The Amityville Horror -


TheAmityvilleHorrorbyJay Anson

PREFACEby Reverend John NicolaThe problem to which this book addresses itself is one which, althoughit is as old as mankind, needs to be brought to the attention ofthoughtful readers today. All civilizations have expressed some sense ofinsecurity and fear over the spotty but recurring reports of phenomenathat leave men feeling victimized by hostile beings with superhumanpowers. Human beings in different societies have responded to suchchallenges in various ways. Words, gestures, and amulets or otherobjects have been ritually employed in response to demonic attacks; thiswas as true of the ancient Semitic civilizations like the Babyloniansand their fear of demons as it is of present Christian rites ofexorcism.In our modern Western world, there are three main stances which, invarious combinations, characterize the multitude of attitudesindividuals assume toward reports of siege by mysterious powers. Thefirst, the scientific, views the world--and perhaps the universe-asgoverned by unvarying laws that have been discovered, or at least arediscoverable, by scientific investigation. Diametrically opposed to thisis a stance that seems to deplore, if not ignore, the findings of

science seeing empirical reality as shallow and meaningless; it focusesinstead on unseen spiritual realities, and may be characterized assuperstitious. The third stance contains something of each of the othertwo. While adhering to science as a method, it broadens the vistas ofpositive science, incorporating spiritual dimensions of reality throughtheological and philosophical considerations. This we may call thereligious stance.One certainty is that the phenomena reported in this book do happen-andto ordinary people and families who are neither exhibitionists norattention seekers. Often the response of the positive scientist is todeny the reality of reported data and to refuse even to examine theevidence; here, it appears, we are dealing with a prejudice. On theother hand, those scientists who credit the evidence and applyscientific methodology to attempting an explanation generally restrictthe possibilities to science as it is known today, or presume thatprojected findings of empirical science will one day explain thephenomena. This is one reasonable and integral approach. Superstitiouspeople seize on psychic phenomena as justification for a sometimesunreasonable approach to life. Interjecting irrational fears andsenseless preconceived notions or explanations into situations like theAmityville case Jay Anson describes here simply increases the sufferingof those involved. The prejudice thus exhibited is clear.

Needless to say, incorporated in a religiously oriented person's pointof view are the data of revelation. Since revelation presumescommunication from God, and in turn presumes the existence of God andHis interest in human affairs, we can see that here, too, a prejudice isimplied-to wit, the prejudice of faith. The balanced person of faithwill admire and accept the findings of modern science but conclude that,even projecting future developments, it is myopic to think that naturedoes not reveal a depth of reality beyond the empirical realm of naturalscience. As is the case with an open minded scientist, a sensiblebeliever may also accept an integrated approach to psychic phenomena.Thus we observe that whatever stance an individual adopts, it will reston certain prejudices that cannot be proven to the satisfaction of thosewho choose to adopt a different construction. When psychic phenomenaoccur in the life of a family, and that family looks for help, itsmembers may be repelled equally by the naYvete of the superstitious, theuncertainty of those who profess belief in the supernatural but seemashamed and confused at their own beliefs, and by the haughty pride ofthe positive scientist asserting with certainty things contradictory toone's own experience.Unfortunately, this complex web of ignorance, bias, and fear causes a

great deal of suffering for the unsuspecting family suddenly tossed intoan upsetting and frightening situation. It is just such a case to whichJay Anson addresses himself. If the story were fiction, it would easilybe dismissed as irrelevant. It is, however, a documentary told by thefamily and the priest who actually experienced what is reported; and assuch, the tale must give us pause for thought. Those of us who have beeninvolved in psychic investigations can verify the fact that the case isnot atypical. Because of the uncertainties connected with theparanormal, I, as a believer in science and in religion, would be remissnot to warn readers against the dangers both of an arrogance thatprofesses a grasp of the unknown and of a bravado that boasts of acontrol of the transcendent. The wise man knows that he does not knowand the prudent man respects what he does not control.THE AMITYVILLE HORRORPROLOGUEOn February 5, 1976, the Ten O'Clock News on New York's Channel Fiveannounced it was doing a series on people who claimed to haveextrasensory powers. The program cut to reporter Steve Bauman

