Sunday, May 27, 2012
Amityville Horror II: Fact or Fiction?
Claim #1: Kathy Lutz (the family who lived the Amityville Horror) claimed in a 2000 History Channel interview that a tragedy had befallen every family who lived in the DeFeo home.
Facts: The Dutch Colonial home was built by John and Catherine Mohnahan in 1925. They had six children, one of which (Eileen Fitzgerald) moved her own family into the house. Eileen lived there until 1960. The buyers, John and Mary Riley lived in the house for 5 years before divorcing. The DeFeos were residents for nine years until the tragic murders. The Lutz family claims are documented in the book and movie.
Claim #2: Jay Anson's book suggests the property is cursed because it had once belonged to John Ketcham, a suspected witch in Salem, Massachusetts who fled to Amityville.
Facts: Geneological and historical records reveal several John Ketchams in the area, none of who ever resided near the property or was a witch.
Claim #3. The book claims the house is located on a cursed Indian cemetery.
Facts: New York State Records and The Amityville Historical Society have no records of any cemeteries in the area of the house. The Montaukett Indians lived in the area, but were based in tidal basins. They showed author Jay Anson their old burial grounds, all of which were outside of Amityville.
Claim #4: The book relayed the heavy involvement of the Catholic Church in the hauntings of the house.
Facts: Father Ralph Pecoraro's only contact with the Lutzes was a phone call and it's unclear whether the priest ever visited 112 Ocean Avenue. The assistant to the Vicar General of the diocese overseeing Amityville said in a May 15, 2002 letter: "The Diocese maintains [the Amityville Horror] is a false report."
Why would the Lutz's and Jay Anson lie? The answer is probably found in money and buyer's remorse. Anson made a mint on the book and movie; the Lutz's never made a payment on their $60,000 mortgage, fleeing the property in 28 days. Subsequent owners Jim and Barbara Cromarty were so hounded by the curious that they sued the Lutz's and Anson in a multi-million lawsuit claiming "false misrepresentations were made willfully and solely for commercial exploitation." There was an undisclosed settlement.
The home was sold for $300,000 in 1997, is currently priced for $1.3 million, has a boathouse, is located on Amityville Creek and assessed $10,000 in taxes a year. Ghosts need not apply.