Amityville Horror Hoax Debunked

112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville is a famous address that is known the world over. It has been the subject of numerous horror movies, used as evidence as support for the supernatural, and there have been several books published about the events that occurred there. The only problem is that the true events that have been presented in a non-fiction way are just a complex story that was hatched for one purpose: to make money.

What Happened in Amityville?

There really was an Amityville horror at 112 Ocean Avenue. In the middle of November in 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr., commonly known as “Butch,” went to the home at that address and murdered his parents and four of his siblings. The police were called out to the address because DeFeo went to a bar afterward and told the bartender what had happened. The responding officers were met with the site of six bodies and clear evidence that DeFeo had committed the crime.

As with many mass murder incidents that involve family, the question of mental health was brought up during DeFeo’s trial on the six murders. The jury that heard the case found him guilty of 6 counts of second degree murder and he was sentenced to a combined sentence of 125 years to life. He’s still sitting in prison today for the murders.

Just one year later, the Lutz family purchased the home, knowing full well that the six murders had happened at the house. With three children in tow, they lived there for about 30 days in total before moving out.

Where the Ghosts and Spirits Haunting the Lutz Family?

The stories that came from the Lutz family included a number of incredible supernatural phenomena. They included green slime, just like Slimer from Ghostbusters would leave later on, cold and hot spots in the home, swarms of flies, strange voices, and even an invisible brass band. Most notably, Kathy Lutz stated that she was regularly beaten and scratched and a priest that they’d called to help was physically attacked when he walked into the home.

These are all fairly common paranormal incidents, minus the strange green slime, so the incident had a certain level of plausibility. One the Lutz family moved out in January of 1976, the American Society For Psychical Research [ASPR] moved in. They discovered that the entire incident was a fake. What caused them to be so sure?

There was a contract in place that specifically mentioned royalties from the profits of films or books that resulted from the Amityville story. It wasn’t signed by the Lutz family. It was signed by Ronald DeFeo, the murderer of his 6 family members.

A Lot of Fame Was Claimed That Day

It wasn’t just the ASPR that was present on the day that the home in Amityville was investigated. Reporters from CBS and the National Enquirer were also present. There would also be a pair of parapsychologists named Ed and Lorraine Warren. They would later use their presence at the investigation as their own claim to fame.

In the real tale of the Amityville horror, it was said that to help further the truthfulness of the story, the Lutz family contacted Dr. Stephen Kaplan, who was a little more well-respected than the Warrens. Kaplan had already doubted the tale when the initial story was given to him in the first interview. His doubts were confirmed when he read the account of what happened and this caused him to write his own conspiracy-based non-fiction account of the story.

It wasn’t just the parapsychologists that helped to debunk this hoax. The Catholic church got involved and confirmed that they had never sent a priest out to the address in question. None of their priests had reported any mysterious injuries that day and no congregants noticed unusual injuries on their priests during mass.

For added confirmation, the hoax was admitted to during a radio interview by DeFeo’s attorney. He specifically stated that the entire haunting episode had been concocted with his help and the Lutz family so that everyone could make some money. In the words of DeFeo’s attorney, it was a plan that was hatched over “many bottles of wine.”

There Were More Amityville Lawsuits Than Horrors

As the book became popular around the United States, there were a number of lawsuits filed so that everyone involved could get their share of the monetary pie. DeFeo’s lawyer sued the Lutz family in order to get his share of the profits of the book, which was a lawsuit that he won. The Lutz family sued DeFeo’s lawyer because they claimed the entire Amityville horror was real and he was not entitled to any profits. They lost.

The lawsuits didn’t stop there. The new owners of the home ended up filing a lawsuit against the book publishers and the author because people were invading their privacy. They even changed the exterior of the home to drive curiosity seekers from taking a close look at the property without an invitation. The new owners settled this lawsuit out of court.

The priest who was involved with the story, Fr. Ralph Pecararo, sued the Lutz family and the publishers of the non-fiction tale for an invasion of privacy and a warped tale about how he was involved with the case. He too settled his lawsuit out of court.

The Scamming Didn’t Just Stop There

The Amityville horror was such a good story that, to its credit, spawned a lot of additional scams. There are the numerous movies that have been produced by Hollywood, of course, and lots of book sequels that have delighted horror fans for more than a generation. Then there was a man named Hans Holzer, who decided that he needed to get a piece of the action.

Holzer claimed that the Amityville horror was an accurate account of what had happened, but it wasn’t the DeFeo murders that had caused the hauntings. It was because the house itself had been built on top of an old Native burial ground. During a 1977 investigation with Ethel Johnson-Meyers, Holzer documents how his partner was able to channel the spirit of a tribal chief from the Shinnecock tribe.

Why was this tribal chief haunting people? It was because white people dug up the bones of his ancestors. This caused all Caucasians who would step onto the property to become potential vehicles for being possessed. You see, Holzer’s theory was that DeFeo didn’t willing commit the murders. An evil spirit had possessed his soul and caused him to commit this horrible act.

Ironically, there are no burial mounds or grave sites in that area of Amityville because the Native tribe believed that demons had infested the ground at that site. Holzer should have probably used that information as an attempt to continue the hoax of the Amityville horror because it would have been a lot more believable.

In the End, the Facts Just Don’t Add Up At All

Whether you enjoyed the original film or the 2005 remake, the problem is that many of the facts that are listed with the recounting of the Amityville horror just don’t add up. At one point in the story, a demonic hoofprint is mentioned as being seen in the snow. A simple check of the weather records for that year proves that there were was no snowfall in the area at that time.

The Amityville horror story also discusses how there was extensive damage to the home, especially to the doors of the home. The initial investigation, police reports, and paranormal follow-ups document that the doorknobs, the hinges, and even the original locks on the doors were untouched from any paranormal activity.

As a final insult to fact-based observers of this story, the Lutz family claimed that they called the police to have them come out to the house to investigate what was going on. Over the 28 day period when the Lutz family was supposedly being attacked be evil spirits, however, they never called the police once.

So why make this whole story up? For the Lutz family, it was for pure financial gain. The tens of thousands of dollars that they’ve made from the rights to this story over the years helped them considerably, especially since the family always claimed that the events were real. For DeFeo’s lawyer, the attempt was initially to gain a new trial for his client. When that didn’t happen as expected, then money became a good secondary goal to pursue.

Most people do not actually know that the Amityville horror events are an admitted hoax. That doesn’t change the fact that 6 people lost their lives and that many attempted to profit from it, including the murderer.