112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, NY, no longer exists. Nor do its chilling eye-like windows watch cars passing by through the neighborhood. Cars of gawkers and looky lous hoping to spot a glimpse of the Amityville Horror. It won’t even come up on Google Maps- nor will any of its neighbors. The house itself still exists and hasn’t moved a geographic inch. In place of its old address, the building has been renamed 108, with unassuming rectangular windows. Now, if someone wasn’t aware of its past history, you would pass by this disarming Dutch Colonial home and not be able to single it out. (It’s not mentioned on the town’s historical webpage, nor is this a topic of conversation for its residents)
But what happened within its walls is another story. One that no new street number or change in curb appeal can alter.
November 13, 1974, 3:00 AM. The house is asleep. A family lives here- parents Ronald DeFeo Sr and wife Louise. 18-year-old daughter Dawn, 13-year-old Allison, and two brothers, 12-year-old Marc, and 9-year-old John Matthew. The only person awake is the oldest son Ronnie Jr, age 23, who is currently living in the basement. Ronnie, or Butch, as friends call him, is a troubled son. He had been kicked out of high school, shoots drugs, and drinks heavily. He is barely holding onto a job as a gopher in his grandfather’s garage.
The clock ticks quietly on as Butch climbs up the stairs. One by one shoots his family as they lie on their stomachs in bed. Both parents are shot twice, the siblings once each. Both sisters, rather than shot in the back are shot in the head. There is some evidence that suggests Louise and daughter Allison were possibly awake at the time of their deaths. But it’s inconclusive. There is also a theory that the youngest son John Matthew, may have not died instantly. Though his wound would have crippled him.
Butch then takes a bath and puts on clean clothes. He gathers the gun, his blood-soaked clothes, rags he used to clean up, and the spent cartridges with him. Then, he leaves for work, disposing of the evidence along the way.
After work, he goes to Henry’s Bar. A local watering hole near the DeFeo home. He makes a show of calling the house several times around 6 pm, and no one answering, before heading home. He rushes back to the bar at 6:30 declaring “You have to help me! I think my mother and father are shot!” A group of patrons follows and they find that the DeFeo adults are indeed dead. Butch’s friend, Joe Yeswit, makes an emergency call to the local police department, who happen to have a car in the area. The police search the home and make the discovery of the siblings died in their beds as well.
Butch is taken into protective custody, as rumors are already spreading that the deaths are a mob hit. (Butch is busy spreading this story around to anyone who will listen. He states that a mob hitman Louis Falini himself did the job. It’s known that the DeFeo family has ties to the mob through the family car dealership. Ronnie Sr supposedly handles the books for money laundering. Butch insinuates his father may have been skimming off the top.
However, depending on who he’s speaking with, Butch’s story keeps changing slightly. It is discovered that Louis Falini wasn’t even in the state at the time of the killings. He then, surprisingly, confesses to the murders. He says the chilling words, “Once I started I just couldn’t stop. It went so fast.”
He tries claiming that it’s all foggy in his mind. But clearly remembers bathing in the house while his family’s bodies grow cold. He also remembers going through the house collecting all of the evidence. He even clearly remembers where he discarded the evidence, which the police quickly locate…. Exactly where he said he had left them.
Nothing supernatural is said. Nor is nothing of the like is shared in the days that follow. Just stories of how abusive his father was, how demeaning he was to Butch. How his mother just sat there and let it happen. Butch loathed having to share a bathroom with two younger “piggy” brothers. His sister’s taste in music got on his nerves. He had just reached the point where he couldn’t take it anymore.
That and the $200,000 in life insurance his father was worth. Along with the estimated $100,000 to $200,000 cash in the house that Butch asked about upon going into protective custody. Turns out he harbored a dream to start a new life somewhere far away from Amityville. Somewhere where he could finally be the Alpha Male.
He claimed he used no silencer on the rifle, and that he drugged the family first. Though the pathologist ran a variety of tests multiple times and found no medications whatsoever in their systems. Strangely, no one in the neighborhood heard anything other than the family dog, Shaggy, barking wildly in the yard.
