By January 1976, rumors were floating around that the most recent homeowners of the Dutch Colonial house on a waterway at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York, had left because the place was haunted.

During a press conference on February 13 at an attorney’s office in Patchogue, explicitly held to clarify the story, the media was first introduced to the main characters of the entire tales: George and Kathleen Lutz.

These days anybody would think that journalists have just enough skepticism to question ghost-related reports, but the 1970s American was too much awash in superstition.

Ghosts made an appealing story for newspapers, even if it was nothing but fiction.

The chain of events that would eventually become one famous tale of a haunted house started with actual real-world gruesome murders of six people in 1974.

There were murder houses before Amityville in America, for example, the home of Gertrude Baniszewski, one owned by John Wayne Gacy, the modest property of Andrea Yates’ and a lot more.

Still, no place has made an impression on American pop culture as deep and notorious as the Amityville home.

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10 /10 Family Onslaught

The previous owner of the house was the DeFeo family. The tale of Amityville horror began on the evening of November 13, 1974.

The oldest son of the family, Ronald DeFeo Jr., ran to a nearby bar and told people his parents had been shot. A group of people came to check and found the story to be true.

One of them then called the emergency service. Officers from the Suffolk County Police Department responded to the report. Upon arriving, they discovered six dead bodies inside the house.


9 /10 The Victims

It was not that difficult to identify the victims and causes of death.

All were Ronald’s own families, including the parents Ronald DeFeo Sr. (43) and Louise (43), as well as four siblings: Dawn (18), Allison (13), Marc (12), and John Matthew (9).

They were found dead lying face down in bed. Father and mother had been shot twice each, whereas the siblings had been killed with single shots. The family had lived there since 1965.

The victims were later buried in Saint Charles Cemetery in Farmingdale. After the murders, Ronald Jr. was the only surviving member of the family.


8 /10 Lies Crumbled

During questioning, Ronald told the police that Louis Falini was the killer.

Falini was a notorious hitman employed by the mafia. On November 15, detectives made an important discovery: the type of weapon used in the carnage was a .35 caliber Marlin 336C rifle.

Several hours earlier, a detective had recovered a cardboard box labeled with the name of the same weapon in Ronald’s room.

Now the investigation began to consider him a suspect. Although Ronald was pretty creative in telling lies about how the murders had happened, he eventually cracked under pressure.

7 /10 Insanity Defense

The trial began on October 14, 1975. Ronald DeFeo retained a well-known attorney William Weber who knew that his client had a history of drug use and psychotic behaviors.

Based on the information, the attorney saw the opportunity to plead not guilty because of insanity – a good defense since the prosecution had already confirmed Ronald’s rifle was the murder weapon.

On November 21, the jury found him guilty of six counts of murder.

Two weeks later, Ronald DeFeo Jr. was sentenced to six terms of 25 years to life. He served his time at the maximum-security prison Sullivan Correctional Facility.

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6 /10 Came The Lutzes

Two weeks after the sentencing of Ronald DeFeo Jr. came George and Kathy Lutz along with their three kids as new residents of the house at 112 Ocean Avenue, where allegedly plenty of unexplainable horrors began to happen.

The family claimed to have been disturbed by sinister forces that threw open windows, ripped a door and left it hanging from just one hinge, made green slime dripping from the ceiling, infested a room with hundreds of flies, peered into the house, and left strange-looking footprints in the snow, among myriad other supernatural phenomena. The Lutzes stayed only for 28 days.

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5 /10 Renowned Demonologist

A local television channel took the liberty to conduct some investigation into the haunting.

Psychics, including famous demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren, joined the effort to uncover the mystery. It was a group of clairvoyants in an attempt to figure out whether the Lutzes had been telling the truth or lies.

Lorraine claimed to have felt a negative entity from beneath, and another physic felt threatened by invisible forces. All came to a resounding conclusion that the house was haunted and exorcism was a must.


4 /10 Book Deal

The Amityville Horror: A True Story came out in September 1977. It was written by Jay Anson and published by Prentice Hall.

Unlike many of his previous works, The Amityville Horror is now a novel instead of a documentary short. Anson admitted that the strange phenomenon stopped after the Lutzes had moved out of the house in the book.

However, he asserted the story was improbably fabricated in another part, given the number of independent corroborations supporting the Lutzes’ narrative.

It became a best-selling book. More than two dozen movies are based on the book thus far.


3 /10 Inspired By The Exorcist

After the Lutzes, the house was purchased by James and Barbara Cromarty, who claimed to have experienced none of the strange phenomena described in the book.

The only unwelcomed visitation was by the relentless self-claimed psychic investigators trespassing the property.

According to the couple, any other ghost-related story or tale of supernatural activities in the house was the only admixture of phenomena that seemed to have been inspired by the 1973 horror film The Exorcist comprised of part demonic possession, haunting, and poltergeist disturbances.

Another man who lived in the house for eight months also said nothing strange had happened.


2 /10 A Hoax Affair

Joe Nickel, a Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, talked with Barbara Cromarty when he visited Amityville as a consultant for In Search Of television series.

The homeowner once again contradicted the Lutzes’ accounts and even had evidence to prove that the whole affair had been all along with a hoax.

For example, the damaged door detailed by the Lutzes turned out to be in perfect condition. The locks, hinges, and doorknobs were intact.

Anybody could tell that the door and all the hardware had never been subjected to disturbances of any kind.


1 /10 Confession

The Cromartys ended up suing the Lutzes, Jay Anson, and Prentice-Hall, saying that the fraudulent claim had resulted in unwelcomed visitors disrupting the homeowners’ privacy.

During the trial, the Lutzes eventually admitted to fabricating nearly all the details written in the book.

Ronald’s attorney William Weber testified that the Lutzes had made up the horror story.

More recent owners of the property have all denied having any haunted-house experience. That said, the tale of the Amityville Horror is still going strong today. 

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