Amityville is perhaps the most famous Warren case out there, and thus it the most thoroughly investigated. As Stephen King predicted in his book Danse Macabre, the Amityville narrative has become a kind of campfire ghost tale, effective as a spine-tingler but likely fabricated, or at least mostly so.
The facts are these: In 1974, in the Amityville neighborhood of Long Island, NY, Ronald DeFeo Jr. murdered his entire family in the middle of the night, later claiming he heard voices plotting against him, which motivated his actions. Roughly a year later, the Lutz family – George, Kathy, and their three children – purchased the DeFeo home (including some of the DeFeo furniture) and moved in. The Lutzes later claimed they experienced unexplainable phenomena, nightmares, and encountered entities of a demonic nature. The public at large became aware of their story following the 1977 release of the book The Amityville Horror by screenwriter turned novelist Jay Anson, and even more so with the film adaptation, which appeared in theaters two years later.
There are countless articles revealing the Lutzs’ haunting as more fiction than fact, including statements made by Ronald DeFeo’s lawyer, William Weber, who claims he, Kathy, and George Lutz consumed “four bottles of wine” one evening and had “a creative writing session about what kind of thing could go into writing a horror book,” according to ABC News. George and Kathy Lutz always maintained that their experiences were real, and their son Daniel even made a documentary, called My Amityville Horror, in which he effectively expands upon the lore. Perhaps something truly unexplainable did happen to the family in that short month stay in the DeFeo murder house, perhaps not.
We’ll likely never know for sure. But where do the Warrens fit in with all this? They participated in a “psychic slumber party” some two months after the Lutzes abandoned their new home in the middle of the night, followed by a camera crew from a local news affiliate. Lorraine sensed great malevolence in the house, and insisted it was infested with demonic entities. A photograph was allegedly captured of one such entity, though it is likely just one of the crew members in the house that night.
This TV appearance catapulted the Warrens as experts in the field of paranormal research, despite the fact that they presented no concrete evidence of their findings that the Amityville house was haunted or “infested with demons,” and that they furthermore had no real evidence in any prior cases they had worked on. But the fervor for this “true ghost story” had already begun, reaching a fever pitch with the release of The Amityville Horror film in 1979, and cementing the Warrens’ reputation for years to come.