At the trial, Butch claimed he was married to a woman to a woman named Geraldine Gates. Supposedly he lived with her in New Jersey. He said he was only at the house that evening because his mother called asking him to drive to Amityville. She needed help to break up a fight between Ronald and Dawn. He said he drove to Amityville with Geraldine’s brother, Richard Romondoe, who could provide an alibi of his innocence.
After that stories kept coming – starting with his sister Dawn and an unknown male committing the murders together. With the male disappearing into the night as Butch and Dawn wrestled for the gun. Dawn then was killed by accident during the struggle. An affidavit, supposedly from Richard Romondoe was submitted to the court. But no one knew where he was, so he couldn’t testify in person.
In 1990 Butch changed the story again to Dawn and his mother committing the murders together. Then, mom turned the gun onto Dawn. Butch only arriving in time to kill his mother in order to save himself. Again, he insisted, his wife Geraldine would vouch for him and would prove that her brother Richard did exist. This was the story he was sure would free him from prison.
She wasn’t even allowed to testify because the authorities had already discovered she had lied numerous times before. In 1992, however, the police had her fill out a sworn statement to keep on file. There she admitted that her so-called brother was complete fiction. Turns out Geraldine also had been married to someone else at the time of the crime. She only married Butch in 1989 as he was filing this latest story for an appeal.
But what has all of this to do with the Amityville haunting, you ask? Well, some will tell you that where great evil is done, that a residue is left behind. A portal opened, or, at least, a thinness where something can seep through.
After Butch went to prison, in October of 1975, the house went up for sale. George and Kathleen Lutz purchased the house in November of that year for the low price of $80,000. A steal at the time, considering the house had 5 bedrooms, a swimming pool, and a boathouse. The Lutz’s were made aware of the house’s history prior to purchase. They decided that the price was good enough that they could overlook stories of its unfortunate former residents. In fact, the house still held the majority of the DeFeo family’s furniture. So they paid an additional $400 to add that to the sale as well. It’s a fairly common practice. Though expecting Kathleen’s 3 kids from her previous marriage to sleep in beds that people were murdered in sounds pretty tight-fisted.
A friend suggested George have a priest come in to bless the home. As a non-practicing Methodist, he had no idea what that involved. Once Kathleen, a non-practicing Catholic explained what to expect, they decided to have it done for some peace of mind. George knew a Catholic priest, Father Ralph J Pecoraro, who agreed to come in and perform the service.
According to the story, while the family unpacked on Dec 18th, Father Pecoraro walked through the house, giving the blessing. When he came to Kathy’s new sewing room he couldn’t shake off how cold the room was. Even though it was a pleasantly warm day outside. Some accounts say he also noted there were hundreds of flies in that room, buzzing around the window. As he began blessing the room he was told by a loud masculine voice to “GET OUT”. Also, he was slapped by an unseen hand. He didn’t mention the incident at all to the Lutz family when he left the house.
It wasn’t until the 24th of the month that he called George and told them to stay out of that room. It turned out to be the former bedroom of Marc and John Matthew. The call, however, was cut short by static on the line. After the visit to the home, Father Pecoraro developed a high fever, and blisters similar to stigmata on the palms of his hands. He attributed it to being attacked by the malevolent spirit he encountered.
By mid-January, the Lutz’s asked Father Pecoraro back to attempt another blessing. This turned out to be their final night in the house. The events that happened were too frightening to deal with. So they fled to Kathy’s mother’s house in the nearby city of Deer Park. They claimed the issues followed them there, so they left all of their possessions behind and moved out. A mover arrived the next day to pack up their belongings, but nothing happened while he was inside the home.
During the month that the family resided at 112 Ocean Avenue, claims were made that the doors, windows, and locks were broken, kicked in, or smashed numerous times. Claims of cloven hoof prints made by a demonic pig in the snow, who would also look human at times, except for the bright red glowing eyes. Gelatinous puddles on the carpets. George Lutz wakes up every morning at exactly 3:15. Stories of Kathy and the kids levitating in their bed. So much may or may not have happened in that house, that the actual story may never actually be known. Especially as both George and Kathy, who experienced much of the horrors, are now deceased.
