The real life Amityville Horror House



image from: – Photo credit: Kevin Wohlers for Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty

The photo above is the actual house in Amityville, New York where 24-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot his mother, father and 4 siblings with a shotgun the night of  November 14, 1974.

This photo was taken in 2010 when the house at 108 Ocean Drive (formerly 112 Ocean Drive) was last listed for sale.

It looks a little different today than it looked in the 1970’s…

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Originally clad in dark shingle siding, the Dutch Colonial style home had been owned by the DeFeo family since 1965.

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After the gruesome and seemingly inexplicable crime, Ronald DeFeo Jr. – the eldest son – was arrested and is now serving time in prison for the murder of his family.

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Almost exactly a year after the crime, George and Kathleen Lutz purchased the home despite the fact that it was still technically tied up in probate proceedings. They moved in on December 18, 1975 with their dog and three children and fled 28 days later in utter fear.

Their stay was so short that they did not even make a payment on the $60,000 mortgage they had on the house.

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The Lutz’s claimed they were terrorized by demonic forces in the home and wrote a best-selling book with Jay Anson based on their experiences.

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The Lutz’s reported hearing voices, being levitated above their beds and green slime oozing from the walls, among other phenomena.

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The book – The Amityville Horror (1977) – was turned into a blockbuster movie in 1979 and has had several film adaptations since then.

Although the Lutz’s eventually lost the house to foreclosure August of 1976, they made a killing from book royalties.

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Recently, I finished reading the Jay Anson book on which the original movie was based. Though compelling, I found some of the claims to be a bit over the top. I mean, sure the house could be haunted, sure there could be some negative energy there, but flying pigs with beady red eyes seemed a little much to me.

Nonetheless, the book digs into the house and the property’s interesting history…

Although the house was not built until 1927-1928, the property on which the house stands is said to be ancient Shinnecock Indian land where the sick, infirm and mentally ill from the tribe were banished. After the Shinnecock people were driven westward, the property was used as farmland until a settler by the name of John Ketcham set up a residence there in the 1690’s. After his death, he was reportedly buried on the property. The Jay Anson book claims that this was the same John Ketcham who had been forced out of Salem Massachusetts for practising witchcraft, although this claim has not been authenticated by historians.

There was an odd hidden room found in the basement of the house by the Lutz’s – apparently the location of a colonial era well – but the Anson books suggests that this room was some type of portal to hell. I believe that I have one of those in my old house’s cellar as well, so that’s not news to me (or any old house owner).

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At some point in time after the Lutz’s claims of haunting went world-wide, new owners of the house replaced the eye-like quarter-round attic windows with regular square shaped windows in the hopes that the infamous house would be less recognizable. Previous owners even went so far as to change the address to throw off leering legions of morbid house-peepers.

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The house was most recently listed for sale in 2010. In August 2010, after it went under contract, the sellers held a moving sale and curious folks lined up down the street and around the block just to get a peek inside the place.

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The house in Amityville made the news again recently in February 2012 when a second gun was found in the Amityville Creek directly behind the house by a film crew filming a documentary there. The discovery of a second gun gave credibility to the theory that Ronald DeFeo Jr did not act alone and that the murders may somehow have been mafia related. The gun was extremely deteriorated and little to no forensic evidence could be pulled from it. You can read more about that here.

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The 2010 sellers had done a lot of work to the house including restoring the sagging boat house and adding a second sun room on the canal side of the home. It sold in October of 2010 for $950,000.

The 2010 listing was one of the few glimpses the rest of us nosy house-lovers have had inside the infamous house.

Below is a photo of the newer sun room…

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The sellers had the house beautifully and appropriately decorated…

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…but still… there is just something about that house that gives one pause (and cold shivers up and down the spine!)

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It’s perfectly, wonderfully creepy.


For further reading about the Amityville Horror House see the following sources:

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**** The house at 108 Ocean Drive in Amityville is a private residence and the new owners would like to maintain their privacy even though they live in one of the most notorious homes in America. So please, for the love of all things holy, confine your Amityville Horror house gawking to virtual (Internet) house-peeping only!


*******Update 11/20/2012 – a reader named Camille who had property in an Amityville neighborhood told me that the infamous house at 108 Ocean Drive did sustain damage from super-storm Sandy in early November 2012 but the house is still standing. See message below:

 Hi Sarah

Just wanted to give you an update on the Amityville (horror house). We don’t acknowledge it in that way because the true horror for the town was what really happened in the house and to the family.
ANYWAY…I was there yesterday and it was surreal to see the destruction the storm surge created. That house apparently had water in the house , because there were rolls of carpet and padding at the curb along with other things, but I think because they are farther up the creek and don’t have a canal across the street, they made out a little better than those of us with water on both sides.
Most of the houses in our neighborhood (by the yacht club) are not habitable as they were flooded with sea water. We were the hardest hit, as far as I could see, as we were completely leveled. Others had everything from their home out at the curb.


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