Around 6:30 p.m. on November 13, 1974, 23-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr entered Henry’s Bar in Amityville, Long Island, New York, and declared: “You got to help me! I think my mother and father are shot!”[ DeFeo and a small group of people went to 112 Ocean Avenue, which was located near the bar, and found that DeFeo’s parents were dead inside the house. One of DeFeo’s friends, Joe Yeswit, made an emergency call to the Suffolk County Police Department, who searched the house and found that six members of the family were dead in their beds.
The victims were Ronald Jr.’s parents: Ronald DeFeo Sr. (43) and Louise DeFeo (43); and his four siblings: Dawn (18), Allison (13), Marc (12), and John Matthew (9). All of the victims had been shot with a .35 caliber rifle around three o’clock in the morning of that day. The DeFeo parents had both been shot twice, while the children had all been killed with single shots. Physical evidence suggests that Louise DeFeo and her daughter Allison were both awake at the time of their deaths. According to Suffolk County Police, the victims were all found lying face down in bed.
Ronald DeFeo Jr., also known as “Butch”, was the oldest son of the family and its lone surviving member. He was taken to the local police station for his own protection after suggesting to police officers at the scene of the crime that the killings had been carried out by a mob hit man.
However, an interview at the station soon exposed serious inconsistencies in his version of events. The following day, he confessed to carrying out the killings himself; and the alleged hitman had an alibi proving he was out of state at the time of the killings. DeFeo told detectives: “Once I started, I just couldn’t stop. It went so fast” He admitted that he had taken a bath and redressed, and detailed where he had discarded crucial evidence such as blood-stained clothes and the Marlin rifle and cartridges before going to work as usual.
DeFeo’s trial began on October 14, 1975. He and his defense lawyer, William Weber, mounted a defense of insanity, with DeFeo claiming that he killed his family in self-defense because he heard their voices plotting against him. The insanity plea was supported by the psychiatrist for the defense, Daniel Schwartz. The psychiatrist for the prosecution, Dr. Harold Zolan, maintained that, although DeFeo was a user of heroin and LSD, he had antisocial personality disorder and was aware of his actions at the time of the crime.
On November 21, 1975, DeFeo was found guilty on six counts of second-degree murder. On December 4, 1975, Judge Thomas Stark sentenced DeFeo to six sentences of 25 years to life.
There are some controversies around the murders. All six of the victims were found face down in their beds with no signs of a struggle. The police investigation concluded that the rifle had not been fitted with a sound suppressor and found evidence of sedatives having been administered. DeFeo admitted during his interrogation that he had drugged his family.
However, the autopsy report indicated otherwise, per the doctor, “We did extensive toxicology not only on the blood and urine but on all of the organs that we removed and it turned up zero that there wasn’t anything in their body,” Dr. Adelman explained. Neighbors did not report hearing any gunshots being fired, and those who were awake at the time of the murders simply heard the family’s sheep dog, Shaggy, barking.DeFeo died on March 12, 2021, at the Albany Medical Center. Official cause of death is not told due to privacy laws.
The Lutz family spent twenty-eight days in the home. They moved in on December 18, 1975 and fled on January 14, 1976. They moved in just over 13 months after the murders.
George and Kathy Lutz were married in July of 1975. They moved into the home with Kathy’s 3 children: Daniel, 9, Christopher, 7, and Melissa (Missy), 5. They also had a dog named Harry. Much of the DeFeo family’s furniture was still in the house, because it was included for $400 as part of the deal. They did so because it was very good – they liked it better than their old furniture – and it was offered at a price the Lutzes felt they couldn’t refuse.
Looking back on it, this may sound strange; but remember the Lutzes were skeptical of the paranormal at the time. George considered himself a “realist”; they didn’t think the house was haunted; and no strange events had taken place yet.
It wasn’t like the furniture was soaked in blood or anything. Obviously the mattresses were ruined and were taken out of the house prior to it being on the market. George & Kathy kept their own old bed, as did the children. Apparently they bought the old bedframe that once belonged to Dawn, and moved it to Missy’s room.
