The Amityville Horror story begins in the early hours of November 13, 1974, when 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr. brutally murdered his entire family in their sleep.
The victims included his parents, Ronald Sr. and Louise, and his four siblings, Dawn, Allison, Marc, and John.
The case took a turn for the bizarre when the new homeowners, the Lutz family, claimed to experience a series of terrifying paranormal events, leading them to abandon the house after just 28 days.
Enter Ed and Lorraine Warren, renowned paranormal investigators, who were called upon to investigate the alleged haunting.
With their extensive experience in the field, the Warrens brought a new dimension to the case, claiming the house was infested with malevolent spirits.
Their investigation and subsequent findings have been the subject of intense debate and skepticism, adding another layer to the enigma of the Amityville Horror house.
Table of Contents
The DeFeo Family Tragedy
The DeFeo Family and Their Life in Amityville
The DeFeo family, composed of parents Ronald DeFeo Sr. and Louise, along with their five children, Ronald Jr., Dawn, Allison, Marc, and John Matthew, were well-known figures in the affluent neighborhood of Amityville, Long Island.
Their Dutch Colonial home, complete with a swimming pool and a boat dock, was a symbol of their seemingly idyllic life.
The family’s affluence was largely due to the financial support of Louise’s father, Michael Brigante, who had purchased the house for them, allowing them to move from their small Brooklyn apartment.
However, beneath the veneer of prosperity and normalcy, the DeFeo household was fraught with tension and discord.
Ronald DeFeo Sr., known as “Big Ronnie,” was a domineering and often abusive figure, particularly towards his eldest son, Ronald Jr., or “Butch.”
Butch, who was frequently bullied at school for his weight, turned to alcohol and amphetamines as a coping mechanism, further exacerbating the volatile family dynamics.
The Fateful Night of November 13, 1974
According to official reports, on the night of November 13, 1974, the simmering tensions within the DeFeo household reached a tragic climax.
Butch, armed with a .35-caliber Marlin rifle, systematically murdered his entire family while they were asleep. The victims were found face down in their beds, each shot with chilling precision.
The brutality of the crime was further underscored by the fact that none of the neighbors reported hearing gunshots, despite the absence of a silencer on the rifle.
Following the murders, Butch showered, dressed, and collected the incriminating evidence.
He then proceeded to dispose of the evidence, including the murder weapon, in a storm drain on his way to work.
Throughout the day, he maintained a facade of normalcy, even expressing concern about his family’s uncharacteristic silence.
Ronald DeFeo Jr.’s Confession and Arrest
Butch ran into a local bar in the evening, feigning panic and distress. He claimed that his family had been shot and led a group of patrons back to his house, where they were confronted with the horrifying scene.
The police were called, and Butch was taken into custody for his protection, as he initially claimed that his family had been targeted by the mob.
However, inconsistencies in his alibi and the timeline of the murders soon led to his confession. In a chilling admission to the police, Butch stated, “Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. It went so fast.”
The Trial of Ronald DeFeo Jr.
The Insanity Defense
The trial of Ronald DeFeo Jr. began in October 1975 and quickly became a national spectacle.
His defense lawyer, William Weber, attempted to argue that DeFeo was insane at the time of the murders, driven to kill by demonic voices in his head.
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This defense, while dramatic, was met with skepticism.
The prosecution pointed out that DeFeo’s actions, including his attempts to dispose of the evidence and create an alibi, indicated a clear awareness of his actions and their implications.
The Conviction and Life Sentence
Despite the defense’s efforts, the jury found DeFeo guilty of six counts of second-degree murder in November 1975.
He was subsequently sentenced to six consecutive life sentences. The verdict marked a grim end to a tragic chapter in the history of Amityville.
However, the Amityville Horror house was far from fading into obscurity.
In the wake of the trial, the house was sold to George and Kathleen Lutz, who would soon catapult the Amityville Horror house back into the national spotlight with their claims of paranormal activity.
The house, and the horrifying events that transpired within its walls, would continue to captivate the public’s imagination, becoming a symbol of the intersection between true crime and the supernatural.
The Warrens’ Investigation
Ed and Lorraine Warren were no strangers to the world of the supernatural.
