THE HOAX IN AMITYVILLE: PART 2
During the summer of 1975, the house was sold to George and Kathy Lutz for $80,000. Even though they knew about the murders, the Lutzes loved the house so much that they went ahead and bought it.
George and Kathy Lutz
The couple moved into the house that December with Kathy's three children. Within a short period of time, the family left, leaving their belongings behind.
In February 1976, the Lutzes first went public, claiming that ghosts had driven them from their dream house. At first, their story seemed like any other ghost story with the family claiming that they had only been living in the house for 10 days.
The abandoned Lutz home
Over the months that followed, their story grew, and soon even more bizarre "phenomena" was told to the public. The family also changed the original amount of time that they had lived in the house from 10 days to 28 days.
Their story spread very quickly across the United States and around the world. People were believing their story. After all, why would they abandon such a beautiful home?
In 1977, a book by Jay Anson entitled The Amityville Horror--A True Story was released, detailing the family's horrific 28 days and becoming a bestseller.
The Amityville Horror hit the big screen in 1979 and was based on the book. It, too, claimed to be a "true story."
That's when the lawsuits started.
The family that had moved into the house after the Lutzes had left had experienced absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. The only problem that they had experienced with living in the house was dealing with the number of tourists visiting the town to see the "horror house." They sued the Lutzes and the publishers. The case was settled out of court.
A second lawsuit exposed the real "horror" that had happened in Amityville.
Attorney William Weber, Ronald DeFeo's defense lawyer, was suing the Lutzes for stealing his ideas for the story.
Apparently the Lutzes had moved into the house, thinking that they could handle living where the murders happened. However, after a couple of days of moving in, the heating system in the house broke down, and after a few days, the family began having bad feelings about living there. They were nervous and left to stay at a relative's house to collect their thoughts. It was there that a family member told them that they could expand on their "bad feelings" and make it into a ghost story.
The family then met with William Weber to find out more about the history of the murders and the house.
At the time, Weber was also thinking of writing a book, not on ghosts, but about the murders. When the Lutzes met with him, they told him about the bad feelings that they were having in the house. Weber thought that their being nervous about living in the house after the murders would make a good afterwards section for his book. The three talked about the murders with Weber telling George and Kathy more and more information and showing them pictures of the house and the crime scene.
The Lutzes then went public. At first, Weber went along with their scheme since it was sticking very closely to the bad feelings that they had experienced. However, the Lutzes soon began making their experiences more and more exaggerated. Weber and Paul Hoffman, the group's original choice for an author, backed out of the mess.
Weber was still planning his book, but before it could be finished, the Lutzes had released their book.
Author Jay Anson had written the book from audio tapes that George and Kathy had given him. The tapes contained their accounts of the events that the Lutzes claimed happened to them. Anson then took the events on the tapes, rearranged them into a more interesting order, exaggerated some events, and added his own ideas here and there.
However, the Lutzes, even after the book came out, continued to change and rechange their story. Weber even saw a letter that had been written to Jay Anson, telling him to tell the Lutzes to get their story straight.
Weber's lawsuit against the Lutzes was settled out of court. The judge in the trial even said that with all of the discrepencies and exagerations in the story that the book was a lot of nonsense.
Dr. Stephen Kaplan was the first person to say that the case was a hoax. George had contacted him to ask him to investigate the house for the "psychic phenomena." A couple days later, George called Dr. Kaplan to call off the investigation, saying that there was too much publicity. Dr. Kaplan thought this was strange since the investigation was something that would help George. He also noted that the family had just held a press conference in William Weber's office, but they didn't want any publicity. Dr. Kaplan also got suspicious that the Lutzes were meeting with the lawyer who was defending the kid that had killed his family in the house the year before. His suspicions were confirmed when the "seances" held in the house were televised on public television. He also got to tour the house not long afterwards when he and two collegues arrived at the house and saw that the family was in the process of selling off everything in the house!
Another group of investigators from the American Society for Psychical Research stumbled upon a piece of evidence that really blew the whistle on the Lutzes. The investigators were interviewing the family. They'd gone over some of the incidents with the family to confirm that this happened and that happened. However, the investigators weren't convinced that the case was legitimate, since there wasn't much evidence to support it. They asked the family to show them a copy of their signatures. George and Kathy then showed the investigators a paper that had their signatures at the bottom. However, the couple hadn't thought that the investigators would get a good look at the paper. They did. It was a contract for a book and a movie.
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