan to become famous was to call the whole
thing a hoax", insists George. Indeed, the case that Stephen
Kaplan is most notorious for is "The Amityville Horror."
However, much of Kaplan's theories in his book, "The Amityville
Horror Conspiracy," are based on nothing more than misquoted
newspaper articles, and of course the dramatic inaccuracies
in Jay Anson's book.
is a fact that in journalism errors happen. Even Kaplan's book,
"The Amityville Horror Conspiracy," contained flaws.
For example, Kaplan wrote the date of Marvin Scott's televised
coverage of the seance in the house was February 24, 1976. But,
the people that were present say it was March 6, 1976. In fact,
even the news report had the date "March 6, 1976"
flash on the screen. Another one of Kaplan's errors concerned
the lawsuit brought against the Lutzes by the Cromartys. In
"The Amityville Horror Conspiracy", Stephen Kaplan
reported the lawsuit was settled out of court for half a million
dollars. In reality, the suit was settled for less than a $100,000.
Kaplan proclaimed that he was a parapsychologist, he never backed
up the claims in his book that supernatural forces were never
present at 112 Ocean Avenue with quantitative and verifiable
scientific data. Even the most basic element of any paranormal
investigation was missing: a first person interview with George
and Kathy Lutz to determine their credibility.
a People magazine article dated September 17, 1979,
William Weber was described as a "whistle blower"
and "a man with his own axe to grind." In the article,
Weber charged, "We created this horror story over many
bottles of wine...George was a con artist." "I'm sure
when we met with Mr. Weber there were some bottles of wine on
the table. It was a hard time for us," remembers George.
Weber insists that the Lutzes perpetrated a hoax that he helped
create. He claims he never believed in the prospect of Ronald
DeFeo Jr. being possessed and admits to wanting to write a book
about the murders. At the end of his own never-realized book,
Weber planned to leave it up to the reader to decide whether
Ronald DeFeo Jr. was mentally ill, a cold-blooded killer or
possessed by some diabolical force. Weber still contends that
the Lutzes' story was planned as a fictional addition to the
epilogue of his book. "It makes no since that Weber would
accuse us of concocting a hoax with him and then make us swear
on a contract that he wanted us to sign that we were telling
the truth," remarks George.
the 1976 contract that Weber and his partners (Hoffman, Mars
and Burton) wanted George and Kathy Lutz to sign stated otherwise.
The second page, third clause reads:
& K Lutz represent and warrant that the experiences which
they have related and will relate in connection with their ownership
and occupancy of the premises formerly owned and occupied by
the DeFeo family at 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York,
are true and that all records, tapes or artifacts now in their
possession which pertain to these experiences shall be held
solely and exclusively for the use of the company, and G &
K Lutz further represent and warrant that they each are willing
to undergo a polygraph (lie detection) test conducted by a competent
and experienced operator and otherwise swear to the truth of
their statements when same shall be in the best interests of
the COMPANY, and so requested by the COMPANY and that their
participation and equity in the COMPANY shall depend upon the
results of such test and their willingness to cooperate with
the media as determined by the COMPANY from time to time, and
they further represent and warrant that they will not conduct
any interviews, make any appearances or issue any statements
concerning these experiences, except in the best interests and
sole benefit of the COMPANY.
third page, fifth clauses defines what the book will be:
shareholders herein individually agree that the purpose of the
COMPANY is to promote the publication of the DeFeo story as
well as the events which occurred at the DeFeo house and the
history of the property as experienced by G&K Lutz. Such
publication is meant to be inclusive of all forms and involving
all known media sources.
Lutzes chose to turn down the offer and not sign Weber's contract
because they felt it was not in their best interests. "After
Weber proposed his book deal to us, we came to the conclusion
he was someone we could not trust nor wanted to spend any more
time with," says George. Furthermore, Ronald DeFeo Jr.
stood to gain financially from Weber's proposed book. "I
felt that maybe Ronald DeFeo Jr. could get some counseling,
get some help if we went to Weber and related our experiences
in the house", recalls Kathy. For George and Kathy, the
prospect of Ronald DeFeo Jr. now profiting from killing his
entire family could not be entertained.
