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

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:15 am
by daiichi
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.

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

Posted: Thu Sep 19, 2013 4:05 pm
by DC Fan
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.

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

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 12:55 pm
by daiichi
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?

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

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 1:06 pm
by Dan the Damned
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).

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

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 4:14 pm
by DC Fan
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?

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

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:13 pm
by scipio-USMC
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.

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

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 6:15 pm
by scipio-USMC
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.

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

Posted: Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:07 pm
by Dan the Damned
In what way do you see the red room as being a red herring? (Aside from them both being red?) :P

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

Posted: Tue Oct 29, 2013 5:56 pm
by Vlad
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.