Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

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daiichi
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Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by daiichi » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:15 am

Back in the '90s during a psychology class in high school, the teacher played the episode of 'In Search of...' from 1980 featuring the Amityville haunting (to dubious academic worth). Looking back, this may have been my first encounter with the story, and it freaked me out a little. (That show in general still kind of freaks me out, with the eerie, retro synthesizer music...)

A particular thing I've noticed about this show in the following years was that it featured an interview with the priest who blessed the house. In the interview he talks about sprinkling holy water in the house and hearing belligerent, demonic voices, and welts on his hands, etc. You all know the story, I'm sure.

But then I heard that in a later court case Father Pecoraro, in an affidavit , said that he never even entered the house and only spoke with the Lutzes by phone.

If this is the case, then who is the guy being interviewed in the 'In Search of...' episode?

I hate to question the journalistic credibility of Leonard Nimoy, but could the priest perhaps have been planted to give the story more impact? If so, it would kind of make sense that the producers obfuscated his identity during the interview.

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DC Fan
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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by DC Fan » Thu Sep 19, 2013 4:05 pm

Welcome.

Father Ralph Pecararo, or Father Ray as he was known to the Lutzes, was an ecclesiastical judge in the Long Island area who had counselled George when he was getting an annulment from his first marriage. His name was changed in the book and in the movie. He is the one appearing on "In Search of". There is no trickery as far as that goes, although you might still choose to not believe his story. The story is that he was transferred to another diocese of unknown location, probably because of the Church not wanting publicity.

In terms of available documentaries, the issue of what testimony he might have given in court is discussed in the That's Incredible episode here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bFmW7tSmmY

As you can see, starting at about 4:30, it is accepted that Father Ray blessed the house and the idea of him testifying that he never experienced any reaction is denied by the producers of the show based on the transcripts. As for people other than the Cromartys making this claim, others have more expertise.

In terms of other issues in this documentary, it has a large weakness of allowing criticisms against the Lutzes based on the work of Jay Anson and Hollywood to go unchallenged when the Lutzes did not make the same claims.

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daiichi
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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by daiichi » Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:55 pm

Thanks for the info, and I agree with your last sentence about the "That's Incredible" episode dealing with the novelization/movie accounts rather than the Lutz's telling of events, with the exception of the red room in the basement (which the Lutzes claimed was hidden behind a bookshelf, but was shown to cameras to be located behind an ordinary door).

The idea that Father Ralph Pecararo was relocated may be plausible, but I never understood the sentiment that the Catholic church wanted to quiet him about this case. I am not a Catholic myself and am not sure what the church's official standing is with paranormal hauntings and the like, but if Father Ray truly believed what he claimed in the "In Search Of..." interview, would this not be an amazing opportunity to reveal to the public that there is proof of an afterlife? I guess what I'm saying is, given that the Catholic church already believes in an afterlife (which they obviously do) and also believe that the spirits of humans can remain to inhabit our world (which I'm not so clear on), then why not support a respected priest and his alleged experiences at the house?

Maybe the church just didn't want to get involved with any of it, but if that's the case then I don't see why not. From what I've seen the church has made some pretty far out claims in regards to miracles over the years, no offense to anyone of course. So why back down from the Amityville case, which so many people already seem to believe?

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Dan the Damned
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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by Dan the Damned » Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:06 pm

The area behind that ordinary door was a regular storage area. The "red room" was the tiny space at the one end of that storage area (which had a moveable shelf in front of it).

The entire storage area wasn't hidden -- just that one tiny space at the end of it (which the girl crawls into at the end of her segment).

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DC Fan
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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by DC Fan » Tue Sep 24, 2013 4:14 pm

daiichi wrote:The idea that Father Ralph Pecararo was relocated may be plausible, but I never understood the sentiment that the Catholic church wanted to quiet him about this case. I am not a Catholic myself and am not sure what the church's official standing is with paranormal hauntings and the like, but if Father Ray truly believed what he claimed in the "In Search Of..." interview, would this not be an amazing opportunity to reveal to the public that there is proof of an afterlife?
I was brought up Roman Catholic. The idea is that people can be possessed, but not houses, and that your soul after death does not remain earthbound. A priest is often a highly educated person in matters other than theology, whether he boasts about it or not, and has the same capacity as the rest of us to be properly skeptical regarding matters falling outside of or contradictory to his articles of faith.

It is true that a great many people in the pews have supernatural beliefs that are contrary to their religion, without thinking about the theological/scriptural implications. This is probably true of all denominations of Christianity. But what would it say about eternal reward/punishment and of God's omnipotence to make it happen if the existence of ghosts, other than Jesus re-appearing, could be established?

