In a later legal dispute, Weber claimed he and George Lutz concocted the whole story "over many bottles of wine." But believers point out that he had an incentive to trash Lutz, since they were suing each other. In a contract for a book proposal Lutz and Weber considered, Weber wanted Lutz to agree to take a lie-detector test — something he arguably wouldn't have done if he knew it was a hoax. (George and Kathy ultimately took lie-detector tests from a nationally recognized firm — and passed them.)

George Lutz contacted Stephen Kaplan, a paranormal researcher, but the two had a rapid falling out, and Kaplan spent the next 20 years debunking the Amityville story.

The Lutzes then met Anson and turned over to him a series of tape recordings they'd made, describing the ghostly events. He produced the book from these recordings and suggested in the book's afterword that he'd attempted to verify the alleged facts. Critics like Kaplan scrutinized every line in the book and found countless flaws. Weather reports revealed no snow had fallen in Amityville on the day George claimed to have seen Jodie's huge, cloven tracks in their snow-filled yard, and that no storm had occurred on the day they fled the place. The book stated that the front door had been blown off its hinges, but the home's new owner went on TV to show it was in perfect shape. A mysterious "red room" was just a closet under the stairs. And so on.

The controversial concept that any part of the family's story is or was true continues to this day. Both surviving Lutz boys (Daniel kept his stepfather's last name) say they are now telling the "real" story of what happened, which only adds fuel to a ceaseless online debate.

The perpetual argument of whether the horror was or wasn't a hoax (or if it wasn't a hoax, which parts were or weren't true) vexes Quaratino, who believes he should be considered an authority on the subject. But he hasn't proved savvy when it comes to public relations or dealing with movie-studio types.

He's watched as filmmakers and authors raked in the cash over the past two decades, sometimes depicting or mentioning him as if they really knew something about him. No matter how hard he's tried, he's been unable to steer the narrative — or the profits — his way.

Trapped in an American ghost story of his stepfather's making, Quaratino learned he couldn't beat them — or join them.

He's only a fictional character to Hollywood.


Jay Anson, who secured the movie rights for his book, made tens of millions of dollars on the Lutzes' story. Both the original movie and MGM's 2005 remake grossed more than $100 million. Quaratino's claim of what could be called a half-billion-dollar cottage industry from his family's story might not be far off.

He estimates his parents earned $400,000 to $450,000 over their lifetimes because of the Amityville Horror. After the release of Anson's book, the Lutzes moved to San Diego, then Phoenix. They divorced in 1988. The next year, Christopher, after incessant teasing by fellow soldiers (he served in the Army's 10th Mountain Division in the first Gulf War) officially changed his last name from Lutz back to Quaratino.

"After that, I never wanted anybody to know who I was," he says.

(Now that he wants to make a movie, part of his e-mail address is amityvillekid, though.)

Over the years, the exaggerations about the long-ago events in Amityville snowballed in the movies.

Quaratino says he would ask his stepdad, who died in 2006, about the ridiculous things in the 1979 film and its sequels, and George would always tell him that the movies were full of bunk — but that Anson's book was authoritative.

Quaratino read it for the first time in 1999, before he was interviewed for a History Channel special on the Amityville Horror.

He was flabbergasted by the nonsense even in Anson's work.

"Now I'm seeing why the public perceives this as a hoax," he says. "What I'm reading, to me, is bullshit."

He went off on his mom, he recalls, which he feels "terrible" about now. She died in 2004 of emphysema.

Quaratino went public in the early 2000s, writing online that not only had George apparently lied about parts of the tale, but that the true parts came about because of his stepfather's dabbling in the occult.

Quaratino believes that his stepdad — whose experience with the occult was limited to a few books he'd read — intentionally repeated the names of demons during meditation sessions, calling malevolent forces to the home. That explains why the Lutzes reported that supernatural events followed them after they left Amityville (the Anson book states that George and Kathy levitated at their new residence and saw "green slime" moving up stairs) and why no one living in the Ocean Avenue house subsequently reported any problems.

Whatever the cause, bad feelings festered in the family. George and his stepsons fought over the rights to use the family's images in later entertainment projects.

In 2003, Quaratino, hoping to cash in from online interest in the legend, registered the domain name www.amityvillehorror.com. But George, who'd had the phrase "Amityville Horror" trademarked the year before, sued him. Quaratino countersued, noting that the trademark said the brand name concerned "a series of nonfiction books," even though George had admitted publicly that at least parts of the series were bogus. Stepfather and stepson ultimately settled the suit, and Quaratino turned over the domain name.

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29 comments
charlie_oscar
charlie_oscar

I saw this house in the 80's when everyone was driving by... The locals all said it was not even the house that the incident happened in...It just looked better for the movie set because of the windows. THAT is the real truth...

