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The Amityville Horror: Interview with George Lutz

30 years after the incident, most people are under the impression
that the haunting that occurred in Amityville was a hoax... but was it?

Article By Tim Yancey

On October 24, 2003 I stepped off a 'red-eye' flight to State College Airport, and into a cold Pennsylvania night.

Waiting to meet me was my good friend Lou Gentile, the host of a nationally syndicated radio program that deals with paranormal phenomenon known as 'The Lou Gentile Show'. At his side was John Zaffis - nephew of famed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, a man who has spent a lifetime wrapped deep in the Amityville haunting, as well as many other intriguing investigations into the paranormal realm. After collecting my luggage we headed out to the waiting van where George Lutz awaited the group. Apparently... he still doesn't deal with cold temperatures too well.

George Lutz is a friendly, stout former Ex-marine, who immediately offered his handshake as we all tumbled into the van and out of the cold night air. I had talked with George a few times on the phone, and remarked it was nice to meet him in person finally. "We'll see if you still feel that way later", he remarked, a sly grin on his face. I would soon learn that humor is a big part of Lutz's psyche. Lutz is gifted with a soft, almost self-deprecating sense of humor... he would later remark that "humor is one of the greatest things we have to defend ourselves against negative energy". George presents himself as a quiet, almost shy person who doesn't want to attract attention... during various conversations with convention goers, he was soft spoken and often turned the conversation away from Amityville.

The four of us had all gathered together at Penn State University as part of "Penn State UNIV-CON II", a paranormal convention hosted by the Penn State Paranormal Research Society. They had invited Lou Gentile to host a live three hour radio show during the convention, and he had asked George Lutz and John Zaffis to appear as his guests. I would fill the role of audio engineer, recording the show for later broadcast. The topic of course, would be the events that occurred to George Lutz and his family during their 28 day stay in the most famous haunted house of all time.

I had heard George Lutz talk about Amityville before - he had appeared on Gentile's show in the past, the first interviews he had done publically in over 20 years talking about the haunting that occurred to him and his family. But I looked forward to having the opportunity to see into his eyes as he related the story... to watch how he reacted as he talked about the incredible events that Lutz maintains are true to this day. I thought this would be my only chance to see if George Lutz was telling the truth.. to find out if his story rang true.

After all, there is no actual evidence that this haunting occurred... or so I thought. GeorgeLutz did bring evidence, in fact Lutz has more evidence to prove the Amityville haunting occurred than other famous cases I had looked at, like the 'Bell Witch', or the Smurl haunting. More on that later.

Lutz's testimony of what happened during those 28 days are horrific to most... but actually quite common when compared to most haunting cases. Many other violent hauntings are actually more sensational in terms of the phenomenon occurring - during the 'Enfield Poltergeist' case, the spirit is credited with manifesting many voices which would talk out loud to investigators. Chairs and furniture would shift about in front of police officers and investigators.

At the height of the 'Bell Witch' haunting, the family was assaulted endlessly by rappings and poundingsthroughout the house. The family would be physically assaulted and accosted time and time again. Eventually, the 'Bell Witch' was credited with killing it's intended victim, John Bell.

During the Smurl haunting, black shadowy figures terrorized the family. Why did the Amityville haunting, which didn't appear as sensational... garner such attention and opposition, and cries of 'hoax'? The skeptics demanded 'proof'... but is there actual proof for anything paranormal in nature?

From the very beginning, it was obvious that many enthusiasts of the 'hoax' theory used the book and movie to garner information about the haunting. Most people realize in modern times that movies have a way of using literary license, and often over-dramatize or even create totally fictional scenes. It became such a problem that the phrase 'based on true events', is now standard opening monologue. When enthusiasts compared the book and movie versions to the Lutz's telling of the events... things didn't add up.

Funny part is - George Lutz will be the first person to tell you that some of the events portrayed in the book and movie aren't factual.

Strange and tragic events were happening in the Amityville Home long before the Lutz's moved in. Prior to the Lutz's purchase of the house, Ronald Defeo Jr. tragically murdered his entire family, while they slept peacefully in their beds on the night of November 13, 1974. Armed with a .35 Caliber Marlin rifle, Defeo Jr. moved from room to room... eight shots fired in all. Later, Defeo Jr. would make varying statements to officials; the mob did it. His sister did it. Then he said he did it in self-defense.

At one point, after confessing to the murders, he claimed to have heard voices telling him to commit the murders. He also claimed to have seen dark shadowy figures moving about he house, and talked about how a pair of dark, black hands handed him the rifle that night.

Police found all of the victims lying face down in their beds - it seems apparent that none of the family heard any of the gunshots. None of the neighbors around the home heard any of the shots either. Today, Ronald remains in prison at the Greehaven Correctional Facility, where he is serving six consecutive life term sentences for the crime.

The night that George Lutz was to appear in front of the Penn State crowd, he spoke softly as he related the events that occurred at 112 Ocean Avenue.

George and Kathy Lutz were married the previous July, both of them owning separate houses at the time. Now together as a family, The Lutz's began to look for a new home for the new marriage. The plan was to sell the two houses they already occupied, and use the funds garnered to purchase a dwelling large enough for George and Kathy, and her three children. They put their homes up on the market... Kathy's sold first, and her and the kids then moved into Georges home in Deer Park.

George and Kathy spent much of the Summer touring prospective new homes with no luck. They had already looked at over 50 potential houses, when the realtor told them about the home at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville.

The Lutz's were made aware of the tragic events that occurred to the previous owners... "The realtor eventually told us what had happened in the house... that six family members had been murdered there and asked us if that made a difference, if we were still interested in looking at the home. The kids didn't seem to have any reservations about whether to at least look at the house, and so we went through it. Afterwards, we had quite a discussion as a family a couple of different times, about whether or not we should still consider buying the house". The Lutz's concluded that the prior murders that had occurred in the home didn't appear to have an affect on their children, so they agreed to at least tour the property.

"As soon As Kathy had walked into the house, she had a smile on her face that just beamed. That hadn't happened in all the previous homes we looked at... I knew from the look on her face, that this was to be our dream home." George recalls.

The house was on the market for around $100,000. The home included 4,000 square feet of waterfront property, complete with a boathouse and garage. It also included a heated swimming pool in the back yard, and a full basement. "It was pretty much everything we were looking for in a home, and it was at a price that we could afford, if they were willing to take the offer that we were willing to make".

The Lutz's made an offer of $80,000... which was accepted. George had an excellent credit rating, the first bank they applied for a mortgage from accepted their application for $60,000 right away. So they put down the $20,000 cash down payment on their 'dream home', and made arrangements to start moving in.

The first impression that the Lutz's felt of the home can best be described as 'charming', it was well constructed, and everything about the house was exactly what they had hoped for, but unusual events began occurring almost from the moment they arrived.

Next: Moving Day at 112 Ocean Avenue