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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by scipio-USMC » Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:13 pm

daiichi wrote:Thanks for the info, and I agree with your last sentence about the "That's Incredible" episode dealing with the novelization/movie accounts rather than the Lutz's telling of events, with the exception of the red room in the basement (which the Lutzes claimed was hidden behind a bookshelf, but was shown to cameras to be located behind an ordinary door).

The idea that Father Ralph Pecararo was relocated may be plausible, but I never understood the sentiment that the Catholic church wanted to quiet him about this case.
He requested a transfer to a different diocese allegedly because of the attention he was getting. Subsequent to his transfer he gave up ministering though which leads me to believe something else was at work. We have no way of knowing what kind of emotional or mental problems he faced.

daiichi wrote:I am not a Catholic myself and am not sure what the church's official standing is with paranormal hauntings and the like, but if Father Ray truly believed what he claimed in the "In Search Of..." interview, would this not be an amazing opportunity to reveal to the public that there is proof of an afterlife? I guess what I'm saying is, given that the Catholic church already believes in an afterlife (which they obviously do) and also believe that the spirits of humans can remain to inhabit our world (which I'm not so clear on), then why not support a respected priest and his alleged experiences at the house?

Maybe the church just didn't want to get involved with any of it, but if that's the case then I don't see why not. From what I've seen the church has made some pretty far out claims in regards to miracles over the years, no offense to anyone of course. So why back down from the Amityville case, which so many people already seem to believe?
First of all there is no official stance on hauntings. It is speculated that maybe some spirits are stuck on the way to the afterlife for unknown reasons but there is no official stance. As DC pointed out the Church DOES believe in demonic possession. Exorcisms are performed to try to cast demons from humans who are possessed. He is absolutley right that the Church believes in demonic possession of humans not objects.

That brings us to a problem. The Church was not asked to perform an exorcism of any of the Lutzes. Rather a priest supposedly told the Lutzes that they need to leave the place and their possessions behind. This is not grounded in any Church teachings that the house or any objects on the property would be possessed and needed to be left behind. IF the priest did say such then it was not Church based and he was saying it perhaps because he thought mentally it would help ease their minds (like a sugar pill does to people). They were not Catholic so maybe he just was trying to placate Lutz. Maybe he didn't actually advise such, we don't really know for sure. We just have Lutze's claim that this is what he was told to do.

Anyway to recap Demoic posession of people yes, of places no. The Bible contains a chapter where Jesus drove a demon out of someone. That is the basis of the belief that demonic possession exists and the foundation for exorcism. People first must have a mental evaluation twhich normally results in a finding of mental impairment. Those rare cases when mental impariment is not found is when exorcisms can be performed. There are certin requirments such as getting permission of the local Bishop and so forth before a minister can perform an exorcism and it can't be a lay person contrary to common belief.

scipio-USMC
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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by scipio-USMC » Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:15 pm

Dan the Damned wrote:The area behind that ordinary door was a regular storage area. The "red room" was the tiny space at the one end of that storage area (which had a moveable shelf in front of it).

The entire storage area wasn't hidden -- just that one tiny space at the end of it (which the girl crawls into at the end of her segment).
I get so sick of this stupid red room. When I was young there was an after school special with a ghost in a bottle in the wall and it was let out. You woudl think that is what happened int he red room you hear about it so much. I can't think of a bigger red herring than the red room.

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Dan the Damned
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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by Dan the Damned » Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:07 pm

In what way do you see the red room as being a red herring? (Aside from them both being red?) :P

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Vlad
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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by Vlad » Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:56 pm

daiichi wrote:Back in the '90s during a psychology class in high school, the teacher played the episode of 'In Search of...' from 1980 featuring the Amityville haunting (to dubious academic worth). Looking back, this may have been my first encounter with the story, and it freaked me out a little. (That show in general still kind of freaks me out, with the eerie, retro synthesizer music...)
Tell me about it! Between the grain and color of the unrestored 70's film stock, those weird synthesizer sounds and Nimoy's moody narration, that show still gives me willies, even when the subjects are relatively prosaic!
daiichi wrote:I hate to question the journalistic credibility of Leonard Nimoy
You can't blame Nimoy for the sometimes dubious elements of the show. He didn't do any of the actual investigation, nor did he write any of the scripts. He was just the host and narrator. He probably didn't believe even half the claims on the show.

