This is about the Amityville Horror and the subsequent hoax theory. This is in their own words so you can decide for yourself. Ed Warren (self-proclaimed demonologists) said it best I think. “For the believer, no evidence is necessary. For the atheist or the skeptic. No evidence is possible. That settles it right there.”
In 1976 George and Kathy Lutz, fled in terror from their home on Long Island. They claimed their dream house was infested with evil spirits. As Georg Lutz explains’ “It’s not something we are told about, not something we understand. But it’s out there. It is a true story.” Fourteen months before the house had been a scene of a brutal mass murder. Was it now the scene of a massive fraud? Roxanne Kaplan states, “I think it was proven that they were actively involved in planning a deliberate hoax.”
In December, 1975 the house on 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York sits vacant and everyone in this quaint Long Island suburb town knows why. In the very early hours of November 13th, 1974 twenty three year old Ronald Defeo Jr, took a high powered hunting rifle and murdered all six of his family members in their sleep. Although Defeo was still serving six consecutive, twenty-five years to life prison terms, disturbing mysteries about the murders remains. Joel Martin (Author and paranormal expert) states, “To this day and no one is certain how Ronald Defeo Jr. killed his parents, two brothers and two sisters. Nobody heard a thing, how none of them even woke up.”
Thirteen months later despite the homes disturbing tragic history. Newlyweds George and Kathy Lutz decide to buy the charming dutch colonial set on Amityville’s scenic waterfront. Twenty-eight days later on January 14th, 1976 George and Kathy and Kathy’s three children from a previous marriage abandon the house leaving all of their possessions. In the first television interview in more than twenty years, (2000) the Lutz’s maintain that they were driven out of the Amityville house by hostile, supernatural forces.
According to George Lutz, “There were too many things happening too often and confronting us constantly.” Kathy Lutz says, “The sense for our very lives was there and we chose to go and not return.” Taking with them nothing but a few changes of clothes the Lutz’s seek refuge at the nearby home of Kathy’s mother.
Little more than a week after fleeing the house, the Lutz’s contact William Weber, the attorney for convicted murderer Ronald Defeo Jr. He states, “That when he first met with the Lutz’s, they told me a story about incidences that occurred to them and their children as a result of what they described was a phenomena in the house and they wanted to know if I had any evidence during the trial or during my investigation that could help them. I didn’t believe ninety percent of what they were saying but admittedly I was interested in writing a book on the case.
The book we were contemplating had three parts to it. Whether Defeo was a cold blooded killer. Whether he was criminally insane, whether he was possessed by some supernatural forces and the reader was going to be left to decide his or herself what Ronnie Defeo was.” William Weber wanted to publish the Lutz’s story of strange phenomenon as part of his book. The Lutz’s contend however, that they refused to sign the contract once they discovered that one of Weber’s business partners was Ronald Defeo Jr.George Lutz states, “As far as we were concerned. We went to Mr. Weber in good faith. The idea that Mr. Defeo was going to receive monies from this enterprise was just not something that made any sense to us to even consider.”
Kathy Lutz states, “The next phone call from William Weber was wanting a press conference, which was something I didn’t really want to do. And he said if we didn’t meet with him, that he would send the reporters to the school where the children were going and they would get the information from the children. And under that threat I agreed to the press conference.”
The Lutz’s press conference is held in the office’s of William Weber on February 16th, 1976. Although they end their association with William Weber soon thereafter, news of the Lutz’s ghostly tales spreads quickly drawing caravans of concerned and curious locals to Amityville’s newly dubbed “house of horrors.”
Meanwhile George Lutz contacts a handful of area paranormal researchers concerning the strange phenomenon in the house. Among them is the late Stephen Kaplan, founder of the “Long Island’s Parapsychology Institute of America.”
The next phase of the controversy is about to begin. Roxanne Kaplan states “My husband Stephen first became involved in the Amityville case uh… When he got a call from George Lutz saying that he would like Steve to come and investigate the house.” On a television show “Physic Channels” in 1983, Stephen Kaplan had this to say. “When I talked to George Lutz at the time, I was going to investigate. I said my fee is zero because if you are lying I am going to verbally rip you apart, but lord help if you are lying cuz I don’t like liars. My time is precious. I don’t want to waste it on garbage.”