A friend of George Lutz learned about the history of the house and insisted on having it blessed. At the time, George was a non-practicing Methodist and had no experience of what this would entail. Kathy was a non-practicing Catholic and explained the process. George knew a Catholic priest named Father Ray who agreed to carry out the house blessing.
He arrived to perform the blessing while George and Kathy were unpacking their belongings on the afternoon of December 18, 1975 and went into the building to carry out the rites. As he blessed the sewing room, he heard a very deep voice behind him saying “Get out.” Even though there was no one else in the room with him, Father Ray also felt someone slap him across the face. When leaving the house, Father Mancuso did not mention this incident to either George or Kathy.
On December 24, 1975, Father Mancuso called George Lutz and advised him to stay out of the second floor room where he had heard the mysterious voice, the former bedroom of Marc and John Matthew DeFeo, that Kathy planned to use as a sewing room, but the call was cut short by static. Following his visit to the house, Father Mancuso allegedly developed a high fever and blisters on his hands similar to stigmata. At first George and Kathy experienced nothing unusual in the house. Talking about their experiences subsequently, they reported that it was as if they “were each living in a different house”.
It seems to be after Christmas when the family started to notice things were a bit odd. That’s when Kathy first mentioned how the noises in the house changed, becoming ugly and disturbing. She talked of scrapings, bangings, footsteps on the floors above (when the children were fast asleep).
For George, it came later. It seemed to be when Kathy first told him about being embraced from behind when she was alone in the house. George knew it wasn’t like her to be subject to hallucinations. George remembers her being very serious about explaining this experience to him, and how she found it very difficult to do so.
Did the family all experience the same thing, living in the same house? Not really. George has said each family member could see things drastically different then the person right next to them. Kathy described it as a 3-ring circus, with each ring being a separate area of the house. For instance when George would hear the “marching band” sounds from downstairs, Kathy could sleep right through it.
What did the “marching band” sound like? It has been referred to as a “marching band,” but that’s not totally accurate. George described it as “a whole bunch of musicians going – each one in their own direction, playing their own song” – like an “unorganized musical sound.” The sounds were coming from downstairs.
At first George thought it might be a clock radio that went off downstairs – perhaps tuned slightly off-station. But he could distinctly hear the sound of many feet stomping around. The floor downstairs had carpets, but the sound of the marching feet George heard sounded like they were on a hard floor, not carpet. Some people mistake this for the carpet being rolled-up.
When George got downstairs to check it out, there was nothing out of order. The sound had stopped. The carpet was in place, and Harry, their dog, was sound asleep at the foot of the front door.
George heard the front door slam during the middle of the night. It had a very distinct sound, and was very heavy, so you could hear it throughout the house. When he went down to investigate, he found their dog sound asleep at the base of the door, making it impossible for the door to have been recently opened.
George says he heard just about every door in the house slam shut at various times with no explanation.
Another weird thing was George became obsessed with keeping the fire going. He felt as if he could never get warm enough, and worried that they might not have enough firewood. This was just another personality change for George while in that house. Keeping the fire going had become the most important thing to him.
Yes, one night Kathy’s facial appearance turned into, what George referred to as, that of “a really ugly old woman.” Kathy was in a deep sleep, and George woke her. She was shocked by the look of revulsion on his face. Kathy looked at herself in the mirror and saw that her face was severely wrinkled with deep impressions under her eyes and across her forehead. Her lips were tight and drawn, and her hair had turned into a greyish white color. It took hours for this to go away.
At the time, Kathy recalled feelings of confusion and illness as she tried to understand what was happening. George can’t recall what exactly was going through his mind at that moment, besides a great feeling of revulsion; but he didn’t connect the incident right away with the house. He was trying to figure out a rational explanation for what could have caused this.
George would awaken between 3 and 3:30 am each night. Which is around the time the Defeos were murdered.
