Real or Hoax?

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The events that were immortalised in Stuart Rosenberg’s 1979 film The Amityville Horror, based on the book of the same name by Jay Anson, happened some 42 years ago — but the story is still as compelling as ever. Philip Ingham looks back on the events of 1975 and explains why he is convinced it wasn’t a hoax.
It was Thursday, December 18, 1975. George and Kathy Lutz and their three children had finally found their dream home in 112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, New York. Purchased at a very reasonable price of $80.000, George and Kathy had finally arrived into their new home. Thirteen months earlier a family of six had been murdered by 23-year-old Ronald Defeo, hence the price tag. The events of the previous year were explained by the broker but the Lutz’s were not perturbed in anyway by these events.
The first day
Being a Catholic family, the Lutz’s stuck with the tradition of having their new home blessed. Father Ray, a Catholic priest and friend for many years was more then happy to assist the loving couple. The six bedroom home also had a sewing room where the blessing would begin.
The nightmare begins
Beginning his blessing with holy water, Father Ray suddenly stopped — he could feel a presence behind him. Being told to “get out” in no uncertain terms by the voice, he was then slapped. Shocked and disorientated, he left the house and  told George not to use the sewing room before getting into his car.
Flies from nowhere
Being that they were so busy moving boxes and furniture, George and Kathy didn’t notice the events building up in the sewing room. Their son, seven year-old Christopher, went to clear away the flies he found in there.
“I would kill them with my newspaper and then go back and they would be there again,” Christopher said.
When George finally got around to entering the room he was amazed to see this happening in winter.
“The longer we stayed in the house the more flies there were,” he said afterwards. “I don’t have an explanation as to why they were there, but that’s where they were.”
Strange happenings and the Red Room
Alone at home and with George away and working as a surveyor, Kathy Lutz spent most of her time getting to know her new surroundings. She could feel the presence of a soft hand on her while she was in the kitchen. Not wanting to alarm family about this she proceeded down the basement to discover a small red room. Slowly, but surely, Kathy’s love for her new home was starting to fade.
“It was red and had an odour to it,” she recalled in a later interview. “When our black Labrador, Harry, wouldn’t go near the room, it was more disturbing to us.”
Missy’s imagination or something more sinister?
Just before Christmas Day Missy, the Lutz’s five-year-old daughter, began playing with an imaginary friend called Jodie.
“Do angels talk?” She asked her mom. Not taking much notice of Missy’s question, George proceeded to work on his boat until he looked up at her bedroom window. Seeing sharp red eyes looking down at him, George proceeded to enter Missy’s room to discover her talking by herself to a moving rocking chair.

“There would be no one there except her rocking chair moving by itself.”

Influence growing
The days after Christmas saw a dramatic increase in events. In interviews later the Lutz’s claimed a marching band could be heard downstairs at 3.15am, the same time the Defeo murders had occurred. Reaching the top of the stairs, the sound would stop, black stains would appear on the bathroom fixtures, an epoxy glue substance would come from the keyholes, while banging and scraping could be heared regularly through the night.
The family claimed this was the moment they realised “they were facing real evil”. In an attempt to stop the phenomenon occurring, a blessing was performed throughout the house.
Kathy said afterwards: “When we did that we heared a chorus of voices say to us, ‘will you stop!'”
January 14, 1976
Less than a month into their time in their new home the Lutz’s had reached the end of their tether. Desperate and turned numb by the strange events the family again tried to bring some sanity to their home with another blessing. It failed and it was the last time they ever set foot in 112 Ocean Avenue.
“The children’s beds above me were levitating and crashing to the floor, there was a storm going on in the house, Harry was being sick downstairs, doors were slamming and the marching band could be heared through out the house,” George said.
“We finally left because the house became unlivable, there was no point in staying there any longer.”
Was it a hoax ? Was it a real event?
 Whatever caused Ronald Defeo to kill his family, was there when the Lutzs moved in. As a consequence of the house blessing by Father Ray, it set off a chain of events that eventually forced Kathy and George to leave there home and not come back.
In sympathy of the Lutz’s
It’s hard to imagine that this really is a hoax — I say this because of how much the family had lost through these events, as the house was given back to the bank two months later. The many movies and books that were made did not make George and Kathy wealthy in anyway, even though they had the opportunity to be set for life with their children.
They were given lie detector tests in July 1979 by the most qualified person at the time, and they both passed. They have given few interviews in the decades since, with their very last together in 2001 on the History Channel.
Kathy grew sick with emfazema, but she gave this quote before passing in 2006, a year after her husband’s death: “There is nothing that I can say other than that this is the truth, this is my testimony and yours is just an opinion, and opinion dosent hold water.”

Got memories from the past that you’d like to share, email Phillip Ingham from 'Back in de Day' at [email protected].

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