Days later George Lutz abruptly calls of Kaplan’s investigation. George Lutz states, “That when his credentials wouldn’t check out and I found out he was a vampirologist we told him it was unfortunate but we would have no more to do with him.” The Kaplans says the Lutz’s gave him a much different reason for cancelling their investigation.
“George Lutz said, well you talked to the press, we didn’t want any publicity and Steve said, well if you didn’t want any publicity, why did you call a press conference the other day?” To which George Lutz has stated, “We never called that press conference, um… William Weber did.”Roxanne Kaplan
The very next day Stephen Kaplan tells a Long Island newspaper that he believes that the Amityville case is a hoax. His first strike in what would become a twenty year crusade to expose the Lutz’s story as a fraud.
Stephen Kaplan states on a television show, “I’m not on the take, I don’t sell out and I believe in integrity.”George Lutz states, “That Mr. Kaplan told us rather clearly that channel 7 was going to make him a star. Evidently, since I didn’t contribute to helping him become famous, the only other way for him to become famous was to call the whole thing a hoax. Though, what actually transpired between the Kaplan’s and the Lutz’s remains the subject of debate George and Kathy Lutz continue their search for a paranormal researcher. Enter Laura Didio, then a nineteen year old intern with a local television news station. She states that, “At the time I was an aspiring reporter. I just wanted to be Lois Lane, Brenda Star, Lana Lang. I said, wow this would be a great story for the T.V. Station. The Lutz’s at the time were not talking to anybody. They did not really want to talk to the media.”
George Lutz states that, “Laura Didio was the first person to come to us and say look, I don’t want anything to happen here that will hurt your family and I’d like, if you don’t mind to check out the creditability of people that you involve in this investigation.”
Laura Didio states, “Young as I was at the time, I was still a cynical New Yorker. One of the things that struck me about their story is they seemed genuinely frightened, and genuinely moved by whatever had happened to them in this house.”
A few days later Didio introduces the Lutz’s to self proclaimed demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren. After their initial meeting George and Kathy agree to let the Warren’s investigate.Laura Didio states, “The lutz’s felt I think, very calmed and comforted by the Warren’s who had a lot of experience in this field. Lorraine especially, is a very, very sympathetic, motherly character.”
Lorraine Warren states, “It was not even three weeks after George and Kathy Lutz fled that we actually entered the house for the very first time.”Ed Warren states, “Well when you go into such a home as Amityville, remember it was not the Amityville horror then, it was just another haunted house.”Laura Didio states, “I remember going with the Warren’s and of course you have that sense of anticipation ya know?
Where you get little goose bumps. Whats going to happen? On the one hand you’d like to see something happen. On the other hand your a little afraid and spooked that if something does happen, you don’t want to be in the eye of the storm.”
On February 24th, 1976, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren accompanied by a television news crew to investigate the abandoned Lutz home in Amityville, New York. Laura Didio states, “The first thing that struck us when we went in was that you would have thought they went out for the afternoon. Everything was as they left it. I mean they weren’t kidding when they said they fled the house. Lorraine Warren states, “The overwhelming impression as I entered the foyer of that beautiful home the first time, was sadness and depression but I was in a home where a horrible tragedy had occurred.” Laura Didio states, “Is that of course what you do remember is that six people were murdered in this house. So thats enough to make things spooky.”
While inspecting the basement, Ed Warren claims to have encountered a terrifying inhuman presence. He states, “Suddenly, it felt as though I was under a waterfall and the pressure was dragging me down to the floor and I commanded in the name of Jesus Christ what it was there to reveal it’s identity. There was hundreds of pin points of light of what I can only describe as electricity. I understood and knew right at that point that what we were dealing with was no ghost. This was no ordinary haunted house. This on a scale of one to ten was a ten.”
