Typically, this is what the Warrens did when called in on a case: After getting some background from the complainants (usually a family), Lorraine walked through the house to pinpoint the problem. Demons can be detected by the presence of a particular nauseating odor, according to the Warrens. They prefer dark nooks and crannies, so the Warrens always cased out basements, crawlspaces, and closets. After giving the house the sniff test, they turned on an ordinary tape recorder. It sometimes picked up unexplained noises, and the Warrens played these tapes for their demonology students and lecture audiences, to prove that demons walk among us. They also displayed blurry photos that depicted white streaks; Lorraine explained these were round "globules" of spirit energy invisible to the human eye, but not to cameras.
Part of his investigative process was to identify the occult "entryway" the spirit(s) had used to enter our reality. It could be something as innocuous as a ouija board session conducted for fun by a single member of the household a decade earlier, or something as dastardly as generational curses and pacts with the Devil made by Satanists.
The problem with this story is that Satanic rock was around before 1979, and not one of its originators lived in or around Ridgefield.
In my humble opinion, bonfires, loud parties, and a freaky girlfriend do not a Satanist make.
- The house was not situated on a site where local Native Americans abandoned their insane and dying, and there is no evidence for Hans Holzer's claim that an Indian chief was buried at the site.
- There is no evidence to support Jay Anson's claim that Amityville settler John Ketcham lived "within 500 feet" of the house, or that he was a devil worshipper, or that he was driven out of the area for practicing witchcraft.
- The "secret red room" in the basement was an ordinary storage area, clearly marked on floorplans.
- The priest who blessed the house, Father Pecoraro, gave conflicting accounts of what he experienced there. At first he told researchers he didn't experience anything unsual at all, though in the fictionalized account he was ordered to "Get out!" by a throaty, disembodied voice, and later broke out in boils. Later he admitted he heard the voice and experienced some car trouble, but didn't attribute these things to the supernatural.
- Subsequent owners found no evidence that the doors and windows had been damaged by mysterious gale-force winds that came of out nowhere, as described by George Lutz.
- The Lutzes resided in the house for several months, not just one.
- Most damning of all, Butch DeFeo's defense attorney, William Weber, had commissioned Anson's book and met with the Lutzes to discuss its contents. He told People in 1979 that he and George Lutz had concocted the whole story in the hopes of selling the rights to it. He hoped to gain an appeal for his client by presenting evidence that the house contained some force, natural or otherwise, that drove some of its inhabitants to insanity. He won the protracted legal battle that resulted from his collaboration with Anson and the Lutzes, but his client remains in prison.
- In 2003 Kathleen Lutz's middle child, Christopher, declared the haunting was a hoax. He later partially retracted his accusation, saying that while some of the incidents were fabricated, the haunting really did occur.
The Warrens were paid consultants to the first Amityville movie sequel.
George and Kathy Lutz insisted until their deaths (in 2006 and 2004, respectively) that the haunting was real.
- Anson, Jay. The Amityville Horror: A True Story. Prentice Hall, 1977.
- Lynott, Douglas B. "The Real Life Amityville Horror: The Murder of the DeFeo Family". TruTV Crime Library website.
- Nickell, Joe. "Amityville: The Horror of it All". Skeptical Inquirer, Jan./Feb. 2003.
- Osuna, Ric. The Night the DeFeos Died. Imprint, 2006.
- History's Mysteries: Amityville - Horror or Hoax? documentary (History Channel, 2000)
- Wikipedia entry for "The Amityville Horror"