And what of the children? Daniel, who would have been 9 at the time, came out with a documentary in 2012 called My Amityville Horror. In it he lays out a lot of what he insists actually happened. He also discusses how being known as the “Amityville kid” ruined his life. Christopher, who has a new last name of Quaratino, has appeared on a few broadcasts. He claims that, while a lot of the book and movies are fictionalized accounts, there really was a horrible bunch of things that happened. He doesn’t blame the DeFeo’s. However states it was his stepfather, George Lutz, an occultist who was fascinated by the history of the house. He says George opened the house up to things he shouldn’t have.
And Melissa? She was 5 at the time they were living in the house. Now, no one seems to know where to find her. She is doing a good job of keeping her head down and staying out of sight. It may well be she has no memory of what happened back then. If any of this really happened, let’s hope it stays forgotten for her.
The Lutzs took a polygraph test, and both George and Kathy passed with no signs that they were lying.
George has stated time and again that the book written by Jay Anson in 1977, was nothing they really discussed together. They simply recorded 45 hours of tapes with their story. Anson went on to beef it up for the market. Also, they had nothing to do with the movies, and have had no control over the storyline. They couldn’t even sue over the use of their own names.
George has admitted that a lot of what is in the book isn’t entirely true. But then states that the truth is just too terrifying for him to want to dwell on further. It has been noted that at one point he had a webpage devoted to separating fact from fiction. It was called amityvillehorror.com but, with his death in 2006, it is no longer active.
The Lutz’s were the only people to have negative experiences in the home (other than the priest). It could be that the haunting died off after they left. Especially if George was the one who had accidentally started it. The fact that they’ve remained adamant about their story over the decades even when no one else has experienced anything in the house shows their belief that something really did take place.
The idea that the family created this story to make a quick buck seems unlikely. They only received a small fraction of the book’s proceeds. They received nothing from the many sequels or any of the movies. George had tried suing numerous people for “spreading lies” and using his name without permission. But none of them panned out.
Jodie, Melissa’s unseen friend, sometimes appears as a demonic pig or a spectral figure- both with bright red eyes. As incredibly strange as it sounds to have the same entity appearing in so many different forms if the Lutz’s made it all up, wouldn’t they just pick one form that sounded a little more reasonable? Just a pig or just a demonic doll? If you want multiple creepy characters popping up, wouldn’t it just be easier to create them as separate entities?
The Marching Band of Hell that the Lutz’s insisted would come blaring through their living room. Would anyone honestly make something like that up? A marching band? That would rearrange the furniture? But then again, maybe hell really is aware of how jarring that can be at odd hours. And marching drums are just so. darn. loud.
Despite not making anything from the story over the years, other than some initial book money, wouldn’t it just have been easier for one of the Lutz’s to come out and just admit it was a hoax? Especially the children, given how much it took over their lives afterward. Both Christopher and Daniel still insist things happened even when there is nothing to be gained from it. With the death of their parents, there would be no reason to keep a lie going.
Ed and Lorraine Warren were able to go into the house in February of 1976. She felt a strong ominous presence that she claimed even followed she and Ed home afterward. It also followed the Lusk family to Kathy’s mother’s house.
She later told an interviewer, “We met George Lutz at a pizza parlor some blocks away. The priest involved had told him that if he went back in the house again, giving the spirit recognition could bring it right back. And that is very accurate. The priest was right. He had also fallen victim to that house”.
As for her experience in the home, she has gone on record stating, “As I was going up the stairs, I reached the point where it felt as if a force of water [was] coming against my chest, almost like a waterfall. It was the worst feeling. I stopped on the landing and held tight to the relic that was in my hand and asked for strength and direction in going forward. It felt ominous to me.”
The Warrens even had the presence follow them home afterward. They refused to discuss it ever while traveling, as just discussing it could possibly bring it back up again. Lorraine was adamant they did not want to take a chance on attracting its notice while trapped in a car or an airplane, where you couldn’t control the outcome.