Days after their first visit to the house the Warren’s meet with Father Ralph Pecoraro. In a 1979 interview the priest recalled what he experienced while blessing the Lutz house. “I was sprinkling holy water and I heard a rather deep voice behind me saying get out. It seemed so directed at me I was really quite startled. I felt a slap on my face. I felt somebody slap me and there was nobody there.”
Lorraine Warren states, “We felt it was in our best interest to never go back into that house again. But we did go back in order to finish the research we were doing.”At the Lutz’s request, the Warren’s returned to the Amityville house on March the 6th, 1976, along with a contingent of physics, paranormal researchers and reporters. Among them one researcher, Laura Didio and a camera crew from New York’s Channel 5 Metro Media news who are on hand to film the investigation.
Laura Didio states that there must have been fifteen to twenty people in the house. “We had other researchers from Duke University’s very highly respected school of parapsychology, and of course there was myself. Marvin Scott, who was the on camera reporter, and a couple of other reporters from radio stations.” Lorraine Warren states, “They asked me at one point to see if we should hold a seance. I was little bit leery about doing that. I felt I was putting myself in jeopardy.”
Veteran news caster Marvin Scott who covered the event for the local television station recalls that the night he spent in the Amityville house was anything but sensational. He stated, “During the course of the seance one of the physics became ill and left the room. Another complained of a pounding heart. Now personally I felt a slight chill in the back of my neck and I didn’t think much of it. After all it was a cold February night.” Lorraine Warren states, “It was a dangerous, dangerous night during that period of time. Yes. It was very intense that night.”
At about 3:15 am a second seance is conducted in the upstairs sewing room. The area where the Warrens believe the demonic force is the strongest. Lorraine Warren states, “I hope this is as close to hell as I’ll ever get.” Marvin Scott recalls much later on, “While I felt nothing Lorraine said she felt something so horrific, she felt it was from the very bowels of the earth. Often I’m asked uh if I was scared the night I spent in that house. Quite honestly, the night I spent watching the movie a few years later, the rowdy, pot smoking audience was a lot more frightening than the night I spent in that house at 112 Ocean Avenue.”
Laura Didio states, “Marvin was from the same school of reporting that we all come from. Which is show us. Let’s get this on tape and I remember Marvin turning to me and said, “I don’t think we got it.” “It” meaning a really good story.
That sort of smoking gun that you always want to see on camera. There was nothing out of the ordinary that you actually saw other than the impressions you heard from a physic. Just because you give a ghost party, doesn’t mean that the ghosts and the demons and the goblins or whatever is there, is going to show up and perform for you.”
According to the Warren’s, photographs taken during the investigation offer compelling evidence that supernatural forces were at work at 112 Ocean Avenue. Ed Warren states, “Remember that G. Campbell, the man who took these pictures is an expert. When you are looking at a face of what looks like a child. If you look, it looks like luminescent eyes, but it could be glasses,
could be anything.” Lorraine states, “A demonic spirit. It can appear as anything it wants to appear as.”Although they insist that no children were present in the house when this photograph was taken. The Warrens admit that it has never been scientifically authenticated.
Ed Warren states, “For the believer, no evidence is necessary. For the atheist or the skeptic. No evidence is possible. That settles it right there.”By the spring of 1976, George and Kathy Lutz forfeit their twenty-four thousand dollar investment in the Amityville house and move to California.
Meanwhile, paranormal researcher Stephen Kaplan sets out to prove that the Amityville case is a not so clever hoax.
Roxanne Kaplan states, “If you go back and get the original newspaper articles that first came out. The story changes each time there’s a new version.” Although the Lutz’s admit that certain aspects of their story were exaggerated and misrepresented by the press. They insist that this had more to do with the sensation starved media than with them.
George Lutz said, “That was just a beginning indication of what things the media would say and be wrong. End up being quoted wrong, said wrong.” Roxanne states, “There is a possibility that anyone can be misquoted, however that doesn’t mean that the story they were telling was true.”
As interest in the Lutz’s house haunted house story grows, debunker Stephen Kaplan goes head to head against religious demonologist Ed and Lorraine Warren on a series of radio and television shows. Ed Warren on one of the shows asks, “Your a parapsychologist, you are Doctor Stephen Kaplan yes? What kind of instrumentation did you use?”