March 12, 1981, William Weber testified in a deposition in a
lawsuit against the Lutzes, Jay Anson and Prentice Hall. It
was filed by the Cromartys. They cited Jay Anson's book was
an invasion of their privacy and reportedly sued for over two
million dollars. The suit was eventually settled out of court.
The following is an excerpt from a sixty-two page deposition
given under oath by William Weber.
You just stated this afternoon that they [Lutzes] recounted
some of their experiences to you at this first meeting at
Mrs. Connor' house.
Could you recount any of those experiences as they were related
to you as to what transpired in the house during the time
they occupied it?
Basically, they were talking about the change in themselves
and in their children and their relationships with each other
during the period of time they lived in the house, and how
they could offer no other excuse but to say there were certain
forces acting upon them in the house. That was basically what
they were talking about.
Did the Lutzes, on that occasion and during the course of
those several hours, make any statement indicating that they
had told of their experiences in that house at 112 Ocean Avenue
to anyone prior to talking to you?
They told me they told the priest. They told me that their
mother-in-law, Mrs. Connors, was there in the house one or
two times when certain things happened to them, and that they
told her the rest.
What incidents had they told you had occurred while Mrs. Connors
was present at 112 Ocean Avenue?
I specifically remember that when he was describing that Kathy
had changed into an eighty year old woman, that Mrs. Connors
had seen the aftereffects. She was there the day or two afterwards,
and she reiterated at her home that Kathy was improving, but
she still looked very, very old and didn't look herself.
Did the Lutzes tell you at this first meeting what they wanted
from you during the this two and a half or three hour meeting?
They wanted as much information as possible about DeFeo and
his family, because they wanted to see in what way their experiences
in the house coincided with whatever information I could give
31 - 32]
Did the subject of a commercial project ever get mentioned
during the first meeting?
It did, but lightly.
Who raised it?
I think I raised it.
Could you recount what you said to them?
I think I told them we were about to retain someone -- a writer
who had an agent -- who might look in the possibility of a
book, and since they had been living in the house, maybe their
story might be part of it as an epilogue.
They had told you their story already?
No. They didn't really tell me any great story, other than
the change in their living patterns, and the fact that Kathy
had become an eighty year old lady, and they had heard voices
there, and there were so many strange things going on. When
they finally decided to go to the priest, the priest told
them to get out of the house right away, and they didn't know
at that point what was happening or what had happened. They
said the priest was slowly going to educate them, because
he felt that if he just came out and told them all at once,
that he might adversely affect them.
After you raised this possibility of a commercial project,
what did they say to you?
They hedged. They did not say we want to participate, they
did not say we don't want to participate. They said they will
have to see.
claims that the information he gave to the Lutzes concerning
the DeFeo family helped them construct "The Amityville
Horror." One direct example is Missy's friend, Jody. Weber
said he told George and Kathy about a neighbor's fat cat called
Evinrude. Weber told the couple that Ronnie DeFeo used to call
the cat a pig because it used to sit on the window seal and
look into the house. In the 1979 People article, Weber
said, "He [George] improvised on that and in the book sees
a demon pig through the window."
so, says Missy Lutz who is now thirty-years-old. She laughs
at the notion that Jody was simply a cat. When asked recently,
she described Jody as an "evil entity trying to gain control
over her actions." Missy recalls that Jody had the ability
to be whatever it wanted to be and at what ever size it wanted.
Sometimes Jodi gave her a choice: a little boy or a pig. "Since
I was only five, I chose the pig," explains Missy.
the November 9, 1982 issue of The National Examiner,
Dr. Hans Holzer, noted parapsychologist, stated that he was
approached by William Weber in the fall of 1976 to investigate
112 Ocean Avenue. Dr. Holzer concluded that the force in the
house was resulting from a desecrated Indian burial ground.
More important than Holzer's involvement was the fact that Weber
himself called upon a parapsychologist to investigate the house
that the Lutzes fled -- a story that Weber claimed was a hoax.
Betty Carrington, William Weber's former legal secretary, wrote
a book entitled "Judicial Carousel." Carrington went
to work for Weber immediately following Ronald DeFeo Jr.'s conviction.
