Amityville Horror: Horror or Hoax?

When George and Kathy Lutz moved into the three-story colonial in Amityville on New York's Long Island in December 1975, they were thrilled.

The sprawling house at 112 Ocean Ave. had cost them just $80,000, and they loved it. "It was a dream come true," George Lutz remembers.

True, the house had been the scene of a horrible multiple murder a little over a year before, when 23-year-old Ronnie DeFeo went from room to room methodically shooting his parents and his four brothers and sisters in their beds. But the Lutzes sat down with their three young children and agreed the family could handle it.

Just in case though, the day they moved in they had a priest, Father Ray Pecoraro, bless the house. According to Lutz, the priest said he felt an unseen hand slap him in the sewing room and heard a voice say "Get out." Then, Lutz says, Pecoraro became ill with flu-like symptoms and his hands began to bleed.

The family moved in anyway, but within days they began to notice strange phenomena.

"There were ... odors in the house that came and went," Lutz says. "There were sounds. The front door would slam shut in the middle of the night.... I couldn't get warm in the house for many days."

Lutz says the family kept the fireplace burning day and night in a futile attempt to stay warm, and found strange gelatinous drops on the carpet when they woke up in the morning. At times, he claims, his wife was physically transformed into an old woman, with the face, hair and wrinkles of a 90-year-old.

Lutz claims that he mysteriously woke at 3:15 a.m. almost every day — around the same time the DeFeo murders were believed to have happened. One night, he says, he heard his children's beds "slamming up and down on the floor" above him but he was unable to do anything because he was immobilized in bed by an unseen force. Later that night, he woke to see his wife levitating and moving across the bed, he says.

The next morning, just 28 days after they moved in, the Lutz family fled the house, leaving their clothes in the closets and food in the refrigerator. If the family had not left, Lutz says, he believes something horrible would have happened. "I try not to think about it," he says.

Psychic Slumber Party

As word spread of the Lutzes' experiences, people interested in the paranormal contacted them. Two months after the Lutzes moved out, reporter Laura Didio assembled a group of psychic researchers to evaluate the family's claims.

The investigators spent a night in the house, walking from room to room trying to pick up ghostly vibrations. "It was like a psychic slumber party," Didio remembers.

One of the researchers, Lorraine Warren, remembers an "overwhelming feeling" of "horrible depression" in the house. The team also took a series of time-lapse photos of the upstairs landing. None of the photographs showed anything out of the ordinary except one, which had what Didio describes as "the face of what appeared to be a little boy, peering out from one of the bedrooms."

Meeting With a Murderer’s Lawyer

Things returned to normal for the Lutz family after they left the house, and George Lutz began to wonder if it was the house's horrors that had driven DeFeo to kill his family.

"We realized there was something so wrong there that it would be inhuman, it would be improper, to just let him rot in jail and not try to help get him some kind of psychological help," Lutz said.

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