investigating an allegedly haunted house in Amityville, Long Island.Bauman said that on November 13, 1974, a large colonial house at 112Ocean Avenue had been the scene of a mass murder. Twenty-four-year-oldRonald DeFeo had taken a high-powered rifle and methodically shot todeath his parents, two brothers, and two sisters. DeFeo had subsequentlybeen sentenced to life imprisonment."Two months ago," the report continued, "the house was sold for 80,000to a couple named George and Kathleen Lutz." The Lutzes had been awareof the killings, but not being superstitious, they had felt the housewould be perfect for themselves and their three children. They moved inon December 23. Shortly thereafter, Bauman said, they had become awarethat the place was inhabited by some psychic force and that they fearedfor their lives. "They talked of feeling the presence of some energyinside, some unnatural evil that grew stronger each day they remained."Four weeks after they moved in, the Lutzes abandoned the house, takingonly a few changes of clothes. At present, they were staying withfriends in an undisclosed location, But before they left, Channel Fivestated, their predicament had become known in the area. They hadconsulted the police and a local priest as well as a psychic researchgroup. "They reportedly told of strange voices seeming to come from

within themselves, of a power which actually lifted Mrs. Lutz off herfeet toward a closet behind which was a room not noted on anyblueprints." Reporter Steve Bauman had heard of their claims. Afterdoing some background research on the house, he discovered that tragedyhad struck nearly every family inhabiting the place, as well as anearlier house built on the same site.The Channel Five announcer went on to say that William Weber, theattorney representing Ronald DeFeo, had commissioned studies hoping toprove that some force influenced the behavior of anyone living at 112Ocean Avenue . Weber claimed this force "may be of natural origin," andfelt it might be the evidence he needed to win his client a new trial.On camera, Weber said he was "aware that certain houses could be builtor constructed in a certain manner so as to create some sort ofelectrical currents through some rooms, based on the physical structureof the house. Again, the scientists said they 'are investigating that,to rule that out.' And after they rule out all reasonable or scientificexplanation, then it's going to be referred over to another group atDuke University , who will delve into the psychic aspects of the case."The report concluded by saying that the Catholic Church was alsoinvolved. Channel Five stated that two emissaries from the Vatican hadarrived in Amityville in December, and were reported to have told the

Lutzes to leave their home immediately. "Now the Church's Council ofMiracles is studying the case, and its report is that indeed 112 OceanAvenue is possessed of some spirits beyond current human knowledge." Twoweeks after the telecast, George and Kathy Lutz held a press conferencein attorney William Weber's office. The DeFeo lawyer had met the couplethree weeks before through mutual friends.George Lutz stated to reporters that he would not spend another night inthe house, but he was not planning to sell 112 Ocean Avenue just then.He was also awaiting the results of some scientific tests to beconducted by parapsychologists and other "sensitive" professionalresearchers of occult phenomena.At that point in time, the Lutzes cut off all communication with themedia, feeling that too much was being overstated and exaggerated. It isonly now that their whole story is being told.1 December 18, 1975, George and Kathy Lutz moved into 112 Ocean Avenueon December 18. Twenty-eight days later, they fled in terror.George Lee Lutz, 28, of Deer Park, Long Island, had a pretty good ideaof land and home values. The owner of a land surveying company, William

