Amityville is located in Babylon Township just outside of New York City. It’s a quaint town most years, except 1974.
Ronnie DeFeo – –
Citizens turned their attentions to Ocean Avenue in November of 1974 when most of the DeFeo family was found dead inside their Amityville home. All but one… 23 year old Ronald DeFeo Jr.
Telling the police he escaped, running to Henry’s Bar, bursting in and yelling “Help me! My mother and father are shot!”
Ronnie led a group of men to the house to see the family lying face down, peacefully in their beds.
Ronnie was arrested to ensure his safety from the murderer.
He told them it was a mob hit, a killer named Louis Falini. Ronald Sr owed him money.
The police believed it all, until an investigation and evidence revealed Ronnie was a liar. Questioned DeFeo again and he cracked. Confessed, “It all started so fast… “I couldn’t stop…” “it was so fast.”
They asked him why he clothes were so clean. He took a bath, redressed and tossed the blood outfit.
Ronnie displayed signs of a methodical and calm killer, willing to bath in the Amityville house while his family lies dead in their rooms.
The Trial – –
Lawyer William Weber stood for DeFeo with a plea of insanity.
Ronnie said voices inside the Amityville house talked to him, told him to murder his family. Prosecution argued back, saying Ronnie was sane and drugs made him kill.
Then secrets about the DeFeo family were exposed…
- Ronald Sr. had a violent temper directed at his wife Louise and Ronnie
- Ronnie was a weak child, but later stood up and fought his father
- Arguments escalated to violence
Ronnie’s temper was blamed for all the Defeo’s problems inside the Amityville house.
They sent him to a psychiatrist, but he rejected help. Ronald Sr and Louise tried to buy him off with money and gifts, including a $14,000 speedboat (famously parked in the river behind the Amityville house).
Unlimited access to money leads Ronnie to drugs and by 17 he was addicted to heroin. His anger grew.
On one random day, Ronnie pointed a loaded rifle at a friend while on a hunting trip. The friend ran and Ronnie chased, cornered the kid, confused and smiling he asked “Why did you run?”
On another random day, he broke up a fight between his parents in the house. Ronnie leveled a shotgun at his father’s face and yelled, “I’m going to kill you… you fat fuck!”
He pulled the trigger. The gun misfired and no one was hurt.
Then just weeks before the murders, Ronnie robbed a local Amityville car dealership.
When confronted by his parents, he denied it. Ronald Sr didn’t believe him, hounding his son to confess, pushing him hard. Maybe too hard.
Dark History makes scary Ghosts
The murders – –
They say Ronnie was calm, walking from room to room inside the Amityville house and firing round after round.
First his parents, twice into each to make sure they were dead. Then his brothers, Mark and John, one shot each. Into his sister’s room and first shooting the youngest Allison, then turning to Dawn.
Dawn was awake. They say he walked over, pressed the barrel against her face and pulled the trigger.
The family dog, Shaggy, survived. Tied up in the back yard, he’d bark at the gunshots and woke the sleepy Amityville residents.
His barking remains the only evidence outside the Amityville house to prove what happened inside.
An easy verdict for the jury; guilty on all six counts of “second degree murder”.
Ronnie DeFeo is still alive today. He’s being held at Sullivan Facility in Fallsburg, NY.
And to this day, mysteries still remain.
Nobody heard the gun – –
The Marlin rifle Ronnie used was loud. The night-time neighbourhood was silent and no one heard the shots.
They heard Shaggy barking outside. This would have been much quieter than the blasts ringing out from inside the Amityville home.
Dawn was the only one to move – –
Ronald Sr, Louise, Mark, John, and Allison were found lying face down in their beds.
They were sleeping when Ronnie came in. Meaning the brothers and sister didn’t wake after ear-splitting rifle blasts from the parent’s room just down the Amityville house second floor hall.
No evidence of drugging was found and the bodies were not moved.
Impossible to sleep through such noise inside the quiet Amityville house, but they did.
Ghostly? Maybe not because some suggest two murderers.
After interviewing Ronnie, author Ric Osuna was told about sister Dawn.
