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The Amityville Horror - Truth or hoax?

Feature by: Jack Foley

THE events surrounding The Amityville Horror continue to divide people into those who believe they are true and those who insist they are a hoax.

What is known, for sure, is that on November 13, 1974, Suffolk County Police received a phone call that led them to 112 Ocean Avenue, in Amityville, Long Island.

Inside the large Dutch Colonial house they discovered that an entire family had been slaughtered in their beds.

The murderer was Ronald DeFeo Jnr, the eldest son of the DeFeo family, who had taken a rifle to his parents and four siblings while they slept.

Although he confessed to the crimes, Ronald claimed 'voices' in the house drove him to commit the murders but he was subsequently found guilty of six counts of first-degree murder.

It's what came next that is open to speculation.

One year later, a new family moved into the house - the Lutzs, comprised of George, Kathy and her three children from a past relationship - and they, too, claim to have experienced supernatural forces at work.

They survived only 28 days, fleeing without any of their belongings.

Their story became a best-selling book (by Jay Anson) and an extremely popular film and has subsequently been revisited in a remake of The Amityville Horror.

But surf around the internet and there is plenty to suggest that the Lutzs claims weren't true.

According to the Lutzs, strange things began to happen from almost the moment they moved into the house - locked windows and doors would inexplicably open and close, while strange noises seemed to surround them.

An attempt to exorcise the house by a Catholic priest ended with him fleeing in fear and prompted the strange occurrences to intensify.

The Lutzs claimed to have seen a devilish creature outside the house at night, while George became seemingly possessed by an evil spirit.

The family was further terrified by ghostly apparitions and swarms of flies, while their youngest child claimed to have struck up a 'friendship' with a girl called Jodie.

Amazingly, however, the family never called for police assistance and remained in the house for as long as 28 days.

The story was subsequently investigated by a paranormal investigator from New York, named Dr. Stephen Kaplan, who subsequently declared it to be a hoax.

He claims to have met with a lawyer, William Weber, who confessed to his part in it.

Weber was the lawyer who represented Ronald DeFeo and he claimed that he and George Lutz had concocted the story over a few bottles of wine in an attempt to secure a new trial for DeFeo.

Lutz, for his part, was struggling with mortgage payments he could no longer afford.

In addition, an investigation into the house itself proved a number of the Lutzs claims to be totally false, including a Red Room, which was found to be nothing more than a small pipe well, and the old front door still in place (which the Lutzs claimed had been blown off).

What's more, there have been no further reports of supernatural activity by anyone who has since lived in the house, which exists to this day.

But the conspiracy theorists and believers in the supernatural still have arguments to fuel their case.

Several people connected to The Amityville Horror have since met strange deaths.

Dr Kaplan, himself, almost died from a heart attack in 1976 and then passed away several years later, in an untimely fashion.

While a writer named Paul Hoffman, who was responsible for the original story that appeared in newspapers, died a few years after he broke the story in mysterious circumstances.

Jay Anson, the author of the best-selling book that inspired the film, also died shortly after he received his first million dollar advance for his next book.

While a demonologist (Ed Warren) who conducted one of the first investigations into the house suffered a heart attack a few years later which he maintained was caused by the house.

The coincidences are numerous and further investigation on websites and in books that have subsequently been published on the subject are sure to fuel the debate surrounding The Amityville Horror for years to come.

The new film, starring Ryan Reynolds and Melissa George, is only certain to stoke up the debate still further, while serving to ensure that Amityville beocmes a tourist attraction once again.

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