"Coming back to 112 Ocean Avenue,
the families that I found had resided in that dwelling place appeared to have a calamity
within each one." -- Kathy Lutz, History's Mysteries, October 2000.
".....And that is another crock. The
Lutzes say that every family that was brought up in this house had bad things happen to
them." -- Jim Cromarty, NBC Press
In a 2000 interview with The History
Channel, Kathy Lutz claimed that a tragedy befell every family that
lived in the DeFeo home. Moreover, Jay Anson's book
suggests that the property is cursed because it had once belonged to
John Ketcham, a suspected witch, who had fled Salem, Massachusetts
before taking up residence in Amityville.
During an August 9, 1979 press conference,
Jim Cromarty, then‑owner of the Amityville house, said, “I was born in
Amityville. I knew every family that grew up in this house. And that is
another crock. The Lutzes say that every family that was brought up in this
house had bad things happen to them. It happens to be a fact that only
one family had a tragedy happen to them in this house. Every other
family had nothing but good things come out of the house.”
In the late 1600s, Amityville was part of
Huntington Township. A check of the historical society located in
Huntington, a town approximately 13 miles from Amityville, revealed that
there were several John Ketchams in the area. Because records of this
time period are sketchy at best, there was no clear proof that any Ketcham
ever resided on or near the property. The most definitive proof against any John
Ketcham's being a witch came from the Ketcham family's own extensive
research into their genealogy. After careful investigation, they have
been able to determine there never was a witch named John Ketcham.
According to deeds and information compiled
by the Amityville Historical Society, the Ocean Avenue property had once
been farmland belonging to the Irelands, one of Amityville's most
prominent and influential families. On January 14, 1924, Annie Ireland
sold the property to John and Catherine Moynahan. The following year,
Amityville builder Jesse Perdy constructed the large Dutch Colonial that
still stands there today. While their new home was being built, the
Moynahans relocated to the old house down the street. When the house was
finished, the family of six moved back in and once again enjoyed life by
the Amityville Creek.
When John and Catherine Moynahan died, their
daughter, Eileen Fitzgerald, moved in with her own family. She lived
there until October 17, 1960, when John and Mary Riley bought the house.
Because of marital problems, the Rileys divorced and sold the house to
the DeFeos on June 28, 1965.
The DeFeos lived in the house for more than
nine years until on November 13, 1974, the years of abuse and turmoil
from Big Ronnie came to a head. After the DeFeos, the Lutz family moved
into the property and then moved out in 28 days. Their stay was so short
that they did not even make a payment on the $60,000 mortgage they had
on the house. On August 30, 1976, the Lutzes returned the house to
Columbia Savings and Loan. In September 1977, Jay Anson's bestselling
book, The Amityville Horror, was released to the public. A
blockbuster movie adaptation followed in 1979.
On March 18, 1977, Jim and Barbara Cromarty
purchased the home from the bank. Although plagued by hordes of tourists
searching for supernatural phenomena, the Cromartys managed to live
there happily for a decade. Nonetheless, they found it necessary to
change the address to confuse the curious.
The Cromartys in their living room.
Photo from LI Magazine
During a press conference to refute
the Lutzes' allegations, the Cromartys issued a two‑page statement.
An excerpt read:
The quiet village of Amityville,
Long Island, has been made infamous by a hoax. It will possibly never
be the same. It is Long Island's equivalent to Watergate. None of us
would be here today if a responsible publisher and author had not
given credibility to two liars, and allowed them the privilege of
putting the word true on a book in which in all actuality is a
novel. The credibility of the hoax stems from using a charlatan
Catholic priest, who has been banned from performing his religious
duties by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, the equivalent of
disbarment of a lawyer. This charlatan priest has been involved with a
complicity to a lie and, therefore, deserves no credibility, and
should be dealt with accordingly.
The Cromartys sued the Lutzes, Jay
Anson and the publishers of The Amityville Horror.
Their multi‑million dollar suit argued that not only was the book an
invasion of privacy, but that "false misrepresentations were made
willfully and solely for commercial exploitation." Eventually, the
parties arrived at an undisclosed settlement.
As a child,
Jim Cromarty played in the house, and both he and his wife were
determined to make the home a part of the community again. Eventually, the
curiosity seekers proved unbearable, and the
Cromartys were forced to put the house on the market. They left friend
Frank Birch to tend to the property and act as house-sitter while they
were away. Neither Mr. Birch nor the Cromartys ever reported
any supernatural happenings. The Cromartys eventually moved back in and
took the house off the market. They remained in the house happily until
1987 when David Roskin, Barbara's son from a previous marriage,
reportedly passed away in a hospital.
On August 17, 1987, Peter and
Jeanne O'Neil purchased the house from the Cromartys. During their stay,
they changed the famed eye‑windows to square ones and filled in the
DeFeo pool. Since the yearly property taxes are in excess of $10,000,
neighbors state that the O'Neils moved to save money for their
children's college tuition.
On June 10, 1997, Brian Wilson
purchased the house for approximately $310,000. Since 1997, Wilson has
renovated the property. Among the many improvements, he has strengthened
the foundation of the sinking boathouse and added a sunroom to the back
of the house.
Since the renovation was anything
but cheap, it is quite preposterous to think that a malevolent force
resides there. The only thing the current house owners want is for the hoax
to end and for the tourists to leave them alone, so they may enjoy their
property in peace. With MGM's remake of
The Amityville Horror set to be released in 2005, it is likely that hordes of tourists will
flock to the small seaside village once more.
MORE INFORMATION ON THIS SUBJECT
MATTER CAN BE FOUND IN
THE NIGHT THE DEFEOS DIED: REINVESTIGATING THE AMITYVILLE MURDERS.
BUY IT HERE
CLICK TEXT TO OPEN
CROMARTY NEWS CONFERENCE
DOUG SPERO INTERVIEW
DEFEO DEED JUNE 1965