H. Parry, Inc., he proudly let everyone know that the business was athird-gene ration operation: his grandfather's, his father's, and nowhis. Between July and November, he and his wife, Kathleen, 30, hadlooked at over fifty homes on the Island's South Shore before decidingto investigate Amityville. None in the thirty to fifty thousand dollarrange had yet met their requirements-that the house must be on the waterand that it must be one to which they could move George's business.In the course of their search, George called the Conklin Realty Officein Massapequa Park and spoke to broker Edith Evans. She said that shehad a new house that she wanted to show them, and that she could takethem through the place between three and three-thirty. George made theappointment and the broker-an attractive, warm woman-took them there atthree in the afternoon.She was very pleasant and patient with the young couple. "I'm not sureif this is what you're looking for," she told George and Kathy, "but Iwanted to show you how the 'other half' of Amityville lives." The houseat 112 Ocean Avenue is a big, rambling, three-story affair, with darkshingles and white trim. The lot on which it stands is 50 by 237, thefifty feet facing the front, so that as you look at the house fromacross the street, the entrance door is down the right side. With theproperty comes thirty feet of wooden bulkhead that stands against the

Amityville River .On a lamppost at the end of the paved driveway, is a small sign bearingthe name given the house by a previous owner. It reads "High Hopes." Anenclosed porch with wet bar looks out at a preferred, older residentialcommunity of other big homes. Evergreens grow around the narrow grounds,partly blocking off the neighbors on either side, but their drawn shadescan be seen easily enough. When he looked around, George thought thatwas peculiar. He noticed the neighbors' shades were all drawn on thesides that faced his house, but not in front or in the direction of thehouses on the other side.The house had been on the market for almost a year. It was not in thepaper, but was fully described in Edith Evans' agency listing:EXCLUSIVE AMITYVILLE AREA: 6 bedroom Dutch Colonial, spaciouslivingroom, formal dining room, an closed porch, 3-1/2 baths, finishedbasement, 2-car garage, heated swimming pool and large boathouse. Asking 80,000Eighty thousand dollars! For a house described like that in the listing,

it would have to be falling apart, or the typist could have left out a"1" before the "8." One might think she'd want to show a suspect bargainafter dark and from the outside only, but she was glad to show theminside. The Lutzes' examination was pleasant,-swift but thorough. Notonly did it meet with their exact requirements and desires, but contraryto their anticipations, the house and other buildings on the propertywere in fine condition.Without hesitation, the broker then told the couple it was the DeFeohouse. Everyone in the country, it seems, had heard about that tragedy,the twenty-three-year-old Ronald DeFeo killing his father, mother, twobrothers, and two sisters in their sleep on the night of November 13,1974.Newspaper and television accounts had told of the police discovering thesix bodies all shot by a high powered rifle. All-as the Lutzes learnedmonths later -were lying in the same position: on their stomachs withtheir heads resting on their arms. Confronted with this massacre, Ronaldhad finally confessed: "It just started; it went so fast, I justcouldn't stop."During his trial, his court-appointed attorney, William Weber, pleadedfor his insanity. "For months before the incident," the young man

testified, "I heard voices. Whenever I looked around, there was no onethere, so it must have been God talking to me." Ronald DeFeo wasconvicted of murder and sentenced to six consecutive life terms."I wonder if I should have told you which house this was before or afteryou saw it," the broker mused. "I'd like to know for my future referencewith clients looking for a house in the ninety-thousand dollar range."Clearly she didn't feel the Lutzes would be interested in such anaffluent property. But Kathy took one final look about the house, smiledhappily and said, "It's the best we've seen. It's got everything we everwanted." Obviously she had never hoped to live in such a fine house. ButGeorge vowed to himself that if there was a way, this was the place hewanted his wife to have. The tragic history of 112 Ocean Avenue didn'tmatter to George, Kathy, or their three children. This was still thehome they had always wanted.During the remainder of November and the early weeks of December, theLutzes spent their evenings laying out plans for minor modifications tobe made in the new house. George's surveying experience enabled him torough out suitable layouts for the changes.He and Kathy decided one of the bedrooms on the third floor would be fortheir two boys, Christopher aged

THE AMITYVILLE HORROR PROLOGUE On February 5, 1976, the Ten O'Clock News on New York's Channel Five announced it was doing a series on people who claimed to have extrasensory powers. The program cut to reporter Steve Bauman. investigating an allegedly haunted house in Amityville, Long Island. Bauman said that on November 13, 1974, a large colonial house at 112 Ocean Avenue had