Kathy came across the “red room” by accident one day, as she was moving furniture around in the house and setting up storage space. In the basement, she saw one particular bookshelf that she wanted to move. She was surprised to find that behind the bookshelf was the entrance to a small hidden area which was painted a bright red color. It was not as it appeared in the movies. It didn’t contain a pit of blood, and it was not behind a solid wall that George had to break down to gain access.
Nevertheless, the Lutzes found this little “red room” a bit disturbing – it wasn’t included in the diagrams of the house; it has a foul odor; and their dog, Harry, wouldn’t go near it. Normally Harry was a very curious animal, but he backed right out of the area and ran up the stairs.
Jodie was described by Missy as an angel, who could appear in many different forms. It was a friend to Missy. For some reason it appeared to Missy as a pig – either on its own, or at the request of Missy. Missy said Jodie could change size – that it could be as small as a teddy bear, or bigger than the house – and that it could not be seen by others unless it wanted them to. Kathy recalls one day in the kitchen when Missy came in and asked if angels could talk. She said there was an angel living in her bedroom. At first Kathy thought nothing of Missy having an imaginary friend – her sons also had imaginary friends in the past – but when Missy asked if angels could talk, and when Missy told her parents that Jodie said they would live there forever, George and Kathy were concerned. That didn’t seem a normal thing for a little 5 year old girl to say.
Danny’s hands were crushed by a window in the sewing room. His hands were literally deformed – they were flat. As they were about to leave for the hospital, they looked at his hands again and they appeared fine. It was almost like the house didn’t want them to leave, which is a conclusion they arrived at much later.
By mid-January 1976, after another attempt at a house blessing by George and Kathy, they experienced what would turn out to be their final night in the house. The Lutzes declined to give a full account of the events that took place on this occasion, describing them as “too frightening”.
But they did talk about the levitation. On their last night, The children’s beds were being slammed around upstairs – levitating up then crashing down onto the floor. Kathy was in a deep sleep, very rigid, and was sliding away from George across the bed. The “marching band” noise George heard before was once again coming from downstairs, and it sounded like every window and door downstairs was being violently slammed open and closed repeatedly. George couldn’t get out of bed, which was soaked from sweat.
Something got into the bed with George and Kathy – something invisible, but George could see the impression of its footprints on the mattress. He could feel its weight and he sensed he could feel its breath, although there was so much noise happening at the time, he couldn’t be sure.
For the first couple of nights at Kathy’s mother’s house, there were two separate occasions during which they levitated. One occurred as they were meditating (they soon stopped that practice). George woke from the mediation to see Kathy being pulled up the side of the wall. He grabbed her, pulled her back down and woke her up.
For a long time they tried to explain away everything that was going on, even when Kathy turned into an “old hag.” When they experienced the strange noises and smells, they looked for natural explanations such as broken pipes, possible leaks and they even tore down ceiling panels, looking for hidden speakers or speaker wire. The Lutzes tried to find natural explanations for the events, but over time too many things just didn’t seem to add up:
–the odor of sweet/cheap perfume
–the foul “sewer-type” odors in the basement (where there were no pipes)
–the red room, its odor and its effect on their dog (again no pipes)
–the changes in the family’s personality
–George’s obsession with the fire
–George being awakened each night around 3:15am
–the flies in the middle of winter
–the epoxy drips in the keyholes
–the fluctuations in the heat
–the black stains in the toilets
–George not wanting to eat or shower
–the family not wanting to leave the house at any time
–doors mysteriously opening on their own
Individually, these were not things the family seemed to be overly alarmed about, but collectively it got to a point where George was questioning his own sanity. They started to realize there was something seriously wrong.
After getting in touch with Father Mancuso, the Lutzes decided to take some belongings and stay at Kathy’s mother’s house in nearby Deer Park, New York, until they had sorted out the problems with the house. They claimed that the phenomena followed them there, with “greenish-black slime” coming up the staircase towards them. On January 14, 1976, George and Kathy Lutz, with their three children and their dog Harry, left 112 Ocean Avenue, leaving all of their possessions behind.
The thought of why no other owner has experienced any phenomena is because the haunting left with the Lutz. They have all passed polygraphs about their experiences.