Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Amityville Horror

Location:   Amityville, New York
Year:   1974

Ronald "Butch" DeFeo, Jr. murdered six members of his immediate family in their beds on the night of November 13, 1974. DeFeo's motives have never been clearly understood, and his story has changed numerous times---at one point he claimed the killings were a mob hit against his mafia-connected father, while at other times he claimed that his sister Dawn and his mother (both also killed) each had a hand in the killings and that their deaths were an act of self-defense. Yet at other times he has tried to make an issue of his mental health. 

Butch was tried and convicted of the murders on November 21, 1975, and is serving six concurrent 25-to-life sentences at Greenhaven Correctional Facility, in Beekman, N.Y.

As brutal and gory as the murders in the Dutch farmhouse-style house at 112 Ocean Avenue were, they would probably have been reduced to a footnote in penal history had not George and Kathy Lutz  bought the house and resided there at the end of 1975 and the beginning of 1976. The Lutzes had paranormal imaginations, and claimed that all kinds of  mysterious, unexplainable, and florid activities occurred in the house that forced them to quickly vacate the property. A series of novels and eleven movies based on their reported experiences have fattened their bank accounts, cemented the house's sinister reputation, milked hundreds of millions of dollars from gullible people, and annoyed the hell out of the neighbors for a generation now.

Back in the 1970s, I was approached by a carload of yokels from some Midwestern State asking if my home was the Amityville Horror House. I explained that they were lost: "You're looking for Ocean Avenue in Amityville. This is Ocean Avenue in Massapequa. This is the Massapequa Horror House."  Confused and crestfallen they got back into their motorized haycart and headed off to irritate people in the next town. Oh yeah, and the movies make good fireplace kindling.

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