Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Amityville Realtor Speaks Out on “Horror House” Experience

After exiting the infamous Horror house in Amityville in May 2010, realtor James Smith gave a brief interview to a Channel 4 News reporter who was standing outside the house. In his brief statement, James Smith re-opened a 30-plus year can of worms, claiming that he “got an eerie feeling” while in the home. “It felt like something was there,” James said, referring to the evil, unseen resident that has allegedly roamed these grounds for many years. In haste, James told Channel 4, “We took off and got out of there.”

For more than a year James Smith has remained silent about the matter. Although he has been contacted by a plethora of news organizations asking him to relay his story; he did not want the publicity. But now he believes that he has a story of importance to tell the world; one that he can no longer keep to himself. Several weeks ago Mr. Smith contacted me and agreed to provide an exclusive taped interview in which he revealed his entire experience in the house that day.

James Smith and his family moved from Manhattan to Amityville in 1978, just down the street from the infamous horror house on Ocean Avenue. James recalls immediately hearing about Ronald DeFeo Jr., killing his entire family in the house and about the family that moved in after the DeFeo’s (the Lutz family) having fled from the home after only 28 days, fearing that it was haunted. One night—in a display of anger—young James and his friends decided to go and throw rocks at the house. He also remembers the circus-type atmosphere that followed rumors that the house was haunted.

James became a real-estate agent in 2003, doing a lot of work in the Amityville area. As a licensed agent, James had the opportunity of not only hearing about listings before the general public got wind of them, but he was also able to view any house that was on the market. On 25 May 2010, James got the news that the Amityville horror house (108 Ocean Ave.) was holding a broker open house.

The broker open house was being facilitated by Laura Zambratto of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty—the firm listing the property. James arrived with his female co-worker (who asked to remain anonymous – we will call her Jane for the purposes of this article). As they entered the home and climbed the stairs to the second floor, Jane said to James, “Something feels weird, doesn’t it?” James looked at her and said, “Yeah, it does.” However, he was placating Jane at that time; he didn’t feel anything. He simply wrote her comments off as angst, on her part, over being in the horror house. They continued previewing the house along with two other agents from another realty company and Laura Zambratto.

Their final previewing destination was the basement area. When they reached the cellar area, where the oil burner is, Jane again got spooked, this time even worse then before. “Did you feel that?” she asked James. “OMG,” James relied, “yeah, I did!” James felt the temperature in the room drop suddenly. He looked up and saw a hole in the wall and felt a very eerie feeling that he still has a hard time describing: he says that this hole was emanating freezing cold air.

James Smith: There was a hole there. It was about 15’ by 15’ and, hey, Will, I can’t even describe it, but it was such an eerie, eerie feeling. Cold air was coming out of this hole…it was very cold, very, very cold. Now we are in the summer, it was the summer; it’s probably 90 degrees outside, and the air that was coming out of that hole was like someone opened their freezer door.

In describing the hole a bit further, James said that there was a concrete wall with a square hole in it, as if someone had purposely took out these brinks. He said that he could see inside the hole only about 12 inches, and he noticed dirt, but it was pitch black otherwise. As he descried the air coming out of the hole, he made it a point to inform me that it wasn’t just rushing out of the hole; it was more like someone had just opened up the freezer door of a really big freezer. He said that he immediately got goose bumps and everyone in the basement was experiencing something similar, from his point of view.

James Smith: The room just felt like…I’m trying to describe it exactly. You know that feeling when you are sleeping and you can tell someone is looking over you, someone is standing there before you even see them, and then you open your eyes and you see someone standing there? That’s what it felt like. So, we all looked at each other and we took off!

James then says that the entire group decided to leave the house at that time, in a hurry. As they exited the house, a reporter from Channel 4 News scurried over to James—apparently she could see by the way they exited the home that something out of the ordinary was occurring. “What happened, what’s going on?” she asked him. Jane was clearly shaken up, and she hurried to the car to gather herself. She didn’t move for a few minutes; she just sat in her truck. According to James, the other two agents, who he had never met before that day, said aloud, as they exited the house, “I am not going back in that house!” And they got in their cars and sped off. He says that they were visibly shaken as well, but did not speak to the media. James then proceeded to give the reporter a brief interview.

James Smith: I am the biggest skeptic that there is, and if I was by myself, I would have just thought that maybe I have too much of the Amityville Horror movies in my head. But because I was with other people and we all were having the same feelings, it legitimized the experience.

James further described the basement experience as feeling as though he was at a high altitude, such as up on a mountain. He said that he didn’t get shortness of breath or anything, it just felt like he was high up, as if his ears were going to pop. He also explained that it was not like they just walked into the basement and it was cold. It wasn’t until they were down there for a few minutes that they all noticed the drastic temperature change, “as if the ambient temperature just dropped suddenly.”