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Is this law Racist? Does it specify brown people?Are the people who agree with this law racist?Are those who want this law enforced racist?The law says nothing of little "brown" people but it explains what is illegal entry. It's not very hard to understand. Why is this law "broken"? Why can it be selectively ignored?Illegal alien includes all people who entered illegally, could be Croation, Russian, Chinese, Irish, Canadians and yes even Mexicans. No one single race or people is referenced in the law. Under Title 8 Section 1325 of the U.S. Code, "Improper Entry by Alien," any citizen of any country other than the United States who:Enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers; or Eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers; or Attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact; has committed a federal crime.Violations are punishable by criminal fines and imprisonment for up to six months. Repeat offenses can bring up to two years in prison. Additional civil fines may be imposed at the discretion of immigration judges, but civil fines do not negate the criminal sanctions or nature of the offense.These people cost Pheonix and surrounding cities hundreds of millions to support the education, health and welfare of these illegal immigrants. A landscape worker paid by cash (no taxes) and his wife (a stay at home mom), have been here for 16 years and had 7 children born in the US. Who do you think paid for her medical bills???Why isn't Obwama dealing with this?We can not afford 4 more years of Obwama!!!When will Obwama end the illegal Mexican occupation of the United States of America?When have 12,000,000 people occupied a country other than a time of war?

John Collins
John Collins

Do you people ever comment on the article? Is AZ full of retards?

Mamacira59
Mamacira59

Who else do we expel? The Chinese? The Puerto Rican? The Haitians? The Africans? No not the Africans...We can use them as slaves? The native Americans? We have already done that. The Arab Americans? Yes, they are the terrorists. Are they not? Where are you going to be when there is no one left? Huh, Mr. Doo Doo?

Mamacira59
Mamacira59

I agree w/Steve of having no borders. I am not a citizen of the US but I am here legally. As for you Mr. Dumoudan (doo-doo) you need to stop occupying the US as well. "Doo-Doo" (Dumoudan) does not sound like a native name to me. I was a "Mitchell" at one point in time. That is an American name. And that is if you consider white folks to be the original people of this land. If you want to stop the occupation of this nation, start with yourself. Let's see how you spin this sh_t of your last name. Oh yeah, go ahead and state that this is my synonym. Go look up the word....

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

When will the Mexican occupation of the United States end?

Steve
Steve

Country borders reflects the greed each gov't and its population have. They give themselves a false power of controlling the earth when in reality the earth owns us. There are no borders, the earth belongs to all human beings. There was once no borders, people could travel anywhere and contribute to each community. You want to follow rules that your gov't makes? The same gov't that tries to screw you over? Take all your money and not do anything with it?

Dumoudan is racist. You fail to realize the cheap labor these Mexicans made helped the economy VERY MUCH.

Is it a coincidence that the economy is destroyed after they decide to target the people who worked for low wages and helped ALL companies save money therefore would grow into much bigger companies that brought more jobs to the US population?

Nope, no coincidence. Americans dont want to work in the fields, they dont want to work in construction (unless they are the boss). Americans want to sit in an office. A country cant grow if you dont have a strong workforce that will do the dirty work so everyone else can have a comfortable life.

Learn to appreciate the hard work of another human being. Your home was most likely built by one of the people that you try to drive out of the country. The food you eat was picked and sorted and packaged by the people that you want to drive out of the country.

Be a freakin human being, you make me sick with your child-like naive way of thinking.

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Are you saying that 12,000,000 people entering the US without the benefit of going through a legal port of entry is not to be taken seriously? Wouldn't you consider these 12,000,000 illegal immigrants to be occupiers? Why are we turning a blind eye to this very serious issue? What has to cross the border illegaly before th US admits that we in fact do have a propblem. I am trying to wake people up before it's too late. The poimt of these statements , even though they may not relate to the article where posted, is to keep pushing peoiple to finally do something about this OR change the immigration laws and open the borders to EVERYONE. Would that be a good solution you think?

Dogbiter
Dogbiter

Hey, guy; who thinks Rick's not that smart. You are the one who isn't smart. In fact, you apparently are dumb as a board. Dumodan is all over the New Times website, making stupid comments of all stripes, and fighting with his detractors. He's on stories that have no bearing on his subject, illegal immigration. Look just below! Or look on the marijuana story in this issue. He's everywhere! Hardly a bot, fool. You're just another New Time hater because it refuses to embrace your Teabagger values. As the guy said below: "Go fuck yourself."t

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Ask a Mexican when he / she plans to end their occupation of El Norte?

