The truth of what really happened in the sleepy village of Amityville, New York, in the fall of 1974 is far more disturbing than the paranormal tall tales that made "The Amityville Horror" a household name.
Twenty-three-year-old Ronald "Butch" DeFeo calmly and methodically shot his two parents and four younger siblings in their beds. He quickly confessed under police interrogation, claiming that "voices in the house" told him to do it. He was sentenced to six consecutive life terms after his insanity plea was thrown out [source: Bovsun].
A year after the murders, the Lutz family -- George, Kathy and their three young children -- moved in to the infamous three-story Dutch Colonial where "Butch" had butchered his loved ones. As a precaution, they hired a priest to perform an exorcism. The priest reported a voice in the house growling "Get out!" and then his hands started to bleed.
Undeterred, the Lutz family spent a harrowing month in the Amityville house, plagued by unexplained chills, gobs of slime on the floor, and even Mrs. Lutz levitating over her bed [source: ABC News].
The Lutz family fled the house, eventually moving to California where the parents collaborated with a writer on the best-selling novel "The Amityville Horror," a generously fictionalized account of the family's 28-day ordeal [source: Bovsun].
The book's wild popularity spawned several Hollywood films and a dozen more books.
DeFeo's own lawyer says he and the Lutzes made up most of the story after consuming several bottles of wine. Indeed, no one who has lived in the house since then (it's still privately owned in 2015) has reported any paranormal activity [source: ABC News].