Stephen Kaplan replied, “I…one…one…of the scientific things we used is the people used to research the history of the house to give us an idea of the construction. Ed Warren replies with, “Yes but what about in the house?” and the host of the show states, “Yes, you are not answering the question Steve.”
Stephen Kaplan replies and says, “We have people with uh…uh…uh electric equipment inside. Ed Warren then asks, “What would you call that equipment?” Stephen replies, “I wouldn’t have the terminology for that.” To which Ed Warren asks, “But you are a parapsychologist?” Stephen Kaplan says, “Yes I am, but I am not an electronics expert.”
Soon their public debate sparks a bitter personal conflict that rages on to this day. Roxanne Kaplan states, “Ed and Lorraine Warren, I think are the biggest phonies and the most dangerous people around. Because they are the type of individuals that scare people out of their homes. I believe the Warren’s are taking advantage of the public. They make their living from this field. Unlike Stephen who made his living from teaching.”
Ed Warren states, “He was no parapsychologist. He had no doctorate. The man was as phony as a three dollar bill.” As the conflict between the Warren’s and the Kaplan’s continues unabated, attorney William Weber contacts another paranormal expert Professor Hans Holzer regarding the still abandoned house on 112 Ocean Avenue.
It is January, 1977, nearly one year after the Lutz’s ended their association with Ronald Defeo Jr’s. trial attorney. William Weber states, “Once Ronnie was convicted, the next line of attack was to appeal the case and that’s what was done.” Hans Holzer states, “William Weber cam to me when the young man was already in jail and asked whether he could help reopen the case on the basis of what my findings were.”
Today however William Weber denies having requested Hans Holzer’s help with Ronald Defeo’s appeal. William Weber says, “I don’t recall whether I uh…well I…look, I may have called Hans Holzer in but it certainly wasn’t to investigate the case. Hans Holzer was not as I recall, brought in to affect an appeal, although Hans had strong feelings that Ronnie was definitely possessed. On January 13th, 1977 Hans Holzer visits 112 Ocean Avenue with deep trance medium Ethel Johnson Meyers. Using her physic abilities, Mrs. Meyers theorizes that the house is built on sacred Indian burial ground. She stated of the Amityville house, “The Indian force takes over. When it takes over it’s deadly.”
Photographs taken during Holzer’s ghost investigation shows what he believes is evidence of paranormal activity.
Hans Holzer states, “Superimposed on the scene of me standing up in front of the entranced medium, there appears to be white matter which we call ectoplasm and it is quite clearly a man on a horse.” Hans Holzer continues his investigation at the Amityville Historical Society where the curator reveals that the skeleton of an Indian Chief had been unearthed on Ocean Avenue during the early part of the twentieth century.
Hans Holzer states, “I am convinced that Ronald Defeo was under the power and influence of the Indian when those events occurred.”The ever skeptical Kaplan’s however, question Holzer’s motives. Roxanne Kaplan says on the matter, “I think Dr. Holzer is heavily into mixing truth with fiction. He had a contract for a book about the Amityville case. So he had a motivation to say that there was something there. I know that a lot of the things in the book that he wrote was disproved. There was no Indian burial ground under the house. The Indians don’t bury their dead near the water. Hans Holzer I believe just decided to put it there cuz it was more convenient.”
Chief Straight Arrow (Montaukett Tribe of Long Island) states, “One must remember that over three hundred years or four hundred years. The erosion that has taken place has caused water to shift it’s table and either rise or fall so a lot of our burials are underwater. So would the spirit be underwater?
For his part Hans Holzer questions Stephen Kaplan’s motives for decrying the Amityville case as a hoax. Hans Holzer states, “When I found out I was involved with Amityville house and he asked, (Stephen Kaplan) please could I come along, I want to come along to the house the next time you go and visit. I politely explained to him that would not be possible. He then turned against me and complained that the whole things was a hoax. That’s how the whole thing started.”
