112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York
This address will forever be known as America’s most haunted house.
The Amityville Massacre
In the shocking event that took place on the night of November 13, 1974, a family of seven was suddenly reduced to one surviving member, the one who committed the crime.
Ronald DeFeo Jr, a 23-year-old man, took the lives of Ronald DeFeo Sr., his mother Louise, and his four younger siblings, all in cold blood.
Before the night of the massacre, the DeFeo household was not particularly happy. Their father, Ronald DeFeo, Sr., was noted to have been a hostile, overbearing, and abusive figure to his children.
Many believed this major factor made Ronald Jr. grow into an unstable and troubled adult.
Ronald Jr. secured employment in an auto body shop where his father, Ronald Sr., also worked, but Butch spent more time at bars than at the shop.
He eventually became addicted to alcohol and drugs and was noted to have demonstrated violent behavior toward his family at times. There was an incident where Butch was noted to have threatened his father, Ronald Sr., with a gun.
In the early hours of November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr., with a .35 caliber rifle, went from room to murdering his family members while they were asleep.
One of the most surprising things about this bizarre incident was that, even though Ronald Jr. carried out the murder of the DeFeo family in an estimated 15 minutes, the way their bodies were found showed no sign of struggle.
Their bodies were found lying face down on the bed, as though the sounds of the gunshots had not woken up any of the family members or prompted them to escape.
It was as if they had not even moved from their beds. More surprisingly, the rifle had no silencer, and none of the neighbors reported hearing even a single gunshot that fateful night, apart from the occasional sounds of the DeFeo family dog barking, which made the situation all the more bizarre. Also, no sedatives were found in their bodies upon examining them after their death.
After murdering his family, Butch took a bath, got dressed, and went to work before eventually reporting the murder. He initially claimed that he discovered a horrible scene after arriving from work.
He even claimed that the murder was the work of a mafia gang, who showed up at his house earlier that day. The police, however, found inconsistencies in his testimonies and were suspicious of him.
Ronald Jr eventually gave in to pressure and admitted to committing the murders all by himself, and he even showed the cops where he stashed the evidence of his crime, including the rifle and his blood-stained clothes. During his confession, he was noted to have said,
“Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. It went so fast.”
Later, Ronald Jr strongly claimed that he was possessed and heard certain paranormal voices, which influenced him to commit the murders.
The prosecutors argued against his claims and maintained that Ronald was a frequent drug user. While psychiatrists had diagnosed him with antisocial personality disorder, they asserted that he was fully aware of his actions.
Which led to the conclusion that Ronnie probably felt he’d had enough and calmly climbed out of bed on that fateful night, grabbed his rifle, and, one by one, made his way into his family members’ bedroom and shot each one point blank while they lay asleep.
Ronald DeFeo Jr. was convicted by a Jury of six counts of murder and sentenced to six consecutive life terms of 25 years. He was still serving at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in New York until his death on March 12, 2021.
A Haunted House
Thirteen months after the gruesome mass murder of the DeFeo family, the DeFeo’s former residence became a new home for Lutz, a young couple, and their three children.
George and Cathy Lutz were seemingly unaware of the brutal massacre that occurred in the house before their purchase, but despite being informed of its gruesome past, fell in love with the large, attractive, Dutch colonial-style house, with six bedrooms, a large swimming pool, and a boat house, and purchased it for a bargain price of $80,000.
Unfortunately, however, this dream home soon became a place of nightmares.
George and Kathy had asked a priest to bless the place before moving in to remove any residual evil energy that might still be lurking around the house.
Still, the shocking paranormal events that followed after they moved in would eventually be known worldwide through the author Jay Anson who wrote and captured the ordeal of the Lutz family in this house in his infamous book titled “The Amityville Horror.”
After moving into the house, George strangely found himself waking up at 3:15 am every night, which was exactly around the same time the DeFeo massacre was reported to have occurred, and he could not go back to sleep.
George was a vibrant businessman, but after moving into the Amityville house developed a sudden personality change and became cranky, sluggard, and distraught.
One night, George said he saw his five-year-old daughter, Missy, standing by her bedroom window with the outline of a pig’s face with red eyes behind her. He quickly rushed into her room, only to find Missy sound asleep.
