Amityville House located in Amityville, New York, USA | Addresses – 412 Ocean Ave – MAP
The Real Amityville Horror
Amityville is a town in Babylon Township, just outside New York City. In most years it’s quite and calm.
That all changed in 1974 with a young man named Ronnie DeFeo
Citizens focused on Ocean Avenue in November of 1974. This is when the DeFeo family was found dead inside their home. All but one… 23 year old Ronald DeFeo Jr, called Ronnie.
Ronnie DeFeo – –
Told people he escaped, running to Henry’s Bar in town. Bursting in and yelling “Help me! My mother and father are shot!”
A group of men gathered. Ronnie led them to the house. The Defeo’s were lying peacefully face down in their beds.
One of the men called the police and after an initial investigation, they arrested Ronnie. Not because they thought him guilty. It was to protect him from an unknown killer.
The reason… Ronnie told them the murders were a mob hit. That his father owed them money. Giving the name of an assassin named Louis Falini.
In the moment, the police believed it. Then an investigation was done. Evidence revealed Ronnie was a liar. No sign of forced entry or any evidence of a stranger in the house. Plus Falini had an alibi.
They questioned Ronnie again and he cracked. Telling officers, “It all started so fast… “I couldn’t stop…” “it was just so fast.”
They asked him why his clothes were clean. He didn’t answer. However, the belief is he took a bath, redress and dump the bloody clothes. Later the police said to reporters, Ronnie displayed characteristics of a methodical and calm killer. Quoted, “Who else could take a bath while his family lay dead in their rooms only feet away.”
The Trial – –
The trial began. Enter a lawyer named William Weber who stood for DeFeo. Entered a plea of insanity.
Ronnie told police he heard voices inside the house. Saying, “They talked to me. Told me to kill them all.”
The prosecution argued back. Said Ronnie was completely sane. Blaming the murders on drugs, and anger towards his father.
More secrets came out. Such as Ronald Sr. having a violent temper. Taking it out on his wife Louise and of course Ronnie.
Ronnie was known as a weak child. Showing his own anger through arguments that escalated to physical violence.
The family blamed Ronnie’s temper for all their problems. Thinking if only they could fix the boy, everything would be fine. Ronald sent his son to a psychiatrist, but Ronnie rejected the doctor’s help.
They tried buying him off with money and gifts, including a $14,000 speedboat. The same iconic boat docked at the backyard river shown in the movies.
Unlimited access to money didn’t help him. Instead gave him access to drugs. By only 17 he was addicted to heroin. His anger got worse.
The prosecution brought up two occurrences. First when on a hunting trip, Ronnie pointed a loaded rifle at his friend. The friend ran and Ronnie chased. Caught and cornered the kid like an animal. Then acting all confused, smiling Ronnie asked “Why did you run?”
While in the house just after breaking up a fight between his parents. Ronnie leveled a loaded shotgun at his father’s face and yelled, “I’m going to kill you… you fat fuck!” He pulled the trigger and it misfired.
We’d learn only weeks before the murders Ronnie robbed a local car dealership. His parents confronted him. He denied it. Ronald didn’t believe his son. Hounded Ronnie, pushing hard, maybe too hard.
The murders – –
They say Ronnie was quiet and clam. Walking from room to room, firing round after round into each one.
First his parents. Two shots each to make sure they were dead. Then brothers Mark and John, one shot each. Walking into his sister’s room and shooting the youngest Allison, then turning to Dawn.
But Dawn was awake. Evidence shows he walked up to her, pressed the barrel against her face and pulled the trigger.
Shaggy, the family dog, survived. Was tied up in the back yard. It was his barks that woke the sleeping neighborhood. The barks remain the only outside evidence of what happened inside.
An easy verdict for the jury. They found him guilty on all six counts of “second degree murder”.
Ronnie DeFeo is still alive today. Currently held at the Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, NY, just a 2 hour drive from Amityville.
And I completely agree. If on that jury, guaranteed I’d return the same verdict. Even if I knew the remaining mysteries. Even if it doesn’t make any sense.
Nobody heard the gun – –
Like the Marlin rifle Ronnie used to kill. That model is very loud. The neighborhood was quiet, it’s the middle of the night, yet no one heard the gunshots other than Shaggy.
Dawn was the only one to move – –
Ronald Sr, Louise, Mark, John, and Allison were all discovered lying face down in their beds.
Believed to be sleeping when Ronnie entered. This means the brothers and his sister didn’t wake up after 4 ear-splitting rifle blasts from the parent’s bedroom. All on the same floor just feet away.
And there was no evidence of drugging. As well the bodies had not been touched. Gun shots loud enough to hurt your eardrums. It’s impossible to sleep through, but they did.
