Is the Amityville Horror House Really Haunted?

The home at 112 Ocean Ave., in Amityville, N.Y., is perhaps the most famous haunted house in the world, known to countless horror fans as the setting for "The Amityville Horror." It's also currently for sale for $1.15 million, according to news reports.

But don't go looking for it – the current owners don't want you to find it. Previous owners, none of whom said they experienced anything spooky or supernatural, have remodeled it so that the signature quarter-moon windows are no longer there. They have also changed the house numbers to thwart annoying curiosity seekers, so the infamous address no longer exists.

The ghost story began in 1974, when six members of a family were killed in that house by their youngest son, Butch DeFeo. The house was sold the following year to George and Kathy Lutz, who moved in with their three children.

Soon after, the Lutzes said they encountered terrifying supernatural forces. A ghost ripped doors from hinges and slammed cabinets closed, noxious slime oozed from the ceilings, and demonic faces and swarms of insects threatened the family.

The Lutzes told their story to a writer named Jay Anson, who published "The Amityville Horror: A True Story," in 1977. It quickly became a best-seller, then a hit horror film that spawned nearly a half-dozen sequels. It's a scary story that spooked millions of people. But is it true?

Researchers who double-checked claims made by the Lutzes and Anson found numerous holes in the Amityville story. Researcher Rick Moran, for example, compiled a list of more than 100 factual errors and discrepancies between their story and the truth. Over and over, both big claims and small details were refuted by eyewitnesses, investigations and forensic evidence. Still, the Lutzes stuck to their story, and reaped tens of thousands of dollars from the book and film rights.

Eventually Butch DeFeo's lawyer admitted that he, along with the Lutzes, "created this horror story over many bottles of wine." The house was never really haunted; the terrifying experiences that the Lutzes described, and that were later embellished by Anson and other writers, were simply made up.

The Amityville Horror Hoax House may cost $1.15 million, but ghosts and demons aren't included.

Benjamin Radford
Live Science Contributor
Benjamin Radford is the Bad Science columnist for Live Science. He covers pseudoscience, psychology, urban legends and the science behind "unexplained" or mysterious phenomenon. Ben has a master's degree in education and a bachelor's degree in psychology. He is deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer science magazine and has written, edited or contributed to more than 20 books, including "Scientific Paranormal Investigation: How to Solve Unexplained Mysteries," "Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore" and “Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits,” out in fall 2017. His website is