Roxanne Kaplan replies, “My husband Stephen was not jealous of Hans Holzer uh…he didn’t particularly care for his style of research or think that the things he wrote about were true and he certainly never begged Hans Holzer to go to the house with him. Uh…no that’s just total bologny.”
Despite the claims of doubters and skeptics, Hans Holzer still believes that a powerful spiritual force is at work in the Amityville house.
He states, “It’s not a haunted house per say. It is a relationship between a very angry spirit and someone to whom he can speak. I personally have great sympathy with the Indian Chief because his land and tomb was desecrated. But on the other hand there was murder.” The Amityville Horror becomes a cottage industry amid a firestorm of controversy.
In the early weeks and months after fleeing the Amityville horror house George and Kathy Lutz claimed to have recorded a series of audio tapes in an attempt to make sense out of the twenty-eight harrowing days they spent there. The Lutz’s recall specific events and their reactions to them but find it difficult to pinpoint exact times and dates.
George Lutz states, “In the process of doing these tapes we discovered how many things we remembered individually from a different point of view, or a different perspective. If I were to describe a noise that was incredibly loud, like a marching band walking right down the stairs. Kathy could be asleep through it. And I couldn’t understand how anybody could sleep through such a thing. But she could wake up and remember being touched from behind by someone when there was no one else in the house.”
In 1977, what begins as a local interest story in the Long Island press, snowballs into a national media frenzy that puts the Lutz’s directly in the public spotlight. Laura Didio says, “The whole Amityville horror began to take on a life of it’s own. This is a couple of years after the Exorcist. So maybe people were just in the right frame of mind for a really good ghost story. But the interest in this house and what happened to them reached a fever pitch.”
The first national article chronicling the Lutz’s twenty-eight day ordeal appears in the April, 1977 edition of Good Housekeeping magazine. The article is written by Paul Hoffman who had met the Lutz’s one year earlier through attorney William Weber. William Weber states, “At that point I was interested in writing a book on the case and I brought in Paul Hoffman to assist me in writing the book.”
George Lutz says, “Hoffman never had permission from us to go ahead and print that article. We sued Good Housekeeping, we sued Paul Hoffman and we sued Weber.” Shortly before moving to California in the spring of 1976 the Lutz’s are introduced to Tom Mosman and editor for the publishing firm of Prentice Hall. Mosman is intrigued by their story and recommends hiring Jay Anson, an established writer of documentary films. To write a book based on their experiences. Anson suggests calling it the The Amityville Horror. George Lutz contends, “Kathy and I agonised over the decision whether this should be a book, whether we should stand up to the ridicule that was obviously going to happen. The choice was ours. It was a free choice. We made it together.”
The Amityville Horror is published in the fall of 1977. It’s subtitle boldly proclaiming it to be a true story. Although reviews are mixed. Strong word of mouth bolstered by a national publicity campaign turn the book into a overnight sensation. Meanwhile the relentless Stephen Kaplan tries to persuade the public that this supposed true story is an outright fraud. Roxanne Kaplan says, “If you compare the original edition of the hardcover version with the first paperback edition you will see hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of changes. According to the hardcover the priest was driving on the expressway when the hood of his car suddenly flew open and smashed his windshield. This was impossible because he was driving a Chevy, Vega and the hood opens the other way. It couldn’t have smashed the windshield. So they changed it to a tan Ford in the paperback.
George Lutz claimed that the front door flew off it’s hinges and what it was, was the screen door. The wooden door was still there in place when we saw the house. It was the screen door that was hanging. And in the winter on Long Island next to the water, it is not unusual to lose a screen door.”
Ed Warren states, “When George and Kathy Lutz said to Jay Anson, in those tapes. That the door exploded before their very eyes. Jay Anson didn’t explain how it happened. It’s a telepathic illusion. There was no physical door exploding. In other words…you and I could be in a room together. You see a ghost. I don’t see it. That’s because the ghost has projected it’s image to you. Not me. Thats what George and Kathy would see many times and thats how ghosts are seen. Telepathically.”
