Amityville Horror house for sale

Picasso’s Femme Assise, painted in 1909, sold for US$63.7 million (S$85 million) at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday, making it the most expensive Cubist painting ever sold at auction. The painting depicts Picasso’s lover and model Fernande Olivi
Picasso’s Femme Assise, painted in 1909, sold for US$63.7 million (S$85 million) at Sotheby’s in London on Tuesday, making it the most expensive Cubist painting ever sold at auction. The painting depicts Picasso’s lover and model Fernande Olivier. It was last sold at auction in 1973 at Sotheby’s in London for about US$500,000 in today’s dollars.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

The house where a family was killed inspired bestseller and two films

WASHINGTON • In 1974, it was an expensive and stately Long Island estate, nestled in a vintage-home village, with a white sign out front that read: "High Hopes".

But the house on Ocean Avenue in Amityville was darkened that year by a gruesome mass murder that claimed every family member there - except one.

Ronald J. DeFeo Jr, 23, was convicted of fatally shooting his parents and four siblings and was given six concurrent sentences of 25 years to life.

The story inspired a best-selling book and two films titled The Amityville Horror. Now, the infamous home where DeFeo killed his family is on the market for US$850,000 (S$1.1 million) - and was named Realtor.com's "most popular" house last week.

The listing agent insists that the property's past is not hurting its marketability.

"We have several offers from local Amityville residents who are very much aware of the history and are not at all concerned," Mr Jerry O'Neill, who owns Coldwell Banker Harbor Light, said.

Built in 1927 at 112 Ocean Avenue, the three-story waterfront home boasts five bedrooms, 31/2 bathrooms and a basement, according to the listing. Zillow shows that the home was last sold in 2010 for US$950,000.

Mr O'Neill said the home has been owned by four different families since the murders - including one who requested that the address be changed. It now sits at 108 Ocean Avenue. The original address no longer exists, Mr O'Neill said.

The DeFeos had lived in the home for about nine years when, one night in November 1974, most of the family were found dead, Newsday reported at the time. Ronald and Louise DeFeo and four of their five children, who ranged in age from nine to 18, were discovered lifeless in their bedrooms, still wearing their pyjamas. The police said they were shot and killed as they slept.

The couple's only surviving son, Ronald DeFeo Jr, was arrested. At his trial, his lawyers argued that he killed his family because voices in the home had convinced him to do it, according to news reports.

And so The Amityville Horror stories began.

The 1977 book and hit movie focused on what happened after the murders: George and Kathy Lutz and their three children bought the home for a bargain, but wound up fleeing in terror. George Lutz claimed that the family smelt strange odours, heard strange noises and felt a strange chill in the air, according to ABC News.

But The Amityville Horror drew many sceptics and DeFeo's attorney eventually said the book (written by Jay Anson) and the movie (directed by Stuart Rosenberg) were hardly true crime stories.

However, Lutz stuck to his story, saying: "I'm tired of being called a liar."

In 2013, one of the Lutzes' children, Daniel, gave his own account in a documentary called My Amityville Horror, in which he said the horror was real.

But Mr O'Neill, the listing agent, said none of the other home owners have said they were haunted, telling Zillow's blog, Porchlight: "There've been four owners since the murders and none of them ran out of the house screaming, and there were no strange experiences."

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2016, with the headline 'Amityville Horror house for sale'. Print Edition | Subscribe