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In Remembrance



For better or worse, The Amityville Horror is always in the news. The book itself was a runaway bestseller when it first appeared in 1977 selling 10 million copies. A few years later, in 1979, the film version inevitably arrived and it too was a box office success ($86 million). In fact it proved to be the most profitable indie [i.e. non-studio] film to have ever been produced. Since that time a veritable cottage industry has grown up around the Amityville case. Hollywood soon discovered that the word “Amityville” meant money, and spared no pains in producing a series of bogus spinoffs that bore no relation to the actual facts in the case. While the original movie was principally accurate, the subsequent productions, the spinoffs, were really nothing more than cartoons that deserve to be ignored.
A few years ago MGM released an entirely new version of the film, which was rather more intense and frightening than the first. That latest rendition sought to introduce a whole new generation of people to one of the most incredible cases of spirit phenomena to ever occur in the United States. Concomitant with its re-release however came the same old bogus controversy as to whether the event ever happened at all.

The Business Of Controversy

There's money in being contrary and when it comes to Amityville a small but vocal cult has turned denial of this case into a fine art. The so-called 'controversy', which has already erupted, is entirely artificial and being acted out by a bunch of shady characters - primarily grumps and atheists - who have a very big ax to grind. Their principal objective is to cash in on the publicity that the movie generates. As a result you have a rather vicious group of naysayers - all unfamiliar with the theological evidence behind the case - vigorously insisting that the event never happened. They write articles and nit-pick details, but accomplish nothing, other than to get their names in the paper. Which is their objective of course. Pay attention to their comments at your own peril. Virtually every one of them was excluded from the original investigation by both the police and the church and base their denials on "facts" garnered from secondary sources and street-corner witnesses. In fact some of the most vociferous critics are long dead, and the arguments against Amityville are actually being carried out by proxies or interest groups who stand to gain by keeping the pot stirred. So much for conviction.
Then you have the atheist crowd, who come out of the woodwork whenever any mystical event gets taken seriously. They bellow just as loud. They say the Amityville case is a lie. They say the whole thing was cooked up for a profit. In fact they say just about anything. But most especially they say, Don't see the movie. That's because, deep down, the outbreak in Amityville was in fact a serious religious event, and they don't want you to know it. Why? The answer is simple. Belief in spirits implies a belief in God, and their sole purpose is to cause people not to believe in God. Seeing the movie thus jeopardizes their position. Pretty transparent but that's the way it is. One should therefore be wary of both the grumps and atheists who want your attention on this one: they have an agenda, and that agenda is an extremely devious one. They desperately want to raise doubt in people's minds. They want you to take your eye off the ball and pay attention to them - not to the gravity of the Amityville message.


So What's The Real Story?

During the production of The Demonologist the author had occasion to speak, first-hand, with all the principals in the case. The story they told was a grave one, and few of those details ever made it into either the book or movie. Phenomena, for example, was not confined simply to the infamous house on Ocean Avenue where the actual haunting took place. All the psychics and all the clergy involved in the investigation - many of whom lived over a hundred miles away from the Amityville site - received extremely threatening visitations in either their homes or offices from impious entities long after the Lutz family fled the premises. The offending entities performed very pronounced, repeated attacks on these people ranging from heart stoppages and bloody slashings to bold physical manifestations in the middle of the night. The phenomena, furthermore, was always accompanied by a two word message. The message delivered was: "Go Away".
Hurt and harm was visited upon everyone concerned with the case. For many the effects were permanent. The author later sat, for example, with one of the lead psychics in the Amityville investigation at her home in Willimantic, Connecticut. Her name was Alberta Riley - a distinguished Englishwoman and deep trance medium. Already middle-aged, Mrs. Riley had spent her whole life in this work. She'd seen a lot. Not much could shake her. But the woman I spoke with, though poised and attractive, was deeply affected. Whatever it was that she saw in Amityville had frightened her to the base of her being. "I saw things I never knew existed, things I never thought could exist in this universe", she told me. So shaken was she, cosmically, that the Amityville case had caused her -right then and there - to give up her profession as a psychic. "I don't want to know any more," she said adamantly. "This has been enough. My attention now goes to God."

