In 1979, a movie was released titled The Amityville Horror that became an instant horror classic. This is the true story that inspired that supernatural masterpiece. The fact that the movie is based on a true story only adds to creepiness of the film.
The Amityville Horror movie follows a newlywed couple who move into a house with their family. The Lutz family — George and Kathy and their three children — bought the house for a steal due to the fact that the previous family, the DeFeos, were brutally murdered in the home. Soon after moving in, the Lutz family begin experiencing strange things. George becomes unhinged and things only get worse when he discovers a hidden room in the basement.
The DeFeo Family Murders
The true story begins with the DeFeo family, the owners before the Lutz family, who lived in the house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. On Thursday, November 13, 1974 at 3:15 am, 23 year old Ronald "Butch" DeFeo Jr. took his father's shotgun and systematically wiped out his family — beginning with his parents, then moving on to his two younger brothers before shooting his two younger sisters. Butch cleaned himself up and left his family laying in their beds as he drove to Brooklyn and disposed of his bloody clothes in a storm drain, then went to work at his grandfather's Buick dealership as usual. At the end of the day he returned to the house, went to the local bar and walked in screaming that his family had been murdered. The bartender called the police and reported the murders. The scene was soon mobbed by police, reporters and onlookers. All five bodies were found face down in their beds with no signs of struggle, killed by shotgun blasts, leaving Butch the only surviving member of the family.
The next day an officer found a box of shotgun shells and the murder weapon in Butch's bedroom. On November 15, Butch was taken in for questioning about the murders. He tried to blame the murders on his friend Louis Falini. After further interrogation Butch incriminated himself. Eventually, he confessed that he had committed the murders alone.
On October 14, 1975 Butch went to trial, charged with six counts of murder. Butch's lawyer, William Weber, tried to get him off on an insanity defense, however, the jury and judge didn't buy it.
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On November 19, 1975 the jury returned with a guilty verdict on all six counts of second-degree murder. Two weeks later he was sentenced to twenty-five years to life in prison. Today, he remains in the New York State Department of Corrections.
The Next Chapter: The Lutz Family
On December 18, 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new home. According to the family, within days of moving into the house they began to experience supernatural phenomenon. Their claims include slime oozing from the walls, strange noises, unexplained foul odors, large amounts of flies in the house and disembodied voices. George claimed he frequently woke up at 3:15 am to the sounds of music and gun shots. Their daughter, Missy, (who did not know of the murders) had an imaginary friend named Jody, the same name as one of the DeFeo daughters. Something must have scared them; the family fled, abandoning the house and all of their belongings only 28 days after moving in.
Their story quickly drew the attention of reporters. Channel 5 News New York were granted an exclusive interview with George and Kathy Lutz. The news show brought in famous paranormal investigators and Demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens investigated the house and held a seance, which was televised. During their investigation, the famous "Amityville ghost boy" photo was taken.
Lorraine Warren has stated that the house was the most terrifying place she had ever entered and that the red room in the basement is a portal to hell.
Not long after the media frenzy, The Amityville Horror: A True Story was written by Jay Anson in collaboration with George and Kathy Lutz. The family had to move to escape the publicity and angry friends of the DeFeo family.
Two years later, in 1979, The Amityville Horror movie was released, adapted from the book. The movie was directed by Stuart Rosenberg and stared James Brolin in the role of the unhinged father, George Lutz. Kathy was played by Margot Kidder.
In 2005, Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George starred in The Amityville Horror remake, directed by Andrew Douglas. I have to admit I was pleased with the remake.
Today many people question the truth of George and Kathy's claims. There have been many families who have lived in the "Amityville house" since the Lutz family moved out. Most of the occupants have stated they never experienced any supernatural activity while living in the house at 112 Ocean Avenue. Either way, their story inspired a horror classic and for that we are thankful.
For those of you with a love for the macabre and $1.5 million, the Amityville house is for sale.
What haunted house would you be willing to live in?