Ronnie said she helped. Evidence supports this because gunpowder residue was found on Dawn’s night shirt. She may have fired a gun, proving Ronnie’s story.
He told Ric that Dawn killed their parents while he killed the brothers and Allison.
But then Ronnie kept talking, telling Ric that Dawn and her friend did all the killing… “Then I killed her… to stop her”. Said he wrested the gun away and shot her in the head but Dawn’s friend got away.
Ronnie changed his story again and again over the years, eventually denying even talking to Ric Osuna about Dawn.
Ocean Avenue in Amityville wouldn’t have been the Lutz’s first choice. The ritzy neighbourhood was out of their price range. Lucky for them recent events brought down the value of one house.
Only one year after the murders, the Lutz’s moved into the DeFeo’s old Amityville house with their 3 kids even though George was hesitant. Practicing Catholic George brought in a priest.
Father Ray felt something was wrong. Felt uneasy while in the Amityville home in an upstairs bedroom. He told George the room was okay, but “nobody should sleep in it”.
They made it the sewing room.
Living in the Amityville house – –
The first few days were calm. Random cold spots felt but reasoned away as leaks in an old house.
Then the “deadness of sound” happened.
An unnatural quiet inside rooms upstairs in the Amityville house. Complete silence and no sound from the street. George tested it while standing in the sunroom. He looked out to Ocean Avenue below, watching car after car drive by with deafening silence.
Ironically, sounds would terrify the family when George was plagued by late night noises.
In the dead of night, the front would slam shut, then heavy footsteps climbing up the stairs. He also heard what George Lutz described as “a band tuning their instruments” all while his family slept.
When disturbingly loud inside the Amityville house, George ran downstairs to see just the dog sleeping in his bed.
Kathy was affected when George noticed her face. She was aging as if lifelong stress over many years happened in minutes. Even Kathy’s shocked mother saw it.
Kathy was also followed around in the Amityville house. She felt arms wrapping around her waist from behind and smelled perfume, “like what an old lady would wear”.
It escalated quickly and sleep inside the Amityville house became a luxury.
George and Kathy were depressed and the kids noticed.
That’s when the violence started.
George is going insane – –
George Lutz started having foreign thoughts inside the Amityville house. They play out like movies in his head.
He refused talk about it. The images crazy, filled with blood, murder as anger boiled up, like Ronnie.
Desperate, George consulted a priest who told him to leave the Amityville house for one night, so he could sleep. Instead he sent the kids and Kathy to her mother’s house.
The night was restful because according to George, “the presence followed my family”.
The return of William Weber – –
The Lutz’s called William Weber, Ronnie DeFeo’s trial attorney.
They wanted the real story. To find out what happened in the Amityville house before the murders. Did Ronnie had violent dreams too?
They loved the house and wanted to stay.
Some believe the Amityville Horror “hoax” started here with George, Kathy and William getting drunk and making up stories.
Weber brought in a man he called “a criminologist”. But Paul Hoffman was actually a journalist for Good Housekeeping Magazine. He would soon publish an article on the ghosts of the Amityville house.
George and Kathy ran with it – –
The Lutz’s didn’t want “fake psychics” claiming their story, or getting it all wrong. They knew the article was popular.
Then a publisher was hired. They brought in author Jay Anson.
“The Amityville Horror” was published on Tuesday September 13, 1977, just 3 years after the DeFeo murders. The truth has been questioned since.
In 1979, the first movie was made just 5 years after the murders.
George and Kathy were part of the promotion. To his credit, George spoke out against Hollywood’s interpretation and stuck to his family’s experiences inside the Amityville house.
But the main question hung over them all, was it all faked or is the Amityville house actually evil?
From the first moment George lived in the Amityville house he told friends about “strange emotions”. They are the ones to recommend Father Ray.
The priest felt strange in what became the sewing room, saying it was unnaturally cold. As he blessed corners, a feeling of unbearable dread and a deep voice in his ear saying “Get out!” before being slapped across the face.
Father Ray ran down the stairs; imparted his final advice of not sleeping in the room and left.
Soon after the priest claimed blisters formed on his hands, but said it was just anxiety.