Think it’s ghostly? Maybe… if you ignore one theory. Ronnie didn’t act alone!
LITTLE KNOWN :: Dawn may have been an accomplice
During an interview Ronnie told author Ric Osuna about Dawn. Saying, “She helped me”.
The evidence supports it. They found gunpowder residue on Dawn’s night shirt. Showing she may have fired a gun and proving Ronnie’s new story.
He told Ric in detail that Dawn killed Ronald Sr and Louise while he killed the brothers and Allison. Also solving the mystery of why the brothers didn’t wake up after their parents were shot. It all happened at the same time.
But then Ronnie kept talking. Telling Ric, Dawn and her friend did all the killing… saying, “Then I killed her… to stop her”. And, “I wrested the gun away and shot her in the head”. When asked about the mysterious friend, Ronnie simply said, “She ran away”.
Many times Ronnie changed that story. Later denying he talked to Ric at all.
George and Kathy Lutz
The “murder house” in Amityville wouldn’t have been the Lutz’s first choice. The ritzy neighborhood was normally out of their price range. Past events bringing down the price of a beautiful home. Just one year after the murders George and Kathy Lutz moved in with their 3 kids.
George was hesitant. The practicing Catholic brought in his family’s priest.
Father Ray immediately knew something was wrong. He felt uncomfortable inside the house. Especially in an upstairs bedroom. Telling George, “Nobody should sleep in that room”. They listened, making it a sewing room.
Living in the Amityville house – –
First few days were calm. Random cold spots felt but reasoned away as leaks in an old house.
Then, what they called “deadness of sound”. Said to be an unnatural quiet upstairs. Complete silence with no sound from outside. George tested it while standing in the upstairs sunroom. Looking out to Ocean Avenue below. Car after car drove by with deafening silence.
This silence was ironic because it was sound that terrified the Lutz’s. Late night noises plagued George.
Sounded like the front door slamming shut in the dead of night. Hearing heavy footsteps climbing slowly up the stairs.
And another noise he described like “a band tuning their instruments”. All happening while his family slept, as if unable to hear it.
One-night George ran downstairs to confront the noise, finding only silence and their sleeping dog.
CREEPY FACT :: Kathy’s old face
His wife Kathy was affected too. One-night George noticed her face. Said she was aging right before his eyes. Not something a woman wants to hear from her husband. But even Kathy’s mother saw it.
And something followed Kathy around in the house. At times feeling arms wrap around her waist from behind. Other times smelling perfume. Said it was like “what an old lady would wear”.
It all escalated and sleep inside the house was next to impossible for George and Kathy. The kids noticed their parent’s stress.
That’s when it turned to violence.
George is going insane – –
George started having what he called, “foreign thoughts”. They played out like movies in his head. Crazy images filled with blood and murder, each thought making him angrier.
A now desperate George sought out the help of a priest who told him to leave the house for one night. To test it. See if it’s the house, and also for a good night’s sleep.
He didn’t listen, instead sending Kathy and the kids to her mother’s house. That night was restful because, according to George, “the presence followed my family”.
The return of William Weber – –
The Lutz’s called a man named William Weber. Remember him, Ronnie DeFeo’s attorney. They wanted details about what happened to Ronnie just before killing his family. Did the boy have violent dreams too?
Reason… they loved the house and wanted to stay.
INTERESTING NOTE :: The Hoax
Skeptics believe this is where the Amityville “Hoax” began. George, Kathy and Weber getting drunk and making up stories.
Later it got out about Weber’s “criminologist”. Said the man was brought in to help. Later finding out this man was Paul Hoffman, a journalist for Good Housekeeping Magazine. Paul published the article that started the legend.
George and Kathy ran with it – –
The article was popular. The Lutz’s quoted that they didn’t want “fake psychics” claiming their story and getting it wrong. A local publisher sent an author named Jay Anson.
His book was called “The Amityville Horror”, published on Tuesday September 13, 1977. Only 3 years after the murders.
The first movie was made in 1979. George and Kathy were part of the promotion.
To his credit, George spoke out against Hollywood’s interpretation. Stuck to his family’s experiences. But the main question hung over them all. Was it fake, or is the Amityville house evil?
The Ghosts of Amityville
From the moment George lived at Amityville he told his friends about “strange emotions”. They were the ones to recommend Father Ray.
As you remember, the priest felt strange in what became the sewing room. Said it was unnaturally cold and felt an unbearable dread while blessing the corners. Then a deep voice telling the priest to “Get out!” followed by a slap across his face.
Father Ray was disturbed when walking past George. Stopping only to say, “Don’t sleep in that room” and heading out the front door.
When interviewed, the priest said blisters formed on his hands. Clearly stating it was not ghostly. “Just my anxiety.”
