Once the book was published, everyone wanted to hear firsthand accounts of life in the Amityville house. Both George and Kathy gave many television interviews about their experiences. Years later, Kathy claimed to have been shocked by the inaccuracies in Anson's version of the story, though it seems odd that they could have discussed the case so many times without discussing the book. Anson had given the manuscript to George for approval, and had received it. It does seem that George, at least, was aware that statements were being made that were not strictly true, but did nothing to correct them.
This later hurt the Lutzes' credibility by making it easy for skeptics to disprove claims made in the bestselling book. Investigator Steve Kaplan asked George about the incident when a window slammed down on little Danny's hand and the boy was taken to a hospital for treatment. Seeing a chance to verify some facts in the case, Kaplan asked which hospital, and the date of the treatment. George then said Danny had been treated at home after all, so there is no record to confirm or disprove.
Other statements ahve been contradicted by outside witnesses, but some of the explanations are nearly as implausible as the haunting theory. For example, the book states that five-year-old Missy told her parents of an imaginary friend, a talking pig named Jodie. Both George and Kathy claimed to have seen Jodie's glowing red eyes in Missy's second-story window. Kathy saw them looking in while she was in Missy's bedroom, and George said he saw them looking out from that room when he was in the back yard.
Their next-door neighbor said that his wife's Persian cat was very fat and that when the DeFeo family lived there, eldest son Ronnie (later convicted of murdering the rest of his family, allegedly under the influence of spirits in the house) referred to the large cat as "the pig." The neighbor also claimed that the cat would often jump up to the second-floor window and look in, and pointed out that cats' eyes glow red in the dark. While it is true that if a cat has blue eyes, they can appear red when reflecting light at a certain angle, it still seems unlikely that a cat heavy enough to be nicknamed "the pig" should be in the habit of leaping up to a second-floor window.
When evaluating witness accounts, one must always ask whether there is any reason for lying. Certainly there was a great deal of money involved in the book sales, though it's debatable how much of that ever reached the Lutzes. The general public is often unaware of how much money goes to publishers and distributors, and in this case to the man who actually wrote up the events, rather than to those who lived through the experience and gave him their stories. It's very possible that the Lutzes received much less money for their story than most people think they did. George Lutz stated in an interview that the family lost more than $100,000 by leaving the house and their belongings, and selling his home-based surveying business at a loss. Remember that the Lutzes fled the house in 1977. Adjusted for inflation to 2015, that would be like losing over $400,000 today. If they planned the hoax as a moneymaker, they failed miserably.
Ronnie DeFeo, still in prison, has gone on record many times stating that he heard voices and screams in the house during the nine years he lived there. Admittedly, he was also a known drug user who could well have been experiencing hallucinations. His defense during his murder trial rested on the theory that, literally, "the devil made him do it." Even to those who believe in the haunting, it is undeniable that Ronnie DeFeo would have a good reason to lie about it.
On the other hand, those who study the ways of spirits and demons believe that they can attach themselves to a weak person and cause them to become dependent on drugs and alcohol. So Ronnie may well have been oppressed to do what he did, from using drugs to committing murder.
One truly inexplicable fact about the murders has yet to be explained away by the skeptics. In one of the best documentaries on this case, "The Real Amityville Horror" (1979), a police officer stated that all six of the mudered DeFeos were found lying face down in their beds as if they had been asleep at the time of the shootings. While it's possible that one person could have been shot while asleep, surely the others would have been awakened by the noise? Yet none appear to have moved.
The obvious conclusion is that they were drugged, unable to wake even at the sound of a high-powered rifle being fired inside the house, in the next room. Yet forensic testing revealed no evidence of any drug in any of the bodies, nor any evidence that a silencer was used. In addition, a neighbor was awake around that time and reported hearing the DeFeos' dog barking outside, but no gunshots. This is especially baffling since police tested the murder weapon and found that it could be heard five blocks away. So how is it possible that no one inside the house woke up at the sounds of not one, but at least six shots?That fact alone, documented by police reports and independent witnesses, is enough to convince many people that paranormal forces are at work in that home.
Next: The Media