Amityville Horror House: A Hoax?

The Amityville horror house was a story that spawned a top movies upon its release. Although supposedly based on true events, it was really a hoax.

It all started in November of 1973, when twenty-three Ronald DeFeo, while high on heroin, shot and killed his four siblings and both of his parents. DeFeo was tried, convicted and sentenced to six life sentences for the crime.

The following year, 1974, again in November, George and Kathy Lutz purchased the DeFeo house, a six bedroom Colonial with a swimming pool and its own boathouse, located in the Long Island community of Amityville. The purchase price was reportedly eighty-thousand dollars. On December 12th, the Lutzs and their children moved into the house. A month later, on January 13, 1975; they moved out, supposedly in fear for their lives.

According to the Lutzs, they were driven from the house by supernatural forces, which began to occur the day they moved in. On that day, a family friend, Father Frank Mancuso, dropped by to bless the house. During the benediction, a booming male voice was heard, ordering them to "Get Out!". Over the nest few weeks, a string of strange occurrences followed. The Lutzs youngest child encountered, in her bedroom, a pig with "glowing red eyes." A heavy door was mysteriously torn from its hinges. George Lutz saw his wife, Kathy, levitating above their bed, and on another occasion, Lutz heard band music while in the living room and went to investigate. Failing to find the source, he returned to find the living room rug rolled up and the furniture moved around the room. Finally, during a torrential rainstorm, with winds of "hurricane strength", and the electrical power out, the Lutzs fled the house, leaving their belongings behind.

Approximately a year afterwards, author Jay Anson heard of the events in Amityville, and contacted the Lutz family. he was given exclusive rights to the story in exchange for an even split of the royalties. Anson's retelling of the story, "The Amityville Horror", became a best seller in both hardcover and paperback, was made into a highly successful movie, and a later somewhat less sucessful sequel. The Lutzs month of terror had made they and Anson relatively wealthy.

But then the bubble started to burst. It turned out that Anson had developed the story not from personal interviews with the Lutzs, but from forty-five hours of previously taped interviews provided to him by George Lutz. Lutz had also been talking with William Weber, an attorney representing none other than Ronald DeFeo. Defeo, having failed at an insanity plea, was trying to get a new trial through a "the devil made me do it" ploy, claiming the same supernatural forces that had tormented the Lutzs had forced him to commit his crime. (He failed.) Neither was Jay Anson the first writer Lutz had been in contact with.

Before Anson had ever heard of the Lutzs, they had struck a tenative deal with author Paul Hoffman to tell their story, but the deal had eventually fell through, resulting in the Lutzs taking Hoffman to court. This was a big mistake on their part. Under oath, George Lutz admitted that the incidents involving the band music and the rolled up rug and moving living room furniture and the door being ripped from its hinges had never happened. Nor had a supernatural voice ordered them from the house the day of its blessing. Indeed the house had never been "formally" blessed at all, not by Father Mancuso or any other priest. Lutz further stated that he "may have been only dreaming" when he saw his wife levitating above their bed. And no, he had never seen a pig, red-eyed or otherwise in his daughthers room. As for the "hurricane strength" rainstorm that knocked out power the day the Lutzs fled the house, weather reports that day only indicated "traces" of preciptation, with no reported power outages.

The whole thing was obviously a hoax or scam, but the question remains: Why?

The truth was never revealed. However certain information, which came to light later allows some educated guesses to be made. Although the house was fairly priced at eighty-thousand dollars, "People Magazine" found out that the Lutzs had only budgeted forty-thousand for their home purchase. Further, when they abandoned the house, the furniture they left behind was described as "cheap knock off". With these facts, it is easy to assume that the simplest solution is the correct one: money. The Lutzs had apparently gotten in over their head and this was the only solution they could find that to salvage something from impending financial disaster.

Within a year, the house had new owners, James and Barbara Cromarty and their children. "The book is completely untrue" Barbara told "People Magazine", "this is a lovely home." None of the Cromartys have ever seen or experienced any supernatural occurences. The only problems they have had have been from people wanting to see "The Amityville Horror."

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