That fateful day… November 13, 1974

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article-2213078-15592C8F000005DC-404_634x347Forty years ago today in a quiet seaside village on Long Island in New York, a tragedy would occur which would be popular long after the ‘players’ were dead.

On the night of November 13, 1974, Ronald DeFeo, Jr entered the family residence and shot his entire family where they slept. His father: Ronald DeFeo, Sr; his mother: Louise DeFeo; his two younger sisters: Dawn & Allison; and his two younger brothers: Marc and John Matthew.

But it was not the subsequent investigation, trial and imprisonment of Ronald DeFeo, Jr which truly caught the eye of the American public, but the events at the same house nearly a year later which captured our imaginations.

Nearly a year after the gruesome events at the hands of Ronald DeFeo, Jr, George and Kathy Lutz moved into the house at 112 Ocean Avenue with their three children. They remained residents for a whopping 28 days before fleeing the home for good. Why? They claimed the house was haunted by a demonic presence.

It was this story which would overshadow the DeFeo murders and come to haunt the American psyche, especially after author Jay Anson published his book The Amityville Horror in 1977. In the book, Anson lays out all of the claims the Lutzes made regarding the house at 112 Ocean Avenue. Famed demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren were also brought in in 1976 to investigate the claims made by the Lutzes. Their opinions are also covered in the book.

I will admit that when I first heard this story many years ago, I too fell under it’s fearful spell. But then I discovered a website about the Amityville Hoax and after a thorough reading of that website, followed by a later viewing of an old crime investigation series City Confidential which covered in great detail the DeFeos and their subsequent murders, I became convinced that it was, in fact, a hoax.

I think what happened to the Lutzes was that despite initially stating that they’d have no problems living in a house where mass murder had taken place would be no problem, I think it got to them. There’s also the fact that a large portion of the DeFeo family furniture was still in the house; part of the deal of the sale. I know from personal experience that objects in a home which bring to mind negative memories can greatly affect you psychologically. I think it simply became too much for the couple to handle and they fled. Further adding to this is the fact that no one who has lived in the house since the Lutzes fled has ever experienced anything resembling paranormal.

This is the site which convinced me of the truth of the hoax: The Hoax in Amityville

Unfortunately, I am unable to find the City Confidential episode on YouTube.

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Haunted Long Island: The Milleridge Inn

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The Milleridge Inn: Jericho, NY

The Milleridge Inn in Jericho is one of Long Island’s most picturesque restaurants.  The original part of the restaurant was built as a two room house back in 1672 by the Willets, a Quaker family. The house grew along with Long Island. It was used to quarter Hessian and British soldiers prior to (and perhaps during) the Revolutionary War.  The home witnessed the winds of war and the onset of independence.

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Haunted Long Island: Pilgrim State Hospital

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Pilgrim State Hospital

If you live on Long Island, eventually you will pass the Pilgrim State Hospital site and wonder what the heck this huge building is. There’s really no escaping it.  Opened October 1, 1931 (we just missed its 80th Anniversary), it was at one time listed in the Guinness Book of records as the largest mental institution in the world. At its highest capacity, just after World War II, Pilgrim State housed over fourteen thousand patients. The massive property had its own Long Island Railroad station,  post office (with its own postmark), power plant, agriculture and livestock farms, cemetery, police and fire stations and water tower. The complex was made up of many different buildings on over a thousand acres.

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Haunted Long Island: Winfield Estate

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Winfield Hall - Glen Cove, NY

Long Island is unparalleled when it comes to gilded mansions of the Roaring Twenties. Tycoons with renowned names like J.P. Morgan, Vanderbilt and DuPont all built their “play palaces” there…it was the height of convenience.  The businessmen would spend the week working in New York City, while their wives and children enjoyed the estate life.  The men would join their families on the weekend. Lavish parties were commonplace as the millionaires all tried to outdo one another.

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Murderous May: Family Murder

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This story begins in a small sleepy village on the south shore of Long Island, New York. A place which was officially incorporated in 1894, though it was the home to Montaukett Indians long before then. In the early 70s, this seaside village was turned on its head and thrust down a road of infamy few residents appreciated.
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Cemetery Series: Long Island, NY

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I grew up on Long Island, where cemeteries were not confined to neatly landscaped parcels behind intimidating gates. Long Island is home to some of the oldest history in the nation and that history is peppered throughout each of the villages and towns. Where there is history, there is death.  Where there is death, there are cemeteries. In my town, it wasn’t unusual at all to have a burial plot in the front yard, or a family graveyard tucked in the back of your property. This segment of the cemeteries series is going to be a partial listing of small informal cemeteries found all over my old stomping grounds.
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