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Is this law Racist? Does it specify brown people?Are the people who agree with this law racist?Are those who want this law enforced racist?The law says nothing of little "brown" people but it explains what is illegal entry. It's not very hard to understand. Why is this law "broken"? Why can it be selectively ignored?Illegal alien includes all people who entered illegally, could be Croation, Russian, Chinese, Irish, Canadians and yes even Mexicans. No one single race or people is referenced in the law. Under Title 8 Section 1325 of the U.S. Code, "Improper Entry by Alien," any citizen of any country other than the United States who:Enters or attempts to enter the United States at any time or place other than as designated by immigration officers; or Eludes examination or inspection by immigration officers; or Attempts to enter or obtains entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading representation or the willful concealment of a material fact; has committed a federal crime.Violations are punishable by criminal fines and imprisonment for up to six months. Repeat offenses can bring up to two years in prison. Additional civil fines may be imposed at the discretion of immigration judges, but civil fines do not negate the criminal sanctions or nature of the offense.These people cost Pheonix and surrounding cities hundreds of millions to support the education, health and welfare of these illegal immigrants. A landscape worker paid by cash (no taxes) and his wife (a stay at home mom), have been here for 16 years and had 7 children born in the US. Who do you think paid for her medical bills???Why isn't Obwama dealing with this

Gdoka
Gdoka

I went to school with Chris Lutz, at Salk School in Mesa, Az. 6th Grade Mr Betz.

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

We expel only those who enetered the US without the due process for immigration which is reporting to an Immigration agent at a legal port of entry. Is that too difficult for your pea brain to comprehend? If you don't like the existing law, change it. Do you think that's likely?

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Do you honestly beleive that illegal immigrants do not keep wages low?

Devil Dog 80
Devil Dog 80

SOme people I am finding out really would like to use Mexican Slavery as an excuse to keep the borders open. Heck they can still come over with a work visa, have no fear of deportation, and get paid more money and really put a dent in our economy and take more HIGHER paying jobs from us. And thus creating more Goverment Jobs and for the Un employed, they get goverment handouts and stay home and play video games right? Well let me tell you folks something, neither slavery not goverment aid help anybody. Once you take a persons need to work and feel like a needed human being and a family member, theres nothing but trouble in that persons live eventually. We tried this already, what we need is a LEVEL playing field, lower restrictions on businesses in US. Get more people back to work and quit draining OUR PENNY BANKS FOLKS! ANd fix this damn tax system ! But lets start coming together and quit stealing everyone elses future that even isn't born yet. My God wheres your morals.

Rick Barrs
Rick Barrs

Dumoudan, Please keep your comments on point with the story in question. This comment obvously has nothing to do with the Amityville story you've attached it to. You have posted such comments all over our website on stories that have nothing to do with illegal immigration. I'm kindly asking you to stop this practice and post such comments only on appropriate stories -- those about Mexican immigration. If you keep up your current practice, we will have to block you from commenting on our site. Respectfully, Rick Barrs, Editor

Dumoudan
Dumoudan

Rick, Why is your publication so partial to people who are occupying the United States? Are you and your "news" organization saying that 12,000,000 or more people entering the US without the benefit of entering through a legal port of entry isn't a problem? Why do you selectively show preference to illegal Mexican immigrants and not Chinese, Russian, Nigerian, Malaysian, Indian, Iraniains, or even Brazilian? Why do you prefer the Mexicans alone?

Rick_Not_Smart
Rick_Not_Smart

Rick, the person you've asked to stop spamming immigration comments is not a person.. it's a bot. How you are so stupid that you are unable to figure this out on your own is beyond me, but that being the case, let me explain what a bot is. It's an automated computer program designed to post the same basic message as much as it can in as many places as it can.

The fact that you have seen this bot post completely irrelevant and unrelated messages on comment pages more than once, and still didn't understand that it was a bot and not an actual person, says worlds to your intelligence. Any intelligent person, let alone any one who thinks they have any business reporting the news, would have picked up on this fact immediately.

I'm sincerely frightened that people of your obviously limited mental capacities are allowed to work for ANY sort of news company. No doubt your intelligence (or lack thereof) affects the quality of output compiled by the phoenixnewtimes, and as such, I can safely assume that your news is and probably always has been garbage.

Rick Barrs
Rick Barrs

Dude, I don't care what you post or what you prefer to think. Just post your rants on stories about illegal immigration. Simple. Hey, I've warned you.

Tom Bettany
Tom Bettany

Hey, you're the dumb ass, Check above, fucktard. I know this person. He's not a BOT. He has posted many different messages and even responded to others arguing with him. So go fuck yourself, you pompous, racist anti-immigrationist. Notice that you don't dare put your name on what you write, Fucking coward!

 
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