The Amityville horror: The boy who lived in the true-life haunted house breaks his 40-year silence.
- The house where the Lutzes in Long Island lived was site of mass murder
- Family lasted only 28 days in the haunted house in 1976
- Daniel Lutz, who was 10 at the time of the ordeal, insists it was true
- Reclusive Lutz has agreed to relive his ordeal for a new documentary
First there were the flies, a plague of them that, even in December, swarmed inside the imposing clapboard house as George and Kathy Lutz were unpacking their belongings.
Then there were the cold spots in rooms and hallways, the odd smells of perfume or excrement and the jolting sounds at night.
George became increasingly volatile and would wake at the same time — 3.15am, a time that would later assume a sinister significance.
Other disturbances were far more terrifying: objects that flew across the room, walls oozing green slime, the crucifix that turned upside down on the wall, the hidden red room in the basement and — who can forget — the glowing eyes at night of some demonic, pig-like creature.
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As for the Catholic priest who came to bless the house, the site of a mass murder only 13 months earlier, the Lutzes only found out later he had heard a voice tell him to ‘Get out!’ as he sprinkled holy water in a bedroom — the one he told the couple that no one should sleep in.
By then, they had fled in terror with Mrs Lutz’s three young children from a previous marriage, taking little more than the clothes they were wearing.
It was January 14, 1976. They had lasted just 28 days inside 112 Ocean Avenue, a rambling house in the Long Island town of Amityville, 30 miles from New York City.
They never returned, but the Amityville Horror, as their story became known, has come back to haunt — or at the very least, intrigue — us with the decision by one of the children to break their 37-year silence about what happened.
Daniel Lutz, a ten-year-old boy at the time but now a spooky-looking, middle-aged man with deep-set, piercing blue eyes and an unsettling smile, insists he was menaced by spirits in the house and that his family’s stay there has ruined his life.
And he blames the evil presence on his stepfather George, a man whose occult dabblings, says Daniel, opened the gateway to dark forces he couldn’t control.
The six-bedroom house, with swimming pool and boathouse, was meant to be their dream home and was aptly named High Hopes. Instead, it turned into a nightmare.
Their experience in those four weeks was turned into a best-selling book, , and a 1979 hit movie of the same name.
The notoriety of America’s ‘most haunted house’ has since spawned an entire industry of books and documentaries, not to mention 11 Hollywood sequels and remakes, including two due to come out next year.
But what really happened inside that house has remained hotly contested for years as the Lutzes — both in their 30s at the time — became embroiled in legal battles that reinforced the notion they were just in it for the money.
Sceptics immediately cast doubt on the story, and it emerged Mr Lutz, a land surveyor, couldn’t really afford the house, even at its knockdown price of $80,000 (£53,000). Perhaps they had fled the property for reasons other than evil spirits.
The suspicions seemed confirmed when, just before the 1979 film came out, local lawyer William Weber claimed he had dreamt up the story with the Lutzes ‘over many bottles of wine’.
The lawyer had defended 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo, who had shot dead his parents and four younger siblings in the same house 13 months before the Lutzes arrived. DeFeo, who was jailed for life, claimed he had heard them plotting to kill him. The murders were thought to have been committed at around 3.15am.
Weber — who had fallen out with the Lutzes over money — claimed he had passed detailed information about the murders to the couple who then weaved it into their fantasy account — in which, for instance, the neighbour’s cat became a pig-like demon that left cloven hoof prints in the snow. But the couple always stuck to their story, even if they conceded that some details had been exaggerated or invented by the media.
Take the ‘red room’, for example — a small, red painted room, around 4ft-by-5ft, that George Lutz discovered behind shelving in the basement.
The room was not mentioned in the building plans and the Lutz’s labrador cross, Harry, refused to go near it, cowering in fear. But previous tenants insisted it had simply been used for storage.
Nor did the Lutzes take what might have seemed obvious steps to verify their story. For example, they never took samples of the mysterious, gelatinous green slime that apparently oozed from the walls and through the keyhole of the playroom door in the attic.
Yet, inconveniently for the cynics, George and Kathy both passed a lie detector test.
VIDEO My Amityville Horror trailer (NOTE: Adult content)
This post was written by Nadia Vella