But, do the factual errors and dramatic embellishments found in Jay Anson’s book prove that the Lutz’s conspired to create a hoax? Roxanne Kaplan says, “When you change a Chevy, Vega to a tan Ford because it doesn’t fit your profile on what happened to the priest. Thats…thats an out and out deception. I don’t think anything can be one hundred percent accurate. But when you read something as non-fiction, I think the public has a right to demand that the large majority of whats there is the truth.”
Attorney William Weber contend that the Lutz’s had always planned to cash in on the Defeo murder tragedy. Starting from the time they decided to buy the house. William Weber says, “The Lutz’s game plan was to make a commercial venture of their living in the Defeo residence. There’s no question in my mind that was their aim and their goal.”
George Lutz states, “Why would Weber accuse us of concocting a hoax with him and then make us swear in the contract that he wanted us to sign. That we would absolutely tell the truth and agree to take polygraph tests.”
Hans Holzer says on the matter, “William Weber at no time intimated that the Amityville case was a hoax. He was not committed to parapsychology but he told me more than once
that he was fully convinced that the possession theory was the most likely. If he had said he thought it was a fraud, well he has his reasons for it. I don’t know what they are, but it’s not true.”
Laura Didio says, “Lets pursue the theory that in fact the Lutz’s had this grand, master scheme. That they were going to come in and create a haunted house story. First of all they left their whole investment. Their life savings was wrapped up in this house. There have been lots of haunted house stories throughout the ages. But you don’t know which ones are going to take off and capture the publics imagination. The odds would be against them making a lot of money off of a haunted house.”
Ed Warren says, “The thing is this. That if your gonna create a hoax, your gonna make sure that you get your share of…of the money. Now remember George and Kathy made some money. But they didn’t make the money the producers and that Jay Anson made. They became wealthy. George and Kathy never did.”
But how much did the Lutz’s profit from the Amityville Horror? George Lutz states, “I think we probably made a little over a quarter of a million dollars from the original book. Somewheres around one hundred and sixty thousand dollars from the movie, total…to date. More than one third of that went to lawyers fees easily..or not so easily (chuckle) defending lawsuits.”
One of the first lawsuits brought against the Lutz’s is the one filed by Jim and Barbara Cromarty who bought the Ocean Avenue house in the spring of 1977. The Cromarty’s who see no evidence that the house is haunted, soon find their own lives turned upside down. Not be demons or evil spirits. But by the hundreds of tourists and would be ghost hunters who besiege their home.
Claiming that the Amityville horror is directly responsible for their plight, the Comarty’s sue Jay Anson, publisher Prentice Hall and the Lutz’s for invasion of privacy. Roxanne Kaplan says, “The real horror of that house was number one, the horrible murders that took place and number two, the subsequent harassment of all of the owners that tried to live there and live a normal life.”
Although the Comarty’s eventually settle their lawsuit for an undisclosed sum. The constant harassment by the media and the public forces them to move out of the house after only two years. Ed Warren states, “Let me ask you a question. Six people were murdered in that house. Five people were driven out of there twenty eight after they lived there. Would you live in that house?”
After the phenomenal success of Jay Anson’s novel which goes through thirteen printings and sells more than ten million copies. The motion picture version of the Amityville horror is released by American International Pictures on July 27th, 1979 starring James Brolin and Margot Kidder and boasting an eye catching ad campaign. The film goes on to become of the biggest blockbusters of the summer taking in nearly eighty million dollars at the box office. Days before the movie is released however, attorney William Weber tells the associated press, that he participated in the creation of the story and that he is now suing George and Kathy Lutz for stealing the ideas that he suggested to them, as part of his own never realized book project in 1976.
William Weber states, “When I first met with the Lutz’s we spent literally, I would say five or six hours…over several bottles of wine, that they graciously produced. And thats when talk as to the slime on the doors and the toilets and around the window sills took place. I had suggested certain phenomenon could be interpreted as a supernatural phenomenon. But I knew all along that it was just a commercial venture and it was fabricated, uh part of it. It wasn’t true.”
