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What Was the Amityville Horror?

The Amityville Horror refers to a series of events reported to have occurred at 112 Ocean Avenue, a large Dutch Colonial house in the suburban neighborhood of Amityville, on the south shore of Long Island, New York. In 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered six members of his family in this house. The following year, the Lutz family purchased the home at a significantly reduced price due to its macabre history. However, after just 28 days, the Lutzes left the house, claiming to have been terrorized by paranormal phenomena such as strange noises, mysterious odors, and ghostly apparitions.

The story of the Lutz family's experiences was adapted into a best-selling book, "The Amityville Horror," by Jay Anson in 1977, which was subsequently turned into a successful horror film franchise. The purported hauntings have been the subject of much controversy and skepticism, with some investigators labeling the events a hoax. Despite this, the tale has become a staple of American horror folklore, intriguing both believers in the paranormal and those interested in the psychological aspects of the horror narrative.

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

The Amityville Horror is the title of a book written by Jay Anson that recounts the supposedly true story of the Lutz family after they moved into 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. The book chronicles the paranormal encounters the Lutzes claim to have had in the short time they lived in the house, and much controversy has swirled around the validity of the accounts and the accuracy of the re-telling. While the disputed elements of the Lutz tale of the Amityville Horror remain in question, the house on Ocean Avenue was, in fact, the site of the brutal murder of the Defeo family.

The Lutz family moved into the house in December of 1975 with the knowledge that Ronald Defeo Jr. had shot and killed six members of his family in the house a year prior. George and Kathleen Lutz decided this would not be an issue for them and they moved into the house with their children; the family stayed there less than thirty days. The Amityville Horror had begun and each family member began to experience their own personal paranormal happenings.

The first paranormal occurrence in the Amityville Horror happened when the Lutz family had a priest bless the house.
The first paranormal occurrence in the Amityville Horror happened when the Lutz family had a priest bless the house.

The first paranormal occurrence considered to be a part of the Amityville Horror occurred when the Lutz family had a priest come bless the house at the behest of one of George Lutz’s friend. Upon spreading holy water and praying, the priest claimed to hear a man’s voice gruffly protest and tell him to “Get out.” He did, and advised George Lutz to keep his family out of that particular room in the house.

Other paranormal activities persisted and the Amityville Horror became more intense. Kathleen Lutz began having nightmares about the Defeo murders; George Lutz woke up every night around three in the morning, just around the time the Defeo murders had taken place; Missy Lutz developed an imaginary friend with the shape of a pig and demonic, red eyes; the walls leaked green slime; and strange noises could be heard throughout the house.

After the Lutz family moved out of the Amityville Horror house, other residents moved in and none have complained of any paranormal activity. Much of the Lutz family’s story has been disputed throughout the decades following the Amityville Horror, and many critics claimed George and Kathleen Lutz outright lied about their experiences in the house. While the book was based on supposed actual events, its marketing called it a "true story," thereby lending validity to all aspects of the book. George Lutz later said the book was mostly true.

Several films have been made about the Amityville Horror and the story remains a staple in pop culture, despite its still-swirling controversy. The house on Ocean Avenue has been modified, as has its address, to deter tourists from seeking out the private residence.

Discussion Comments


Hi Cristym. I didn't know the Lutz family on a personal basis, but my friends who happen to live close by in their neighborhood saw a lot of crazy nonsense going on at their house. Mostly yelling and cursing and partying and it wasn't the house causing them to act like that. There have been different people who helped with writing the book for the Lutz family and later recanted some of the things they said by admitting they were a little bombed when this book was dreamed up.

Yes, it is true that the Defeos were murdered in that house before the Lutz family ever moved in and their deaths were horrible but it's rather sad that they didn't leave well enough alone and stirred up trouble. Even to this day there are crazy fanatics who camp outside the Amityville house hoping to see something paranormal happen.


@darlalogan: How do you know that? You are right about doing anything when you are desperate. I was just curious if you knew these people personally or if that is just what you heard.


I know for a fact that the Mr and Mrs Lutz were drinkers and the night they decided on a book deal with Ronald Defeos, attorney.

They were drinking pretty heavy at the time plus the lutzes were in a lot of financial distress and needed to find income from another source. I figured by combining the excess alcohol and desperation for money to get them out of their hardship.

They concocted a real elaborate story and some good acting to go with it to make it seem real convincing to others. Some people bought it, hook, line and sinker and others knew that something smelled a little fishy with the story and there other things that didn't quite fit together.

When you're desperate, you will do anything.

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    • The first paranormal occurrence in the Amityville Horror happened when the Lutz family had a priest bless the house.
      By: gregorydean
      The first paranormal occurrence in the Amityville Horror happened when the Lutz family had a priest bless the house.