Everyone knows The Amityville Horror story. Ronald “Butch” DeFeo Jr., a 23-year-old heroin addict, slew his parents and four younger siblings at rifle-point as they slept on Nov. 13, 1974, then made countless contradicting statements. The Lutz family moved in the following year and fled a month later, claiming disembodied demonic voices, glowing, red-eyed, flying pigs, green oozing walls and swarms of flies chased them from 112 Ocean Ave.
Some call it the scariest haunted house story of all time, others dismiss it as shameless profiteering off six murder victims, but debate persists 35 years later nonetheless over the supposed supernatural presence at Long Island’s most infamous address. After more than a dozen movies and TV specials, a series of books and a slew of lawsuits on the subject, it seems the jury is still out on just what motivated DeFeo—and what, if anything, happened to the Lutzes.
Now, yet another theory has emerged on the latter.
“I don’t even want anything to do with this darkness, but it just keeps coming back to me,” says Chris Lutz, who lived in the house with his family for the storied 28 days. “As much as I try to stay out of the limelight, there comes a point where a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.”
Lutz, who since changed his name, served in the first Iraq War and moved to Arizona, tells the Press he decided to break his silence—an admittedly court-ordered silence given his litigious relationship with his late step father, George Lutz—upon learning four more re-adaptations are expected to hit theaters next year. The 2005 version that came months after his mother died pushed him to run the gauntlet.
The Amityville Legacy 3-D, The Amityville Horror: The Lost Tapes, from the makers of Paranormal Activity, and a documentary called Shattered Hopes exploring DeFeo’s claims he didn’t act alone are due out in 2012. So is a documentary called My Amityville Horror starring Lutz’ estranged older brother, Daniel.
Chris says the two had a falling out over that movie. Daniel could not be reached for comment. Their younger sister, Missy, stays out of the family feud, Chris notes.
“It’s a traumatic experience that I went through as a kid, so it’s not a pleasant experience to sit and try to write about,” he says, explaining his reluctance after four decades. “I was moving along peacefully in life to see that this was gonna get rehashed once again… I can’t remain silent and feel that I’m doing the right thing.”
But Lutz stops short of getting into specifics. He doesn’t want to give the competition any ideas while he’s still writing his book, although he is selling a $5 fireside webcast preview Sunday, Oct. 30 via tvoop.com.
His working title is The Creepiest Story of All Time, and comes, he says, “with a creepy or your money-back guarantee.” Lutz challenged those behind the other four movies to an American Idol-style competition where viewers vote for the scariest version. He says none have accepted the offer.
“I’ll call what’s not real, not real, but there is a lot of truth underneath all those lies,” he says.