- Scratching on the walls and footsteps on the second floor –
Kathy heard both after moving in. The media confirmed Ronnie DeFeo heard the same noise just before he killed them.
- Louise DeFeo warned Kathy –
When Kathy was embraced from behind, she smelled “cheap perfume”. The hug wasn’t aggressive, but motherly, comforting. She believed it was Louise trying to protect her.
- Music and Marching on the first floor –
The Lutz’s experienced the nightly noises differently. George said, “like musicians tuning and playing songs”. Others heard just the heavy footsteps.
- Flies –
The iconic scene from the movies. It’s true that flies appeared in the house, in the winter and mostly in the sewing room. Father Ray being attacked by flies never happened.
- Bleeding Walls –
Nope. Originated from an innocent story of green stuff found in the playroom. Probably just disgusting kid stuff. The book said green slime pooling on the carpets, and the movie transformed it to blood.
- Kathy becomes an ugly old woman –
George woke Kathy one night and she saw revulsion on his face. He told her, “you look like an old woman”. A little upset until running to the bathroom mirror and seeing it, wrinkles and haggard face. Took hours to go away.
- George woke up at 3am each night –
It’s the time Ronnie murdered his family, the natural witching hour. George constantly woke up at 3am with feelings of dread. Sometimes checking on the kids.
- Jodie the Pig makes herself known –
Jodie, according to daughter Missy Lutz, was an angel appearing as a pig. George admitted seeing Jodie outside the living room window at night, two red eyes staring in.
- The Levitation of Kathy Lutz –
Kathy levitated one night while sleeping next to George. He woke to her floating above the bed and towards the wall. He grabbed and pulled her down, crashing into the bed, she woke to George’s terrified face.
Ed and Lorraine Warren are most known for Amityville.
In 1976, just 2 years after the murders the famed demonologists entered the Amityville house with a TV crew.
They were supportive of George and Kathy, agreeing something must be in this house. They believed the ghost was a demon, or conscious energy to never walk earth as a human.
Here’s what was found during the Amityville investigation by the Warren’s in Feb, 1976…
- Ed saw shadows –
They moved along walls inside the cellar. He’s wasn’t used to seeing ghosts, it was Lorraine’s ability. It shocked him. Ed commanded the spirits to leave but felt something lift him off the ground. Dragged himself down and left the cellar.
- Lorraine was scared to enter the Amityville house –
She dreaded the house long before an investigation was setup. She brought artefacts connected to Padre Pio, the saint of safety which calmed the very religious Lorraine.
- Lorraine felt rushing water –
Coming down from the second floor of the Amityville house, pouring on her and slowing slow her ascent.
- Lorraine knew it was the same furniture –
In Missy’s room, she knew and was angry at George for allowing the kids to “sleep in the death beds”.
- An investigator from Duke University –
Witnessed a session of communication with Lorraine and the ghosts. He passed out, later finding out it was from heart palpitations.
At 1am that same night, Ed and Lorraine demanded the investigation be stopped.
A non-believer – –
After the famed Amityville investigation, a battle of words broke out between the Warrens and Dr Stephen Kaplan. Kaplan was a self-proclaimed authority on the “Hoax of Amityville”.
Ed challenged Kaplan to produce evidence Amityville was a hoax. Kaplan ignored him.
Kaplan later co-authored a book called “The Amityville Horror Conspiracy”.
Many years later during an interview with a Babylon, NY radio station, Kaplan admitted to fabricating one of the hoax rumours. He ended the interview with, “I will never go against the Warrens again”.
A ghost photo taken during the Warren’s investigation is said to be youngest DeFeo son, John Matthew.
The other theory, this is one of the investigators named Paul Bartz. You be the judge!
Lorraine Warren says it all
During a Q & A session, a local paranormal investigator stood up and asked, “Would you ever return to Amityville?”
Lorraine whispered, “No!”
She dreaded the idea of encountering what was in the house again, vividly remembering her pain.
“The media wanted Ed and I to go back, to do a documentary. I refused, told Ed we could never, not again! I’ll never go back there. That house affected our lives more than any other case. It tried to kill us.”