Despite Being the Subject of a Sensational Horror Film, The Haunting in Amityville was Simply a Hoax

Fraud and hoaxes that eventually lead to money and fame causes the evil that lies in the heart of the individual to emerge. People will go to extreme lengths for fame and fortune. This human instinct is exactly what caused Ronald DeFeo and the Lutz family to deceive the public into believing that paranormal activities occurred in their Amityville home. However, the devil or any other evil spirits did not possess the Amityville House, at 112 Ocean Avenue.

On the chilling day of Wednesday, November 14th 1974, Ronald DeFeo Jr. brutally shot his father, mother, and four siblings while they were sleeping. The police arrived the next afternoon to discover the six bodies lying in their beds. DeFeo seemed to be upset and disturbed by his family’s death. After the crime scene and evidence had been collected, DeFeo’s testimony didn’t quite add up. DeFeo reported to the police that he had stayed up until two in the morning, watching TV. He reportedly left for work very early the next morning because he couldn’t sleep. He claimed they must have been murdered sometime during the afternoon while he was at work.  Interestingly, the family were all still in their bedclothes, indicating that the murder didn’t take place in the afternoon as DeFeo had reported.  As expected, the autopsies showed that the murders had to have taken place between two and four in the morning, meaning that DeFeo was in the house at the time of the murders (Lynott online).

As more evidence about the crime was collected, the police began to focus on the possibility of DeFeo killing his family. Eventually, DeFeo cracked and confessed to the murders of his family. Although, he also stated that he heard voices that forced him to kill his family. Not surprisingly, he pleaded guilty by insanity at his trial. He was found guilty of six counts of second-degree murder and sentenced to twenty-five years to life in prison (Lynott online).

About thirteen months later, George and Kathy Lutz and their three children moved into 112 Ocean Avenue. From the very first night in their new home, the Lutz’s supposedly experienced many strange and unexplainable events. George Lutz began to hear similar voices similar to the ones described by DeFeo a year earlier. He claimed he was being told to murder his family (Osuna online).  As the unexplained events became worse and more frequent, the Lutz family became more and more afraid. After twenty-eight days of living in the house, the family fled in terror, bringing with them only a few belongings (Lutz online). This would lead to the Amityville house being one of the most popular haunted houses in America (Osuna online).

As of 1997, Brian Wilson has inhabited the Amityville home. He has renovated and changed the address in an attempt to avoid tourists. Wilson and his family are living there happily without any problems from the paranormal. Their only wish is that the public would stop gathering outside of their home. They aren’t the only family to have made it through their residence at the Amityville house without strange occurrences. The Moynahan family, consisting of six people, lived by the Amity creek in 112 Ocean Avenue for more than five years (Osuna online).  If the Amityville home were indeed possessed by evil spirits, all of the families would have had similar problems during the time they lived at the house. However, the DeFeo and Lutz families are the only ones who heard voices in the house.

The DeFeo family was far from perfect. The children lived in constant fear and hate for their father and his extreme temper and rage. The eldest son, Ronald DeFeo Jr., received the most negative attention from his father. He was constantly told to stand up for himself, which he later would. DeFeo obviously inherited his father’s trait of being outrageously violent. One night, months before the murder, DeFeo pulled a gun on his father and threatened to kill him. He even pulled the trigger. Fortunately, the gun jammed and his father’s life was spared, for the time being (Lynott online). DeFeo’s extreme hatred of his family made it easy for him to hunt them down in their beds that cold November night. He’d pulled the trigger on his father once, making it easy for him to do it a second time.

It is no secret that DeFeo was an avid drug user. He has admitted to using illegal drugs such as LSD and heroin (Osuna online). LSD is a hallucinogen that causes the user to feel many different emotions. LSD can mess up the users perceptive on time and often causes people to see and hear things that aren’t actually there (NIDA online). This certainly clarifies the reasoning behind DeFeo hearing voices in the house. If DeFeo had been taking LSD or heroin the night of the murder, as was reported, he more than likely would have thought that he heard and saw things that weren’t actually present. 

            George and Kathy Lutz had just recently been married upon moving into the Amityville house. They had very little money and were at first skeptical about moving into such a big home. They couldn’t pass up such a great deal on the enormous house, despite its horrible history (Osuna online).

The family soon realized what sort of situation they were in by being residents of the Amityville house. People would love to hear stories about a house that was truly haunted with evil spirits. So they played off of DeFeo’s original testimony of hearing voices in the house. All they had to do was make up some elaborate story of a haunting and voices in their house similar to the ones that DeFeo had claimed to hear. The story was an instant success. News reporters and the media thrived on the story. Jay Anson wrote a book describing the family’s experiences. The book, The Amityville Horror, sold more than three million copies. Later, the book was made into a movie. The Amityville Horror movie grossed more than $80 million dollars. The Lutz family willingly agreed to help promote the movie and the book. They received money for interviews conducted and even a portion of the book and films profit (Osuna online). The Lutz family had everything that they had wanted. They had achieved fame and fortune.

However, as DeFeo’s trial continued, his story changed. He claimed that his defense attorney, William Weber, had actually told him to lie about the voices. DeFeo himself states, “Amityville was a hoax that Weber and the Lutz’s started. Yes, to make money. It started as my trial was in progress” (Osuna online). Weber had told DeFeo that he could get him out of jail in two to three years if he pleaded insanity and said he had heard voices. Eventually, after Weber and DeFeo’s plan backfired, and nobody bought the idea of insanity, DeFeo refused to continue to play along. The Lutz family however, refused to give into their story and continued to make money off of it by claiming it was haunted (Lynott online).

Eventually, after the Lutz’s greed grew more and more, they dropped Webber in an effort to receive more portions of money for themselves. He had been receiving parts of the profits. After this incident, Webber changed his story to state that, “I know this book is a hoax. We created it over many bottles of wine” (Osuna online). Now two people directly involved with the stories had admitted to making it up. This left only the Lutz’s, who held strong to their story. However, of course they would. They were making a fortune off of the haunting story.

DeFeo was a drug-addicted man who hated his family. His hatred eventually led to their murder. The Lutz family had been overcome by the greed within their hearts. The Amityville Horror story is full of lies, deceit, and self-indulgence. It was true events twisted into something it wasn’t. People put themselves out on a limb in order to achieve the ultimate goal of fame and fortune. There is too much evidence denying the validity of the haunting story.  Stories were changed, people lied, and rumors began. Obviously, the Amityville Horror stories are all a hoax.