The Hoax Word

Then there's the one about George Lutz staging the whole event as a hoax. Sure. Here was a guy who had just spent twenty-eight days in what was arguably the most haunted house in the world, yet he basically didn't know what had happened. Others had to explain it to him. Like most people, he and his wife Kathy knew absolutely nothing about spirit phenomena. Yet both reeled off a litany of bizarre experiences that they'd had, but were clueless as to the cause. In fact George Lutz didn't even care about the cause. When this author spoke with him not long after the case erupted, he was upset and angry over practical things. He was upset because he'd invested every cent he had in a house that was now sitting empty, while he was slowly going bankrupt. And he was angry because he had been driven out of that house by something so foolish as 'spirits'. What he really wanted to do, from the bottom of his heart, was to move back in, take command of the place, and make good on his investment. In time, of course, he came to realize this wouldn't happen. Under no circumstances, however, did this essentially ordinary guy put on a show, then with the collusion of his young family, evacuate the house, go live in a rundown motel, and wait around for years for some no-name author to come along and write a book about the experience that never paid him a cent and would plunge him into lawsuits that'd last for decades. It just didn't happen. That was not his plan. There was no plan.
While critics are content to dwell on inconsistencies in the Amityville novel, the principals who participated in the case instead dwell on far deeper things. "What was in that house can never be explained," says Lorraine Warren. "What we encountered was a true spirit of perdition. It knew all our vulnerabilities and it went after them. It tried, and it tried very hard, to ruin our lives. It even tried to physically kill us. So when I think of Amityville, I don't just think of what happened to George and Kathy Lutz. I also think of what happened afterwards. Because once it was done with the Lutzes this thing came after us. We became the new threat. We became the new threat because we were working with the church. Our work in Amityville was not to satisfy the media's curiousity; our work was to justify the need for an exorcism. That's why we were attacked: to prevent us from succeeding in our work. So when someone says, 'The Amityville case isn't real', I feel insulted. I know it's real. I lived it. And I still live with it today."

Who to believe? Those who were there, or those who have an ax to grind?
No book or movie will satisfy that question.
Yet, in truth, a definitive record does exist.
It exists in the diocesan archives in Rockville Center.
It exists because its priests were assigned to the case.
Its priests were attacked and brutalized by the very spirits that brought forth the havoc. Their experiences, their testimony, fully exists as a matter of record. That record is secret. It will never be revealed. It will never even be acknowledged. But it is there, and has become part of that long unhappy chronicle of events the Church files under the eternally auspicious category known as the Mysterium Iniquitatis.

© 2003-2017

1976 Photograph of the Amityville House

The Amityville story has pretty much become old hat. Hollywood has made its millions out of it so what basically remains is a lot of
confusing chatter that we've all heard before. For those who nevertheless want to pursue the matter, here a few useful links:


LAS VEGAS -- George ''Lee" Lutz, whose brief stay in an Amityville, N.Y., house spawned one of the most famous haunted house stories ever, has died of natural causes. He was 59. Mr. Lutz, a Las Vegas resident, died on May 8, 2006, his lawyer, Larry Zerner of Los Angeles said. The Clark County coroner listed the cause as heart disease. Lutz, a former land surveyor, became famous after moving his new bride and three children into a Dutch colonial house on Long Island in 1975. About a year earlier, six members of the DeFeo family had been shot and killed in the house. Ronald DeFeo Jr., the eldest son, was later convicted of those mur- ders. The Lutzes lived in the house for 28 days before being driven out. The family's eerie tales became the source for Jay Anson's 1977 book, ''The Amityville Horror," along with a 1979 film. The book and movies chronicled horrors that include visions of walls oozing blood, furniture that moves, and a visit from a demonic pig named Jodie. The franchise made a cult figure of Mr. Lutz, who some claimed bore a likeness to Ronald DeFeo. He passionately defended himself against those who accused him of intentionally moving into the house to profit from the DeFeo murders. The Amityville tale and the rights to profit from it led to a tangle of litigation involving the Lutzes, publishers, and others. After fleeing the home and abandoning their possessions, the Lutzes moved to San Diego, briefly selling Amway products. His former wife, Kathy Lutz, died of emphysema on August 17, 2004. The couple were divorced in the late 1980s.

© The Associated Press