In her book, she described her days working for William Weber
and had some pretty interesting stories to tell about her former
boss. Regarding the Amityville case, Carrington wrote about
a time (presumably after "The Amityville Horror" had
already come out) in which Weber allowed a warlock and a medium
to come to his office to conduct a seance. During the seance,
the medium claimed she discovered that an evil force was residing
in the house.
believed in the possibility of something residing at the house
in Amityville. She wrote, "I know I personally would not
care to have resided at 112 Ocean Avenue if the place was given
to me." She also revealed that during an interview with
Weber, Ronald DeFeo Jr. spoke of changes in his personality
after moving to the house. He also added that his family felt
"someone might be hiding in the house" and that he
had heard the disembodied screams of men and women there.
to Carrington, Ronald DeFeo Jr. told Weber that his father felt
the devil lived in the house and had even brought a priest there
to sleep. Carrington never discovered the results of the priest's
Paul Hoffman went on to publish an unauthorized article about
the Lutzes and their twenty eight days. The article appeared
first in the New York Sunday News on July 18, 1976.
Later, Good Housekeeping carried the article in the
April 1977 edition of its magazine. What is interesting is that
Hoffman, a partner in Weber's proposed book, portrayed the article
as a work of non-fiction.
though the Lutzes felt that Hoffman's article was more or less
an accurate depiction of the events that transpired during their
twenty-eight days in the house, they had not given Hoffman permission
to publish it. Since "The Amityville Horror" had yet
to be published, Prentice Hall forced the Lutzes to sue William
Weber and Paul Hoffman out of fear that more unauthorized articles
would be printed. Also named in the suit was Hearst Publications,
owners of Good Housekeeping, Weber's law partners,
and New York Sunday News.
September 10, 1979, the case finally proceeded to the U.S. District
Court in Brooklyn, New York. The Lutzes case was dismissed almost
immediately because Judge Jack Weinstein believed the articles
were not an "invasion of their privacy." However,
the judge allowed Weber's counter-suit to continue, which was
eventually settled out of court for an unspecified amount.
the Lutzes did not win their case, Prentice Hall published the
book and the rest is history. Since the movie version of "The
Amityville Horror" was a summer hit in 1979, the newspapers
had a field day. The press reported that Father Ray testified
he heard a voice say, "get out." Additionally, the
press reported that Father Ray refuted most the afflictions
that befell him in Jay Anson's book.
to Judge Weinstein, the proceedings were closed and Father Ray's
testimony was sealed because of "priest-penitent"
privileges. "Father Ray never denied any part of the book
or his afflictions in court, but he was not as forthcoming as
he should have been," says George. "I can not understand
why the newspapers reported what they did."
fact, in a 1980 episode of ABC's Television's That's Incredible,
host Kathy Lee Crosby addressed the claims of the house's new
owners "that Father Ray was a charlatan and had admitted
under oath that the book was false." It was implied the
producers had gotten hold of a transcript of Father Ray's testimony
because Crosby cautioned that "the record of Father Ray's
testimony neither proves nor disproves the story."
in October 1979, Father Ray appeared on the show In Search
Of hosted by Leaonard Nimoy. To protect his privacy, the
producers interviewed Father Ray in silhouette. Nevertheless,
Father Ray gave a very descriptive account of what happened
to him in Kathy's sewing room at 112 Ocean Avenue. Even though
his reputation was presumably on the line with the Church, he
backed the Lutzes' claims on national TV.
March 18, 1977, Jim and Barbara Cromarty bought 112 Ocean Avenue
for $55,000. Two weeks later, on April 1, 1977, Jim and Barbara
moved in with their three children: Meryl, Joyce, and David
Roskind, Barbara's son from a previous marriage. A week after
arriving, Paul Hoffman's article entitled "Our Dream House
was Haunted" appeared
in that month's edition of Good Housekeeping. Immediately,
they were besieged with visitors who wanted to see the horrors
inside. To try and confuse the curiosity seekers, they changed
the address to 108 Ocean Avenue, which it remains to this day.
their tenure in the house, the Cromartys contended that the
biggest horrors they suffered were at the hands of the tourists,
nut cases and trespassers who camped outside their door waiting
for a glimpse of the supernatural. They blamed all the unwanted
attention on the success of Jay Anson's "The Amityville
Horror." At the height of the story's popularity, they
put the house on the market and moved away allowing a friend
to housesit. Regardless, the Cromartys continued to fight off
the story's success by calling it a hoax and the Lutzes liars.