Ed, a self-proclaimed demonologist, and Lorraine, a clairvoyant and medium, had been investigating paranormal phenomena since the early 1950s.
They founded the New England Society for Psychic Research, the oldest ghost-hunting group in New England, and their investigations have taken them to haunted locations across the globe.
Their cases have inspired numerous books and films, most notably the Conjuring series, solidifying their status as some of the most recognized figures in paranormal research.
Investigation of the Amityville Horror House
In the wake of the DeFeo murders and the subsequent claims of the Lutz family, the Amityville Horror house had garnered a reputation for being one of the most haunted houses in America.
Intrigued by the case, the Warrens decided to conduct their own investigation in 1976.
Accompanied by a crew from a local TV station and several reporters, the Warrens spent several hours in the house, using various techniques and ghost-hunting equipment to detect any signs of paranormal activity.
Alleged Paranormal Phenomena
Before the Warrens’ investigation, the Lutz family, who had moved into the Amityville Horror house a year after the DeFeo murders, claimed to have experienced a series of terrifying poltergeist events.
George and Kathleen Lutz reported witnessing objects levitating, slime oozing from the walls, and swarms of flies despite it being winter. They also claimed to have seen a demonic creature with glowing red eyes.
The most disturbing claim, however, was that George Lutz had started to transform into a likeness of Ronald DeFeo Jr., the murderer of the DeFeo family.
After a mere 28 days, the Lutz family fled the house, leaving their belongings behind.
The Warrens’ Findings and Testimony
During their investigation, the Warrens claimed to have encountered a powerful malevolent force.
Lorraine, who conducted a séance in the house, said she felt a dark presence and was overwhelmed by a sense of dread.
Ed reported feeling a drop in temperature and captured what he believed to be the image of a ghostly boy peering from a room on an infrared camera.
The Warrens concluded that malevolent spirits occupied the house and that the land upon which the house was built was cursed. They believed that this curse resulted from the tragic events and the subsequent paranormal activity.
Their findings, however, were met with skepticism and controversy, with critics accusing them of sensationalism and fabrication.
Despite the criticism, the Warrens stood by their claims, and the Amityville Horror house remains one of their most famous cases.
The house, with its dark history and alleged hauntings, continues to fascinate and terrify, a chilling testament to the enduring allure of the supernatural.
The Aftermath and Controversies
Ronald DeFeo Jr.’s Life in Prison
Following his conviction, Ronald DeFeo Jr. was sent to Green Haven Correctional Facility in Beekman, New York, where he would spend the rest of his life.
Over the years, DeFeo’s account of the events of November 13, 1974, changed multiple times.
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At one point, he claimed his sister Dawn had killed their father and then their distraught mother had killed all his siblings before he killed her. At another time, he suggested that a mob hitman, along with his sister Dawn, had committed the murders.
These inconsistent stories further muddied the waters of the already complex Amityville case.
The Fate of the Amityville Horror House
The Amityville Horror house has changed hands several times since the Lutz family fled in 1976.
Each new owner has reported no supernatural disturbances, leading many to question the validity of the Lutz family’s claims.
The house, however, continues to attract attention, with curious onlookers often stopping to take photos.
To discourage this, subsequent owners have altered the house’s appearance and even changed its address.
Skepticism and Criticism of the Warrens’ Findings
The Warrens’ investigation of the Amityville Horror house has been met with considerable skepticism.
Critics have pointed out that the Warrens had a financial incentive to exaggerate or fabricate paranormal activity, as they often sold their stories to publishers and film producers.
Furthermore, no subsequent house occupants have reported any supernatural phenomena, casting doubt on the Warrens’ claims of malevolent spirits and a curse.
The Debate Over the Lutz Family’s Claims
The Lutz family’s claims have also been a source of controversy. Skeptics argue that the family had a motive to fabricate the haunting to escape their mortgage payments.
This theory is supported by the fact that the family left all their belongings in the house, which were later sold at a public auction to cover their debts.
Further fueling skepticism was a claim by William Weber, Ronald DeFeo Jr.’s defense attorney, who stated that he, along with the Lutzes, had fabricated the haunting story “over many bottles of wine.”
