The Associated Press is reporting that George Lutz, whose purportedly true experiences inspired the AMITYVILLE HORROR book and movie franchises, passed away at age 59 on Monday. A formal announcement was made by his lawyer, Larry Zerner, yesterday along with the specifics of his death. Lutz had been residing in Las Vegas and, according to an area country coroner, died due to heart disease.
Lutz and his wife Kathy were propelled into the spotlight and became the subject of heated conversations and speculation everywhere when their account of living in a particular sinister abode at 112 Ocean Avenue on Long Island for 28 days became the subject of Jay Anson’s AMITYVILLE HORROR book. Lutz was later portrayed—in one instance more loosely than in the other—by actors James Brolin and Ryan Reynolds in the 1979 film adaptation and its erroneous 2005 remake, respectively. And although the early ’80s saw the breakdown of his marriage with Kathy, who died in 2004 from emphysema, Lutz fought both in the courtroom and in the press to defend his family and the ordeal they experienced in 1975.
“To those of us who knew him, George was a lot more than ‘Mr. Amityville,’ ” writer/filmmaker Daniel Farrands tells Fango. Farrands grew acquainted with Lutz while helming The History Channel’s two-part documentary on the AMITYVILLE incident (which appears on the recent DVD of the ’79 film) six years ago. “Despite claims to the contrary by certain individuals who’ve expended far too much energy over the years trying to perpetuate a negative image of him, I will always remember George as being a decent, intelligent and infectiously funny human being. He never shied away from answering anyone’s questions about the events in Amityville that made him semi-famous. In my experience, he never wavered in his testimony about what happened—and what didn’t happen—in the house.
“It’s unfortunate that so much disinformation has made its way into the world via venom-laced books and websites, and how quickly others were to judge the motives and actions of a man they’d never even met. But even as he stood his ground in an endless series of lawsuits and ugly vendettas, I was always astounded by George’s ability to stick to his guns while still maintaining his humanity and sense of humor. Whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, I believe that’s an example of a life well-lived.”
A memorial service for Lutz will be held next Monday, and his family has asked that any flowers and/or donations be sent to the Epic Church/Compassion Ministry, 8755 West Warm Springs, Las Vegas, NV 89148. Lutz had maintained an informational website aptly called AmityvilleHorror.com, though at the moment, the site is respectfully closed in memoriam.