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daiichi
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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by daiichi » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:28 am

Vlad wrote:
Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:56 pm
You can't blame Nimoy for the sometimes dubious elements of the show. He didn't do any of the actual investigation, nor did he write any of the scripts. He was just the host and narrator. He probably didn't believe even half the claims on the show.
Yeah, you're probably right. The producers of the show did cover some pretty wild subjects, such as Bigfoot, Swamp Monsters, and the Oak Island Money Pit (one of my favorites!). At the end of the day, Spock needed a paycheck. One has to wonder how much of it he actually believed in himself, and how much was simply a job.

To circle back to the original topic, part of me wonders why Father Ray even appeared on the show in the first place, if he was trying to avoid attention. This episode of "In Search of..." was actually released in October 1979, so likely the filming of the episode occurred after the release of the popular film. So then why appear on a sensationalist show like this, if he's trying to avoid attention. Why not simply decline the invitation?

The cynic in me thinks that perhaps the producers found some random guy (hence why his face is obscured) and had him stand in for Father Ray. And voila! An "exclusive interview". :clap:

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DC Fan
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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by DC Fan » Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:23 am

daiichi wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:28 am
To circle back to the original topic, part of me wonders why Father Ray even appeared on the show in the first place, if he was trying to avoid attention. This episode of "In Search of..." was actually released in October 1979, so likely the filming of the episode occurred after the release of the popular film. So then why appear on a sensationalist show like this, if he's trying to avoid attention. Why not simply decline the invitation?

The cynic in me thinks that perhaps the producers found some random guy (hence why his face is obscured) and had him stand in for Father Ray. And voila! An "exclusive interview". :clap:
You make a good point here but I believe it is him in the show. It fits a pattern. This is not the only mysterious thing about Father Ray. As Scipio pointed out earlier, his advice to the Lutzes about only taking certain possessions out of the house is not Catholic teaching. I suspect Father Ray was doing his own dabbling in the occult.

And that also speaks to another subject of people trying to refute the Quaratino claim that George triggered the problem through his occult practices. Why then, they ask, would Father Ray have a problem on moving day? Maybe because Father Ray was every bit as bad if not worse. But I digress.

The fact that the Lutzes have stated that he did tell them why they should not use the sewing room as a bedroom without saying why not and that they only learned of what happened to him afterward through Jay Anson leads me to suspect that he may have exaggerated his story after the events started going public. I can see not telling them right then and there with the kids potentially within earshot but he was in contact with them by phone afterward and was the one who asked why they didn't leave when they were having so many problems. He could have told the Lutzes himself or just took the secret to his grave if it was all true as he said it.

I suspect he did want the attention, at least from a show that he knew would be sympathetic to his claims.

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DC Fan
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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by DC Fan » Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:37 am

DC Fan wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:23 am
As Scipio pointed out earlier, his advice to the Lutzes about only taking certain possessions out of the house is not Catholic teaching. I suspect Father Ray was doing his own dabbling in the occult.

And that also speaks to another subject of people trying to refute the Quaratino claim that George triggered the problem through his occult practices. Why then, they ask, would Father Ray have a problem on moving day? Maybe because Father Ray was every bit as bad if not worse.
Now that I'm on the subject, does anyone know how George and Father Ray met each other? We know it was not through Kathy despite her being the original Catholic. Do we know that it was not through that Buckland guy who ran an occult bookstore?

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Brendan72
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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by Brendan72 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:38 am

It was through the course of George having his first marriage (prior to Kathy) annulled. I assume because the Catholic Church frowned on divorce there was a process through the Church as well as the courts. Father Pecararo was an ecclesiastical judge with the Catholic Church and contacted George first by phone and then invited him to meet in person to discuss the annulment.

I may have missed a thing or two but this information above was based on numerous interviews George did through the years.
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DC Fan
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Re: Who is the Priest in the 1980 'In Search of...' Show?

Post by DC Fan » Tue Aug 13, 2019 11:03 am

Brendan72 wrote:
Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:38 am
It was through the course of George having his first marriage (prior to Kathy) annulled. I assume because the Catholic Church frowned on divorce there was a process through the Church as well as the courts. Father Pecararo was an ecclesiastical judge with the Catholic Church and contacted George first by phone and then invited him to meet in person to discuss the annulment.

I may have missed a thing or two but this information above was based on numerous interviews George did through the years.
Thanks anyway Brendan but I meant how did they meet and why. I already know this story. George continued to be Methodist at that time. I take George's story as meaning that he just happened to know Father Ray at that time. Why would he consult the Church as opposed to consulting Father Ray? Until he intends on marrying a Catholic in a Catholic church, there is no reason to consult the Catholic church and it would logically have been Kathy to make contact with her local priest (not Father Ray) to arrange it.

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