George Lutz says, “Mr. Weber’s very inaccurate to say that he provided us with any materials that ended up in the Amityville Horror. The real problem with Mr. Weber is that he can pretty much say what he wants, and I don’t feel like going back to court, to fight him again. It’s unfortunate that some people just seem to go a little nuts when all this came about.”
In June of 1979, American International Pictures asks George and Kathy Lutz to submit to polygraph tests, during which they answer questions about their experiences at Amityville. They both pass.
Roxanne Kaplan says, “The polygraph test that the Lutz’s took, were conducted by the Star tabloid. I really don’t give much credence to that. They only wanted to be tested by certain experts. Experts in quotes, hired by the Star, who was then paying them for writing a story about them.”George Lutz replies, “Does this woman actually believe what she is saying when she says these things? The Star had absolutely nothing to do with the test. When American International Pictures said they would pay for the tests, we said we would like for them to be with the most qualified people that they could find. They picked Chris Gugus (?) and Michael Rice who were considered at that time, I think number three in the country for conducting tests.”
In September of 1979 Reverend Ralph J. Pecoraro, the Catholic Priest who blessed the Amityville house, is ordered to testify in Federal Court in the two million dollar counter-suit filed against the Lutz’s by attorney William Weber. Father Pecoraro swears under oath that he did in fact hear a disembodied voice in the house tell him to “get out.” But he can neither confirm nor deny the resulting terrors portrayed in the book or the film actually happened. Yet even as an out of court settlement is reached in the case. Reports of strange phenomenon continue to surround those involved in the Amityville Horror.
Jay Anson states on television show (David Suskind Show, 1977,) “After I finished the manuscript, I turned it over to my editor to take back to New Jersey. His car caught on fire…fine, an accident. I gave a copy of the manuscript to another friend, and there was a rainstorm and he went through what he thought was a puddle. Turned out to be a pothole. And his whole car sank. It was total wreck. The only thing that was dry in the whole car was the manuscript. The uh…the two incidents that took place after that, still shake me a little bit. Because I had given the first two chapters to a
friend of mine, named Frances Evans. She took it home and she died a fire that night. She and two daughters were killed.
Unfortunately, author Jay Anson does not get to enjoy the success of the Amityville Horror for very long. He dies of a heart attack in March of 1980, at the age of fifty nine, shortly after completing his second novel six, six, six, a reference to the biblical number for Satan. In perhaps the most startling twist of fate. Case debunker Stephen Kaplan suffers a fatal heart attack just weeks before the publication of his twenty year expose “The Amityville Horror Conspiracy.”
Although nearly three decades (nearly four now since this show aired) have passed since the bizarre chain of events unceremoniously placed a quaint Long Island village on the map. Those who fought to prove the Amityville Horror a hoax, still insist that there are no ghosts at 112 Ocean Avenue and never were. William Weber says, “Today if anyone asked me if the former Defeo residence on Ocean Avenue was haunted, uh… I would simply say. Why don’t you wait till I write a book and you could buy it to find out. But I would be saying that facetiously because the house has never been haunted. It isn’t haunted today and the Lutz’s have my congratulations. They made a very successful commercial venture and they pulled the wool over the publics eyes.”
Roxanne Kaplan says, “In general I believe that there could be some kind of residual feeling leftover in the house where a terrible murder had been committed. In this particular house, I couldn’t tell you. It has just as much of a chance of having strange phenomenon as any other house. But because of all the lies they were told and all the deceptions. We’ll never know.”
Despite the years of lawsuits and media harassment. The Lutz’s maintain to this day that their experiences were real. Kathy Lutz said, “Some people have called our testimony about Amityville a
hoax. There is nothing that I could say to them, nothing that I could show them, that would be evidence that this is the truth. It is the truth and it is my testimony. It is where I came from and to judge another’s testimony, not having experienced it, not having gone through it or been touched by it.
You don’t have the right. Yours is just an opinion and and an opinion doesn’t hold water.”George Lutz has the last word saying, “I believe that this has stayed alive for twenty five years because it’s a true story. That doesn’t mean that everything thats ever been said about it is true. It’s certainly not a hoax. It’s real easy to call something a hoax. That is, I wish it was. It’s not.”