Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Amityville in Teaneck

Suddenly the Amityville Horror house is in the news again. Even the venerable Wall Street Journal had an article about the new owners of the home where Ronald DeFeo Jr. shot and killed his parents and four siblings as they slept in their beds back in 1974.

While the new owners say they're not happy about the attention their purchase of the house has brought, you have to wonder why they're granting interviews to the media. And they were unaware of the home's history till after they signed the lease?

It's true the house doesn't look the same as it did back in the 1970's as the iconic quarter round window have been replaced with regular double hungs, but you'd think when you're moving into Amityville some bell would sound in your head and maybe ask, "Hey, this isn't the house from that horror movie is it?" Apparently not.

But I never bought into claims by DeFeo that the house was possessed and he heard voices telling him to kill his family. As much a I love Halloween and all the creepiness it entails, I don't actually believe in ghosts and spirits, supernatural beings, or paranormal normal activity. Hey, I love watching Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures just as much as the next guy, but I don't believe a word of it. In fact, and at the risk of offending those who may be religious, I'm also an atheist. So I think that when you die that's it. You go in the ground and rot. The possibility that your corpse might arise again -- however cool the concept is for my haunt -- is not something that can happen.

Having said that, about four year ago I bought the house I live in and had converted the third floor room into my office where I would sit and write all day. Built in 1921, I expected it would have its share of creaks and being very much a realist, I'm always able to find a rational explanation for "paranormal" activity that occurs, or at least to know that there is a rational explanation even if I can't find it at the moment.

Always, that is, except for two times. While sitting in my office one morning working assiduously on the day's output, I was suddenly brought upright (I sit hunched over) at the sound of a footstep on the stairs on the first floor. At the time I lived in the house alone and no one would just walk in unannounced. Having been the victim of a burglary one time before, I always have my doors locked, even when I'm at home.

I sat there listening for a moment when I very clearly heard someone ascending the stairs from the first floor up to the second. This wasn't just a creak or two, this was solid footfalls on the wooden treads. The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up as I imagined someone had broken in, so grabbing my trusty .38 cal. Smith & Wesson from the draw next to me, I quickly ran down the stairs to the second floor. It had happened so quickly -- from hearing the footsteps to grabbing the gun and going down the stairs -- that I should have actually run into the person coming up. Except there was no one there.

I went down and checked the doors and windows and they were all locked and secure. I wasn't able to find a rational explanation for that incident, and it happened one more time with no one being on the stairs. I still like to refer to it a my run-in with my ghost.

My ghostly friend visited me once again, just a month or so ago. I was sitting in my living room watching TV and home alone once again. My wife had gone out with her daughter and I was thoroughly enjoying my alone time. As I sat there, I felt like a puff of air on my left arm. It ran from about the middle of the forearm up to my shoulder.

Now it was summertime and the windows were open and I had a fan running in the dining room so I dismissed it as coming from one of those sources. About two minutes later, though, it happened again. I looked at the windows and the sheers my wife has hanging across the windows were completely still. The trees in my yard were also still. In fact, the air was completely dead.

Now I thought it possible it was the fan in the dining room, except that the dining room was off to my right so presumably any breeze from the fan would have been felt on the right side first, no? Also, it would have had to go across my body, but this breeze went from front to back. In essence, if it was the fan, it entered the room, completely avoided my right arm and chest (okay, stomach, I'm not petite), made a left turn and ran up my left arm.

So real was this breeze -- really, it was like a puff of air someone might blow out of their lips -- that I thought maybe my wife had snuck back into the house somehow and was hiding behind the couch and playing with me (she loves to hide around corners and jump out and scare me. I'm sure she's after my life insurance money). Except that would have required the air to run from back to front instead of front to back. I checked the doors again and they were still locked.

So those are my two run ins with activity that I can't give a rational explanation for. At least I didn't hear anyone telling me to "Get out!"


  1. I share the same non-religious belief that there is no paranormal, but I still love stories like yours. I have never in my life experienced anything paranormal, and I'm a death investigator. My dad had a story from the 70's that he won't tell anymore, but I suspect that given the age, the pot may have been involved.

  2. Despite being a non-believer, I love ghost stories. I've always been fascinated by death and it was one of the reasons I became a cop. Having seen my share of bodies in the throes of death or its aftermath I'm not afraid of the dead.

    One day maybe I'll tell the story of having to share a couch with a corpse for an afternoon waiting for the M.E. to arrive. Maybe you'll share the one from your dad! I'm sure it's a hoot. Heh!



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