Eventually they moved back in after they could not find a suitable
the Cromartys' own relatives believed that something was strange
about the new house. At seventeen, Donna Yancosik, niece to
Jim Cromarty, attended Massapequa High School just minutes away
from the house. "As part of a class assignment, I chose
to conduct an interview with my Uncle Jim, thinking that it
would be fascinating to hear his perspective on what is was
like to live in the famous Amityville Horror house," recalls
Donna. Donna and her friend arrived with tape recorder in hand
and proceeded to follow Jim Cromarty around the house. Jim Cromarty
led the girls through each room assuring the girls that the
story was a hoax and that the house was not haunted. After finishing
the interview, the girls returned to school.
complete our assignment, we played the interview in front of
our class," explains Donna. The girls had not reviewed
the tape before hand, so they had no way of knowing how the
interview came out. "It is a day that I will never forget
because a growling appeared on the tape," says Donna, "but
it only appeared each time my uncle proclaimed the story a hoax.
We were all horrified."
addition to the onslaught of tourists, the Cromarty's had suffered
their own tragedy while living at 112 Ocean Avenue. Barbara's
oldest son, David Roskind who had lived in the third floor bedroom
which Ronald DeFeo Jr. had occupied, died. The circumstances
of his death are undisclosed since death certificates are not
public record in New York State. In 1987, the Cromarty's finally
sold the house to another family, but proclaimed they had been
driven out by tourists and not demons.
VILLAGE OF AMITYVILLE
word Amityville means "friendly village." Unfortunately,
this is not the case once any well-meaning visitor to the South
Shore village asks about the Amityville Horror house. Amityville
wants tourists to come for the history and beauty of the community.
Established originally as part of Huntington Township in the
1600's, the name eventually changed to Amityville in 1846. The
village historians proudly boast of the community's former residents.
People like Will Rogers, Annie Oakley, and notorious figures
such as Al Capone vacationed in the area. In 1790, George Washington
even passed through.
the late 1970's, Amityville became synonymous with horror after
Jay Anson's book "The Amityville Horror" became a
best seller. The official Amityville Village response to the
story is that it was all a hoax. Often unaware of the facts,
many residents claim the Lutzes had a book deal before moving
to the property. Another theory posed is the Lutzes were part
of a ploy to get Ronald DeFeo Jr. out of prison and never actually
moved into the house. Regardless of official sentiment, there
are those in Amityville who will describe "off record"
of having strange experiences in the house.
Friday, June 16, 2000, Long Island's Newsday ran an
article entitled "Still Haunted by Amityville Horror --
Village declines to help TV show." The article described
the village having refused to cooperate with the production
of a documentary produced by The History Channel concerning
the 25th anniversary of the Lutzes' horrific tale. In this article,
Amityville Mayor Peter Imbert stated, "We don't see it
as a positive thing for the community." The two part episode,
which aired in October 2000, examined the long-standing dispute
over the Lutzes story. Perplexed, the show's producers insinuated
in the Newsday article that Amityville was hiding something.
of Amityville's leaders believe that the village should capitalize
on the story much like Salem, Massachusetts has chosen to cash
in on its ignominious reputation stemming from the Salem witch
trials of the late 1600s. There are those who believe the village
should buy the house and turn it into a bed and breakfast. However,
when presented with the idea, Amityville village trustees have
constantly voted against it. As generations change, the possibility
increases that someday Amityville will accept its fate.
years ago "The Amityville Horror" put the Village
of Amityville on the map. It is conceivable that in another
twenty-five years, tourists will still be travelling down Ocean
Avenue to see the "horror" house. If at that time
the house does not exist, then the visitors will be travelling
to see a vacant plot of land where the house formerly known
as 112 Ocean Avenue once existed.
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