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It’s a notorious piece of American crime history and ghostly lore, and now you can live (or survive) in it.
It’s a five-bedroom, four-bathroom house, built in 1927, and located at 108 Ocean Ave. on the south shore of Long Island, N.Y. It’s blandly described in listings as a “stately center-hall Colonial.” The price is anything but bland: $850,000.
What’s missing from the cheery Coldwell Banker advertisement for the 3,600 square-foot “mint condition” home (with a quarter-acre lot, a two-car garage and a boat slip) is the deadly and alleged macabre history. The Amityville house was the scene of a shocking crime when at about 3 a.m. on Nov. 13, 1974, then-23-year-old Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed six of his family members, including his mother and father and four younger siblings (two brothers and two sisters) with a lever-action Marlin rifle.
Oddly, no neighbors recalled hearing any shots, and DeFeo Jr. claimed his family, who had lived in the home since 1965, was killed by Mafia hit men (a relative of DeFeo’s was alleged to be a figure in the New York Genovese crime family) before he admitted to the killings to the Suffolk County police. DeFeo allegedly told police too “the voices from the house made him do it.”
The story and what happened afterwards at the house was turned into a 1977 bestselling book, The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson, selling more than 10 million copies, as well as spawning more than a dozen movies, along with many TV documentaries. The first Amityville movie premiered in 1979 and featured actors James Brolin and Margot Kidder as George and Kathy Lutz, the couple who moved in after the murders.
The home, which has been on the market since early June, includes granite counter tops, a heated sun room, a fireplace and a home sprinkler system. A 30-year fixed mortgage for the home, assuming a 3.65% interest rate, the current $850,000 selling price and a 20% down payment of $170,000, would be approximately $3,120 a month, excluding taxes and insurance of $1,076 per month. Jerry O’Neill, the Coldwell Banker Realtor representing the sellers, declined to comment.
DeFeo Jr. was convicted of the murders in 1975, but the gruesome history of the home didn’t end there. Later that year, the aforementioned Lutz family bought the house for $60,000 and moved into the home (which had much of the DeFeo family furniture remaining) that December with their three children. They left after just 28 days, and according to the Anson book were allegedly witness to several grisly phenomena, including a voice telling them to “get out” and mysterious black stains on toilets and walls, with doors in the home ripped from their hinges, glowing eyes in the windows and foul smells and swarms of flies, even in the dead of winter.
But it was the creepy quarter-moon-shaped side windows facing Ocean Ave. that in both real life and the movies appeared like demonic “eyes” and captured the imagination of horrified Americans. Those windows were changed shortly after the sideways-facing house was purchased by Peter and Jeanne O’Neill in August 1987.
The home also has its charms, located on a quiet block in a quaint village of Victorians, it’s ideal for boaters, with a private slip, large boat house and direct access to South Oyster Bay along the Amityville River.
Moreover, the Lutz’s lurid account has been challenged repeatedly by several authors. Another couple, James and Barbara Cromarty, who moved into the home after purchasing it for $55,000 in March 1977, several months before the Amityville Horror book was published, said they never encountered anything that the Lutz family described. They did change the address from 112 Ocean Ave to the present 108 Ocean Ave to avoid the stigma of the old address and to confuse gawkers.
The Amityville home isn’t the only famous location to the hit the market recently. Several homes featured in films and TV have hit the market, including the Alhambra, Calif. home used for the 1991 movie “Father of the Bride” and the Lower Pacific Heights mansion that was used in the ‘80’s hit ABC comedy “Full House” and its Netflix reboot “Fuller House.”
Despite the hideous crime that occurred in the Amityville home, most states don’t require real estate agents and sellers to disclose any hauntings or murders that may have happened. They’re considered non-material defects, according to Roy Condrey, creator of the website DiedinHouse.com, a site with 130 million property records that promises to uncover demises that may have occurred at a property. Most states do not have any laws to disclose a death occurrence in a property no matter how it occurred, he told MarketWatch in 2015.
Still, one local Realtor, James Smith, who visited the house in 2010 the last time it was sold for $950,000, thought all was not right at 108 Ocean Ave. Smith noted a sudden chill in the home when he and others stepped into the basement, according to an account he gave to a local TV news reporter at the time, documented by the blog Savive’s Corner, run by Will Savive, an author and criminologist.
“You know that feeling when you are sleeping and you can tell someone is looking over you, someone is standing there before you even see them, and then you open your eyes and you see someone standing there? That’s what it felt like,” Smith recalled.
Not everybody is so mesmerized by the home’s gruesome history. Rena Barnett, a resident of nearby Amity Harbor who moved to the community last November, said not only is she certain the house isn’t haunted but her and other neighbors are getting tired of all the continued publicity and morbid tourism. “We just roll our eyes every time we hear the home’s on the market,” she said.
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