The Amityville Horror Phenomenon

A Story that Freaked Out a Nation – Might Be More False Than it is True

Cristal M Clark 

Back on July 27, 1979 when the Amityville Horror movie was first released people were mesmerized and quite frankly pretty freaked out, it was based on the true story of one 23-year-old Ronald J. DeFeo Jr. who murdered his entire family using a 35 Marlin rifle while they were asleep, which included his parents and four siblings.  

The movie centered around the Lutz family, who moved into the home months later. The Lutz family purchased the home at a drastically reduced price of $80,000 due to the murders of course, only to leave it roughly 28 after having moved in. 

They claimed a great deal of demonic paranormal activity had occured in the home, in fact some accounts are downright terrifying, and are what made the legend of the Amityville Horror and tons of books, not to mention documentaries and films.

In fact, two of the most educated and experienced paranormal investigators, Ed and Lorraine Warren visited the home after the Lutz family moved out. Lorraine Warren said: “The very first night that Ed and I went into that home I was fearful, but I didn’t know what I was fearful of.”

You can find archival images showing the home inside as it was immediately after the Lutz family “fled in terror” in 1975, as well as the Warrens conducting their investigation. Lorraine, who died in 2019, took with her a relic and asked clergy of many faiths to join her in spirit in the home to protect her and her husband, who died in 2006.

According to Lorriane: “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.”

Now if you are the skeptical sort, I don’t blame you here. I do believe in residual energy good and bad but demons? 

Here is what we know about the rest of the story – 

Ronadl DeFeo’s trial began on October 14, 1975. He and his defense lawyer, William Weber, mounted an affirmative defense of insanity, with DeFeo claiming that he killed his family in self-defense because he heard their voices plotting against him. The insanity plea was supported by the psychiatrist for the defense, Daniel Schwartz. The psychiatrist for the prosecution, Dr. Harold Zolan, maintained that, although DeFeo was a user of heroin and LSD, he had antisocial personality disorder and was aware of his actions at the time of the crime. 

With the drugs alone, I am pretty sure anyone would be hearing voices if not also suffering some sort of paranoid delusions, sort of like when the cops down in Miami, Florida back in 2012 who caught a guy eating someone’s face whilst high on “bath salts.” 

Could the murders leave an ominous bad, residual negative energy in the home? Yes, and what’s more is let’s not lose sight of the fact that others have lived in the home since with no issues, demonic or otherwise. In fact the biggest issue are those who travel through trying to glimpse the home. The actual street address has been changed just so folks can’t figure out which house it was. 

As for the Lutz family, well they faced the eyes of public scrutiny and the story had been discounted many times. They were accused of making the terrifying account of living in the home for 28 days up just so that they could get out of debt. 

Stepfather George Lutz had a history of dabbling in the occult.

George was said to wake up at 3:15 am every morning, which was around the time Ron carried out his murders. I usually wake up at that time daily, call it too much caffeine or stress due to the pandemic. 

The Lutz family claimed to smell strange odors, see green slime oozing out of the walls and keyholes and experience cold spots in certain areas of the house. Yet funny, no other owners have smelled nor seen any of that. 

When a priest came to bless the house, he allegedly heard a voice scream “Get out!” He told the Lutzes to never sleep in that particular room in the house. *The role of Father Pecoraro in the story has been given considerable attention. During the course of the lawsuit surrounding the case in the late 1970s, Father Pecoraro stated in an affidavit that his only contact with the Lutzes concerning the matter had been by telephone. Other accounts say that Father Pecoraro did visit the house but experienced nothing unusual there. Father Pecoraro gave what may have been his only on-camera interview about his recollections during a 1980 episode of In Search of- a documentary series hosted by Leonard Nimoy.

Father Pecoraro’s face was obscured during the interview to preserve his anonymity. In the interview, he repeated the claim that he heard a voice saying “Get out”, but stopped short of giving it a paranormal origin. He also stated that he felt a slap on his face during the visit and that he did subsequently experience blistering on his hands.

Other paranormal activity: A nearby garage door opening and closing; an invisible spirit knocking a knife down in the kitchen; a pig-like creature with red eyes staring down at George and his son Daniel from a window; George waking up to wife Kathy levitating off their bed; sons Daniel and Christopher also levitating together in their beds. Again, no one else who has lived in the home since has had any of these issues. 

The Lutz’s former lawyer William Weber — who fell out with them over…well money issues — came out in 1979, claiming that the three of them came up with the horror story “over many bottles of wine.”

The claims of physical damage to the locks, doors and windows were rejected by Jim and Barbara Cromarty, who bought the house for $55,000 in March 1977. In a television interview filmed at the house for That’s Incredible!, Barbara Cromarty argued that they appeared to be the original items and had not been repaired. The show also showed that the “Red Room” was a small closet in the basement and would have been known to the previous owners of the house because it was not concealed in – um well any way. 

Then we have the claim made in Chapter 11 of the book that the house was built on a site where the local Shinnecock Indians had once abandoned the mentally ill and the dying? Well that was rejected by local Native American leaders several times.

The claim of cloven hoof prints in the snow on January 1, 1976, was also oddly enough, rejected by other researchers because weather records showed that there had been no snow in Amityville on that date. Neighbors reported nothing unusual during the time that the Lutzes were living there as well. The police officers who were depicted visiting the house in the book and 1979 film have also been rejected because records showed that the Lutzes did not call the police during the period that they were actually living in the home on Ocean Avenue. There was actually no bar in Amityville called The Witches’ Brew at the time: Ronald DeFeo, Jr. was a regular customer at Henry’s Bar, a short distance from 112 Ocean Avenue, which is of very little concern, the names of people and places are changed sometimes to suite the needs of hollywood. 

As as the years passed the Lutz family filed lawsuits against, lawyers, news corporations and the like, they never really got anywhere with any of them and George has sort of half assed admitted that perhaps not everything depicted in the book and movie were necessarily a true account of what did happen, but he has always stood by “something did in fact happen in that house.” 

A lot can be said for a psychosomatic event here and honestly that is what I believe happened. I mean, think about it, they get all worked up after realizing a rather horrific murder occured in the home, they read Ronald’s defense and the mind tends to sometimes become stressed, out of fear and play a great deal of tricks on us. 

True or fake the story at the time Amityville Horror was one of the most terrifying demonic stories ever told up until that point.  

As for Ronald, well he is still in prison serving out his sentence as all of his appeals have been denied thus far.

Cristal M Clark

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