Amityville, NY

The Real Amityville Horror House

Sam H Arnold

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The Amityville HousePublic Domain

The Amityville Horror has been a popular horror film for many generations. Children like to scare each other into watching it; however, not everyone knows that the horror is based on two real-life experiences. The incidents happened to two separate families. The house which is the lead character in the film has been renovated considerably from the one we see on the screen. Many of the external shots for the film, being shot at the actual location. The Amityville Horror house is now known simply as 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville.

The De Feo Murders

On 13th November 1974, the house became a notorious crime scene. Ronald De Feo Jnr killed his parents and four siblings in their sleep with a rifle. He claimed later that the voices made him do it, a statement he has since retracted.

Ronald was the oldest son to an abusive father and a passive mother. His family were considered well to do and deeply religious. His father worked at a car dealership in Brooklyn, where his son also worked. Their relationship was said to be strained. Ronald Jnr had a history of substance abuse. He liked to drink, take drugs and get into fights.

On the 13th, he killed his father first with a rifle before turning the gun on his mother, two brothers and two sisters. After killing them, he went to work for the day, leaving them in the house. All six of the victims were found in their beds at the family home. Coming home from work, he walked to the local bar and reported that his parents had been shot. A small group from the bar went to 112 Ocean Avenue and found the family dead. The police arrived at 630 pm, discovering all had been killed with a 35 calibre rifle at 3 am. Initially, the incident looked like a mob hit, and Ronald Jnr was placed into police custody at the local station for his safety.

The police started to interview him, trying to ascertain if he knew anything to help catch the assassin. That is when they noticed inconsistencies with his story, including changing his alibi several times. They also discovered an empty shell box in his room. The next day he confessed to the killing. The fact the family were face down led prosecutors to wonder whether they had been drugged before being shot. The autopsy did not support this.

Ronald Jnr went on trial on 14th October 1975, where he stated that the voices made him do it. The media considered that he was trying to provide evidence for an insanity plea. The trial took six weeks where he was convicted. He was convicted of six counts of 2nd-degree murder and sentenced to twenty-five years to life. In 1992, he stated that claiming to hear voices had been his defence lawyers idea and not his own.He passed away in 2021, still in custody.

The Lutz Family

Having moved into the house in December 1975, after the murders, the Lutz family claimed to endure paranormal terror whilst living there. The Lutz family consisted of Kathy and her three children along with her new husband, George. It is primarily their account that inspired the Amityville film. The families experiences were so terrifying that they moved out of the house only twenty-eight days later. They reported incidents such as foul smells and even one incident of Kathy levitating out of bed. Kathy stated that she would see glowing red eyes and have nightmares about the murders.

George reported that he would be woken at 315 am, the time of the murder, to strange noises. At the time, two of the children spoke about an imaginary friend they played with. The pair described the same friend, which was inconsistent with ordinary childhood imagination. A Priest who visited the house at the time described someone telling him to ‘get out.’ The line has since been used several times in adaptations of the story.

Danny Lutz, who was ten when he moved into the house, has spoken about the incidents recently; he believes they were possessed as a family. He claims that the experience ruined his life, as not only did the family suffer these hauntings, but they then suffered many people calling them a liar and trying to discredit them.

I was possessed by a spirit I couldn’t get rid of on my own. I just wanted somebody to believe me. It has been in my dreams my whole life. — Danny Lutz

The Amityville Horror

Although some of these stories may seem that of fiction, several facts remain strange surrounding the house. The first is that no one in the area reported hearing the gunshots when Ronald Jnr shot his family, despite it being 3 am and him using a rifle.

The Lutz family had no history of being scam artists or liars; they were, in fact, owners of a multi-generational family business. They did not need money by making up stories of paranormal activity. When they fled from the house with just the clothes on their back, they never returned — selling the house a short while later at a financial loss. They also sold all the furniture, not wanting any of it around them again. Several other families who have lived in the house after the Lutz family have reported paranormal activity there.

Another fact that fascinates me is that no producer or writer has copyrighted the Amityville franchise. As the events happened in a real town, they are considered historical events so can not be copyrighted. Anyone is free to sell merchandise and write stories around these events.

Whether the evil possessed Ronald Jnr in the house or whether he was evil is widely debated. However, whether you believe the tales or not, it is a story that has captured the imagination and interest of many, first through a book and then through subsequent film releases. At the time of release in 1979, The Amityville Horror was the most successful independent movie in history, grossing a massive $86 million. Personally it will always remain one of my favourite films, especially over Halloween.

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Writer of fact and fiction writing on the following - True Crime | History | Parenting | Mental Health For all my crime articles subscribe to my newsletter - https://crimeblog.substack.com

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