Scratching on the walls and footsteps on the second floor –
As well Kathy heard scratching just after moving in. Investigators later confirmed Ronnie DeFeo heard the same noise just before killing his family.
- Louise DeFeo warned Kathy –
And remember when the ghost embraced Kathy from behind. She smelled the perfume. This was accompanied by a motherly feeling and comfort.
Kathy believed it was Louise Defeo trying to protect her.
- Music and Marching on the first floor –
I mentioned George hearing strange noises. Later all the Lutz’s would report different noises, manly at night. George saying the musicians tuning and playing songs. Others heard the heavy footsteps.
- Flies –
And the flies. An iconic scene from the movies.
It is true flies appeared in the house during the winter. The majority in what became the sewing room.
What’s not true… the bugs attacking Father Ray.
- Bleeding Walls –
The legend of the bleeding walls. Of course, this is fake.
Said to originate from an innocent story of green stuff found on the floor in the playroom. Probably just disgusting kid stuff.
The book said it was green slime pooling on the carpet. The movie turned it into blood.
- Kathy becomes an ugly old woman –
Plus Kathy’s face, and the first time it happened George woke Kathy in the middle of the night. She saw disgust on his face.
He did say, “you look like an old woman”. Upset, Kathy ran into the bathroom. Looking in the mirror she saw it, a wrinkled haggard face looking back. She was back to normal in a couple hours.
- George woke up at 3am each night –
Then there’s the witching hour. 3am. Said to be the time Ronnie murdered his family.
George did constantly wake at 3am with feelings of dread. Sometimes getting up to check on the kids.
- Jodie the Pig makes herself known –
And Jodie, according to daughter Missy Lutz, was an angel appearing as a pig. No one else saw Jodie.
George later admitted seeing something. One night outside the living room window. Described as two glowing red eyes.
- The Levitation of Kathy Lutz –
Kathy levitated one night. While sleeping next to George, he woke to her floating above the bed. Said his wife was moving towards the wall.
He grabbed and pulled her down. Woke by the fall, she saw only George’s terrified face.
Ed & Lorraine Warren of Conjuring fame
Enter Ed and Lorraine Warren. Paranormal experts made internationally famous because of Amityville. That history now overshadowed by the Conjuring movies.
In 1976, 2 years after the murders and 3 years before the first Amityville movie, the famed demonologists arrived with a TV crew.
They supported George and Kathy. Agreed something was in the house. Believing the ghost was a demon, evil and conscious energy that was never human.
Evidence from the Amityville investigation
Listed by the Warren’s in Feb, 1976…
- Ed saw shadows –
While in the cellar, Ed saw a shadow moving along the wall. He never saw ghosts, that was Lorraine’s thing. It shocked him.
Ed commanded the spirits to leave and felt something lift him off the ground. When dropped he left the cellar.
- 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 –
While standing in Missy’s room. She picked it up and was angry at George for allowing the kids to “sleep in the death beds”.
- Lorraine didn’t want to enter Amityville house –
It’s said Lorraine knew about, and dreaded, the house before entering it. Bought artifacts connected to Padre Pio, the saint of safety. This calmed the very religious Lorraine.
An investigator from Duke University witnessed a communication session with her and the ghosts. Something caused him to pass out, finding out later it was heart palpitations.
The investigation was stopped at 1am that night.
A non-believer named Kaplan – –
After the investigation, a battle of words broke out between the Warrens and Dr Stephen Kaplan. Kaplan was a self-proclaimed authority on what he called the “Hoax of Amityville”.
Ed told Kaplan to produce any challenge to the investigation. Kaplan ignored him, later co-authoring a book called “Amityville Horror Conspiracy”.
Years later during an interview with a Babylon New York radio station, Kaplan admitted to fabricating one of the hoax rumors.
He ended the interview by saying, “I will never go against the Warren’s again”.
And finally, it’s said the spirit of a little boy appeared in a photo taken during the investigation. It became one of the most famous ghost photos in the world.
The Warren’s believed it was the youngest DeFeo son, John Matthew.
For skeptics there’s another theory. A look-a-like named Paul Bartz was an assistant during the investigation. Looking at this side-by-side comparison it’s hard to tell. You be the judge!
Lorraine Warren says it all
In June of 2010, Lorraine Warren spoke at an event inside the Alumnae Theatre in Toronto. I was part of a promotion team for the event.
This was only 4 years after Ed’s death. Accompanied by her son-in-law Tony Spera, she put on a very eye-opening, convincing presentation of a storied career.
During the Q & A, a local investigator stood and asked a question. “Would you ever return to Amityville?”
Lorraine whispered, “No!” She was visibly shaken at the idea. Then saying,
“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.”
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