On Nov. 13, 1974, six members of the DeFeo family were murdered inside the three-story house in Amityville, N.Y. The family’s eldest son, Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr., was convicted a year later in the brutal slaying of his mother, father, two brothers and two sisters. He’s currently serving six consecutive life terms at the Greenhaven Correctional Facility in Greenhaven, N.Y.
Thirteen months after the killings, Lutz and his wife Kathy purchased the 4,000-square-foot waterfront property for only $80,000. They knew the house had been the site of horrific crimes, but didn’t feel these past events would affect their future.
The couple and their three children lived at 112 Ocean Avenue for 28 days — until paranormal occurrences caused them to flee. During their month in the house, the Lutzes reportedly heard voices in empty rooms and hallways. Doors and windows mysteriously unlocked of their own accord. Furniture changed location without being moved, and repulsive odors filled the air. Areas of the property, including the boathouse and the basement, also felt unexplainable cold.
Each member of the family experienced personality changes as well. George felt sick and depressed and awoke each night at 3:15 a.m. with an uncontrollable desire to check the boathouse. Kathy aged unnaturally fast and suffered from terrible nightmares. And the kids began fighting with each other, much more than was usual. The Lutzes eventually fled for their lives, leaving the majority of their possessions behind. Their stay in the Amityville home was later chronicled in numerous films and books.
Several accounts have discredited George Lutz’s version of events. Jim and Barbara Cromarty, a couple that later moved into the house, claimed it was not haunted and even sued Lutz for bringing undue fame and attention to their lives. Lutz denied all of the allegations.
George and Kathy Lutz next moved to San Diego, where they briefly sold Amway products, then to Arizona before divorcing in the late-1980s. Kathy died in 2004 of emphysema. At the time of his death, George was living in Las Vegas, where he volunteered at a homeless shelter and restored old cars. He occasionally appeared at conferences dedicated to the paranormal to discuss his Amityville experiences.