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Originally published Sunday, May 8, 2005 at 12:00 AM

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Ex-resident of house debunks much of Amityville "horror"

As a child living in the house made famous by "The Amityville Horror," he saw a menacing, shadowy figure approach him, and he remembers...

Newsday

As a child living in the house made famous by "The Amityville Horror," he saw a menacing, shadowy figure approach him, and he remembers the night his bedroom window kept banging open and shut.

But forget the green slime dripping from the walls: Many of the events in "The Amityville Horror" books and movies were exaggerated to the point of fiction, said Christopher Quaratino, the only one of three children who lived in the allegedly haunted house to speak publicly about it.

"So far there's been three representations of what happened in that house," Quaratino said. "And not one of them" — not the book, not the movie, nor a remake released last month — "is accurate."

Quaratino was 7 when his mother, Kathy Lutz, and her new husband moved the family into the Amityville, N.Y., house where Ronald DeFeo had killed six family members with a rifle the previous fall. The family moved out after 28 days.

Now 37 and living in Scottsdale, Ariz., Quaratino maintains the haunting was not a hoax. But he insists his stepfather at the time, George Lutz, brought the troubles on himself by dabbling in the occult and then amplified what paranormal incidents did occur to profit off books and movies about the house.

"He's a professional showman, in my opinion," Quaratino said of Lutz, whom he said he clashed with many times before leaving home at 16. "I just feel as though we're being exploited."

Lutz sued his former stepson in Nevada district court in 2003 over what Quaratino said are allegations of trademark infringement and fraud relating to a future Amityville movie planned by Lutz. The case is open; a counterclaim filed by Quaratino was dismissed in January.

Lutz, 58, who lives in Las Vegas, did not return calls seeking comment. He and Kathy Lutz, who died last year, divorced in 1988.

Quaratino's brother, Daniel Lutz, did not return a call seeking comment. His sister, Melissa, could not be located.

According to Quaratino, when the family moved into the house in 1975, George Lutz was "extremely curious of everything paranormal" and tried to summon supernatural beings by chanting.

"I don't know that I'd call it black magic, but it was ... a way to call up spirits," he said.

Some of the alleged incidents detailed in "The Amityville Horror" book — such as unseen forces ripping the front door from its hinges — never occurred, Quaratino said.

But he insists he did have run-ins with the paranormal, including the time he saw a presence "as definite as a shadow" in the shape of a man that moved toward him and then dissipated.

Quaratino said he wants to set the record straight from Lutz's version. "He points his finger at the house and says there's something evil there," he said. "Fingers should be pointed at what he had done. ... He's a perpetrator and an instigator."

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