The True Story Behind ‘The Amityville Horror’

February 19, 2015

Written by Kelli Marchman McNeely

Kelli Marchman McNeely is the owner of She is an Executive Producer of "13 Slays Till Christmas" which is out on Digital and DVD and now streaming on Tubi. She has several other films in the works. Kelli is an animal lover and a true horror addict since the age of 9 when she saw Friday the 13th. Email:

In 1979 a movie was released titled ‘The Amityville Horror’, that became an instant horror classic, this is the true story that inspired that supernatural masterpiece. The fact that the movie is based on a true story only adds to the sense of terror.



‘The Amityville Horror’ movie follows a newly wed couple who move into a house with their with their family. The Lutz family, George and Kathy and their three children, bought the house for a steal due to the fact that the previous family,the DeFeos, were brutally murdered in the home. Soon after moving in the Lutz family begin experiencing strange things. George becomes unhinged and things only get worse when he discovers a hidden room in the basement.



The true story begins with the DeFeo family, the owners before the Lutz family, who lived in the house at 112 Ocean Avenue in Amityville, New York. On Thursday, November 13, 1974 at 3:15 am, 23 year old Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr. took his father’s shot gun and systematically wiped out his family beginning with his parents, then moved on to his two younger brothers before shooting his two younger sisters. Butch cleaned himself up and left his family laying in their beds as he drove to Brooklyn and disposed of his bloody clothes in a storm drain, then went on to work at his grandfather’s Buick dealership as usual. At the end of the day he returned to the house, then went to the local bar and walked in screaming that his family had been murdered. The bartender called the police and reported the murders. The scene was soon mobbed by police, reporters and on lookers. All five bodies were found face down in their beds, with no signs of struggle, killed by shot gun blasts, leaving Butch the only surviving member of the family.



The next day an officer found a box of shot gun shells and the murder weapon in Butch’s bedroom. On November 15 Butch was taken in for questioning about the murders. He tried to blame the murders on his friend Louis Falini. After further interrogation Butch incriminated himself. Eventually he confessed that he had committed the murders alone.

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On October 14, 1975 Butch went to trail, charged with six counts of murder. Butch’s lawyer, William Weber, tried to get him off on an insanity defense however the jury and judge didn’t buy it. On November 19, 1975 the jury returned with a guilty verdicts on all six counts of second degree murder. Two weeks later he was sentenced to twenty-five years to life. Today, he remains in the New York State Department of Corrections.



On December 18, 1975, the Lutz family moved into their new home. According to the Lutzes, with in days of moving into the house they began to experience supernatural phenomenon. Their claims include slime oozing from the walls, strange noises, unexplained fowl odors, large amounts of flies in the house and disembodied voices. George claimed he frequently woke up at 3:15 am to the sounds of music and gun shots. Their daughter Missy (who did not know of the murders) had an imaganery friend named Jody, the same name as one of the DeFeo’s daughters. Something must have terrified them, because the family fled, abandoning the house and all of their belongings only 28 days after moving in.



Their story quickly drew the attention of reporters. Channel 5 News New York were granted an exclusive interview with George and Kathy Lutz. The news show brought in famous paranormal investigators and Demonologist Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens investigated the house and held a seance, which was televised. During their investigation the famous “Amityville ghost boy” photo was taken.


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Psychic Medium Lorraine Warren has stated that the house was the most terrifying place she had ever entered and that the room in the basement is a “portal to hell”.


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Not long after the media frenzy,  ‘The Amityville Horror A True Story’ was written by Jay Anson in collaboration with George and Kathy Lutz. The family had to move to escape the publicity and angry friends of the DeFeo family.

Two years later, in 1979, ‘The Amityville Horror’ movie was released, based on the adaption of the book. The movie was directed by Stuart Rosenberg and stared James Brolin in the role of the unhinged father, George Lutz. Kathy was played by Margot Kidder.

In 2005, Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George starred in ‘The Amityville Horror’ remake, directed by Andrew Douglas. I have to admit I was pleased with the remake.

Today, many people question the truth of George and Kathy’s claims. There have been many families who have lived in the “Amityville house” since the Lutz family moved out. Most of the occupants have stated they never experienced any supernatural activity while living in the house at 112 Ocean Avenue. Either way their story inspired a horror classic and for that we are thankful.


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