The Lutzes, however, maintained the truth of their experiences until their deaths, and the debate over the authenticity of the Amityville Horror continues to this day.
The Amityville Horror house case remains one of the most debated and controversial cases in the annals of paranormal investigation.
The blend of true crime and alleged supernatural phenomena has resulted in a story that continues to captivate and intrigue, a testament to the enduring allure of the unexplained.
The Amityville Horror in Popular Culture
The Impact and Reception of the Amityville Horror Book
The Amityville Horror story first reached a national audience with the publication of Jay Anson’s book, “The Amityville Horror: A True Story” in 1977.
The book, which was based on a series of interviews with the Lutz family, presented their experiences as a factual account of a haunting. It quickly became a bestseller, captivating readers with its blend of true crime and the supernatural.
Despite the controversy and skepticism surrounding the Lutz family’s claims, the book’s popularity cemented the Amityville Horror House as a cultural horror icon.
The Amityville Horror Movies
The success of Anson’s book led to a film adaptation in 1979, which was also a commercial success.
The film, which starred James Brolin and Margot Kidder as George and Kathy Lutz, further popularized the Amityville Horror story and sparked a series of sequels, prequels, and remakes.
The Amityville Horror films have significantly impacted the horror genre, particularly the subgenre of haunted house films. They have influenced numerous other films and have contributed to the popularity of the “based on a true story” trope in horror cinema.
Despite the ongoing debates about the authenticity of the Amityville Horror story, its influence on popular culture is undeniable.
These adaptations continue to explore and reinterpret the Amityville Horror story, reflecting its enduring fascination and appeal.
The House Today
Today, the Amityville Horror House is a chilling reminder of its gruesome past. Despite changes in ownership and attempts to alter its appearance, the house continues to attract attention.
The current owners, however, report no supernatural disturbances, a stark contrast to the terrifying experiences of the Lutz family.
Ultimately, despite the controversies and skepticism surrounding the case, the story of the Amityville Horror house remains a cultural icon, its influence extending far beyond the confines of the small town of Amityville.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the Amityville Horror House located?
The Amityville Horror House is located in Amityville, a small town on the south shore of Long Island, New York.
Where can I watch Amityville Horror?
The Amityville Horror movies are available on various streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime and Netflix.
Where was Amityville Horror filmed?
The original Amityville Horror movie was filmed in Toms River, New Jersey, not in the actual house in Amityville.
What was the Amityville Horror?
The Amityville Horror refers to the alleged haunting of a house in Amityville, New York, following a gruesome family murder. The story has been the subject of numerous books and films.
Who wrote Amityville Horror?
The book The Amityville Horror: A True Story was written by Jay Anson.
What happened at the Amityville Horror House?
The Amityville Horror house was the site of the DeFeo family murders in 1974. The subsequent owners, the Lutz family, claimed to experience a series of terrifying paranormal events.
Who lives in the Amityville Horror house now?
The current owners of the Amityville Horror house prefer to remain anonymous and report no supernatural disturbances.
When did the Amityville Horror happen?
The DeFeo family murders occurred on November 13, 1974. The alleged haunting experienced by the Lutz family happened in December 1975.
Were the paranormal experiences in the Amityville Horror house real?
The paranormal experiences reported by the Lutz family have been the subject of intense debate and skepticism. While some believe their claims, others argue that the haunting was a hoax.
Who were the people involved in the Amityville Horror haunting case?
The key figures in the Amityville Horror case were Ronald DeFeo Jr., who murdered his family in the house, the Lutz family, who claimed to experience a haunting, and Ed and Lorraine Warren, who investigated the alleged paranormal activity.
Are there any documented evidence or photographs of the haunting?
While the Warrens claimed to have captured evidence of the haunting, including a photograph of a ghostly boy, these findings have been met with skepticism.
Did the Lutz family fabricate the Amityville Horror story for publicity?
This is a subject of controversy. Some believe the Lutz family fabricated the haunting to escape their mortgage payments or gain publicity, while others believe their claims were genuine.
The Lutz family maintained the truth of their experiences until their deaths. The debate over the authenticity of the Amityville Horror continues to this day.