The house was also investigated by Hans Holzer, a famed parapsychologist. Like the Warrens, he felt that the house was occupied by malevolent spirits due to its history.
The fact that there are claims that they saw Jodie’s cloven hoofprints in the snow- when it was a warm winter without snow at the time.
Butch DeFeo’s lawyer William Weber had talked with George and Kathy Lusk about their story of why they abandoned the house. He said he wanted to meet with them as he was going into his first appeal for his client and was looking into a “the devil made me do it” defense. He says many of the stories they shared with Anson were just that – stories. And they were ones that he helped them make up while chatting together over many bottles of wine. According to Weber, the story of Jodie, the demon pig that would run through the yard, was what Butch used to call the neighbor’s cat – a little piggy that would come running through their yard. Which rings a bit true, considering Butch called his younger brothers little piggies as well.
No one else has even had a whiff of a haunting, despite the house being lived in for years at a time.
The so-called hidden away “red door” basement room wasn’t hidden from sight- in fact, it had been pointed out to them during the tour of the home.
Proof of Fiction
William G Roll, head of the Psychic Research Foundation has stated that the story is a work of fiction. The head of its New York office, Rick Moran adds that it was sloppily researched, riddled with errors of fact and that the people in the book were coached in their story by someone who had planned on using the information for their own uses. Moran knew Jay Anson, and while liking him as a nice man and someone who he liked, he stated “He’s done a helluva book and it’s making lots of money. You can’t fault him for that. My only quarrel is with the labeling of his book. It’s called nonfiction and it shouldn’t be.”
Despite the Lutz’s claiming their 250 lb front door being ripped twice off of its hinges – silently! And claiming original locks and windows were also broken, no damage was ever noted to the property- which still retained its original work at the time the Lutz’s abandoned the property. The Lutz’s also claimed to have called the police numerous times over these incidents, but no reports were ever filed with the police.
The priest who originally blessed the house later recanted his story. He has stated that any conversation with the Lutz’s was on the phone and that he had never visited the property. Nor did he ever hear voices or was slapped, or was nearly killed driving home afterward. He was eventually transferred to another Diocese and was supposedly forbidden to practice certain rites. That he never set foot in the house was corroborated in a lawsuit, Lutz vs Weber, in which the Lutz’s own attorney, William Daley, stated, “Father Ralph J. Pecoraro has indicated that his only contact relating to this case was a telephone call from the Lutzes regarding their psychic experiences.”
Catholic Church Claims Hoax
Out of all of the information that the Lutz’s have shared over their time in the house, you’d think Daniel’s shocking story that both George and Daniel were possessed by the Devil at various times would have been one of them, or how Daniel then goes on in his documentary to claim that his stepfather showed telekinetic abilities while living at the home. Yet the Catholic church has gone on record stating the entire thing to be an elaborate hoax, and Father Pecoraro stated he had never performed an exorcism.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre (where Father Pecoraro was transferred) finally broke its years of silence and commented on the Amityville hoax case. In a May 15, 2002 letter to Ric Osuna, in response to his questions regarding the ghost stories, the assistant to the Vicar General wrote, “The Diocese maintains that the story was a false report. In November of 1977, Diocesan attorneys prepared a substantial list, to be submitted to the publisher [of The Amityville Horror], of numerous inaccuracies, factually incorrect references, and untrue statements regarding events, persons and occurrences that never happened.”
During the period in which the Lutz family was living at 112 Ocean Avenue, Dr. Stephen Kaplan, a self-styled vampirologist and ghost hunter was called in to investigate the house. Kaplan and the Lutzes had a falling out after Kaplan said that he would expose any fraud that was found. Kaplan went on to write a critical book titled The Amityville Horror Conspiracy with his wife Roxanne Salch Kaplan. The book was published in 1995.
The so-called “demon boy” photo taken while the Warrens were investigating the house was supposed to have been taken by photographer Gene Campbell in 1976, yet the photo wasn’t released to the public until the Lutz’s appeared on the Merv Griffin show in 1979 to promote the release of the first movie.
Amityville Horror Resources