Around the same time, Missy started to speak of a mysterious newfound friend she was playing with, a pig with green eyes called Jodi. In another frightening episode, George looked down on Cathy, his wife, while she was sleeping and saw that her face had changed and somehow aged into that of a 90-year-old woman and lifted off the bed about 3 inches.
Cathy also joined in the frenzy and started dreaming about the murders that happened. Somehow she knew who slept in each room and in what order DeFeo had shot them.
Cathy said she would go through periods when she felt she was aging unnaturally fast and didn’t feel like herself but another person entirely. This was reportedly also witnessed by her mother.
Other strange events continued to unfold, such as doors ripped off from their hinges, a room full of flies in the middle of winter, cloven hoof prints noticeable on the snow right outside their doors, and a slimy green substance oozing from the ceiling walls, and keyholes.
Parts of the house would turn ice cold despite a functioning heater. And they saw demon faces around the fireplace and doors slammed shut by themselves on many occasions.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Lutz discovered a secret basement that was not initially on the house’s original blueprint. This strange room was painted blood red and was only big enough for two people.
It also gave off an intermittently bad odor. George even attempted to make their family dog go into the room the dog would not. George said:
“it is the only time I can recall him ever cowering away from something.”
One night, George heard the sound of a band playing music downstairs and went down to investigate. When he got there, however, he found no one there. Even though nobody was there, the rug had somehow been rolled up, and their furniture moved as if someone had made space for dancing.
On January 14, 1976, just 28 days after moving into their new home, a particularly frightening night resulted in the Lutz family packing their bags and deserting their house, never to return.
They left behind the rest of their belongings, including their clothes, in the lockers and food in the fridge.
The Amityville Horror: Fact or Fiction?
George and Kathy Lutz shared the details of the chilling experience that they had home through from living in the Amityville house with Jay Anson, Who turned their true life story into an instant best seller in 1977.
Jay Anson said that the priest’s corroboration of Lutz’s story was the final straw that solidified his decision to begin writing the book.
Father Ralph Pecoraro recounted that when the Lutz’ invited him over to the house while sprinkling holy water, he heard a rather deep voice behind him saying, “Get out.”
He said the voice felt so directed towards him, leaving him quite startled. He also said he felt a slap on his face at one point.
George and Kathy claimed at one point that the demons had followed them to their newfound home but didn’t talk much about it to the press as they were just about at the point of breakdown.
However, since the massacre, Ronald DeFeo Jr. changed his story several times over the years, making people unsure if it was indeed demons or if the crime involved an outsider.
Even though many people claimed the Amityville horror was a huge hoax, George and Kathy both took lie detector tests from some of America’s top polygraph examiners, and they both passed.
When the author of “The Amityville Horror” was asked if he had experienced any strange or paranormal phenomena while writing the book, he said he didn’t. Though he noted that he had a heart attack while writing the book. But he felt it was unrelated to the book and attributed it to his frequent smoking.
Anson did, however, say that some of the people who had read or had copies of the original manuscript in their possession had strange things happen to them.
One of them had a fire breakout in his car while he took the manuscript to the publisher. Another friend almost drowned in their car while the manuscript was in its trunk.
Another person whom Anson had given the first two chapters of the manuscript to read died in a fire incident the night she received them. Anson claimed that the manuscript was found intact in the remains of the fire.
Apart from the claims of Ronald DeFeo Jr. about hearing voices that led him to kill his entire family in 1974, and the paranormal phenomena experienced by the Lutz family in 1975, there have been no other accounts or stories of haunting in the Ocean avenue house.
James Cromarty bought the house shortly after the Lutz left in 1977 and lived happily with his wife there for over a decade.
James said nothing weird ever happened while he was at the house. However, he noted that living there was a bit annoying as many ‘tourists’ kept visiting the place on a horror sightseeing pilgrimage.
Four different owners have reportedly owned the house since the events of 1974. The house was sold for $605,000 in 2017, much less than its market value.
Lots of movies have also been made based on the Amityville horror. There have been 10 “Amityville” horror movies out in 2022 alone. However, some of the movies have been known to deviate slightly from the original story to add to the terror of the tale.
Whether the Lutz family was lying or experiencing a case of mass hysteria, or the demons got bored after the Lutz fled the house, we might never really know.