Laura Zambratto also spoke to Channel 4 News, but she gave a different account. “The house is so spectacular—the warmest, most beautifully done, charming house I’ve been in,” Zambratto says. “There’s not one thing about the house that makes you feel uncomfortable.” She also denied any haunting activity. To this James replied, “Of course she is going to downplay or deny anything that happened; she is trying to sell the house, and there was a lot of money at stake for her in the deal.” James swore to me that he is telling the truth about his experience in the house and he sounded very convincing.

Will Savive: So you think that the owner of the house at the time, Brian Wilson; he had to know that there was some occult activity occurring there?

James Smith:
[chuckle] Hey, listen, let me tell you something: it’s one of those things where, you know how, for example, like a crime will happen in a neighborhood and the police don’t know anything about who did it, but everyone in the neighborhood knows who did it? [lol] You know what I mean?

Will Savive: [lol] Right

James Smith: Let me tell you: just living in that area for so many years, everyone was just very hush, hush that whole incident, because nobody wanted the frenzy. I can tell you back in the 80s, it was just horrendous in that area! The media attention, I mean, there were people coming like trying to pick the shingles off of the house, and camping out. It was to the point where they had the streets blocked off, and if you didn’t have ID [identification] you couldn’t even go down the block.

Will Savive: Wow!

James Smith: It was so crazy that people didn’t want to give a statement. And I know what they mean, Will, because I did that one interview for that woman, and I tell you, I probably…I don’t know how people got my cell phone [number], but my cell phone, I had about, at least 16 different news organizations contact me. And my office phone would ring non stop. I mean people from newspapers in other countries were calling me. Of course, all the local news papers were calling me: Newsday, Daily News, the New York Post, they were all calling me to get this story, and I’m like ‘Are you kidding me?’ People were showing up at my office looking for an interview.

In August of 2010, Cars lined Ocean Avenue and surrounding blocks and hundreds of people lined up outside 108 Ocean Avenue, as the owner of the home at the time, Brian Wilson, held a moving sale. Caution tape and bodyguards helped to keep the sale under control, and it was announced that only 20 people at a time could enter the home. No one reported any strange activity on that day; however, the basement and the upstairs rooms of the house were not open for viewing. After originally going on the market with an asking price of $1.15 million, the home was sold to David and Caroline D’Antonio for $950,000 in September 2010.

Mentally Ill in Amityville 2nd Ed (Kindle Book Available Now - $5.99)

MIA (2nd Ed)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Spotlight on Raffaele Sollecito’s Different Versions of Events

Much of the talk about the Meredith Kercher case has been on Amanda Knox, with her boyfriend at the time, Raffaele Sollecito, getting a media pass. Aside from Knox’s voluntary spontaneous statement to police claiming that she may have been at the home during the murder and heard Meredith screaming while Patrick Lumumba was killing her; Raffaele’s versions of events on the evening of the murder are undeniably the more conspicuous of the two suspects. Perhaps that is why he decided not to testify!

Story # 1:

Just two days after the murder, Raffaele Sollecito gave an interview to Kate Mansey of the UK’s Sunday Mirror in which he explained his first version of the events.

“It was a normal night. Meredith had gone out with one of her English friends and Amanda and I went to party with one of my friends.”

Raffaele has never identified this imaginary friend or party since this interview, nor has he ever spoken of this version since.

Raffaele also claims in this interview that Knox was afraid when she noticed that spots of blood in her bathroom, and “she ran back” to his flat in fear. This is quite contrary to what Knox said on the witness stand during trial.

Amanda Knox Testimony (June 12, 2009):

“At first I thought they had come from my ears. But then when I scratched the drops a bit, I saw they were all dry, and I thought ‘That’s weird. Oh well, I'll take my shower.’”

After that, she dried her hair, got dressed and calmly returned to Raffaele’s apartment.

Amanda Knox Testimony (June 12, 2009):

“…Then he came out and we made breakfast, and while we were preparing it and drinking coffee, I explained to him what I had seen, and I asked him for advice, because when I went into my house, everything seemed in order, only there were these little weird things, and I couldn't figure out how to understand them.”

This is hardly the panicked girl that Raffaele described.

A few days after the interview, police intercepted a call between Raffaele and his father. During the call, according to police, Raffaele’s father said to him, “Raffaele, don’t walk about with a knife; if police find it on you who knows what they may think.” Raffaele responded by saying, “Well, they have already questioned me and they didn’t find it on me, those stupid policemen.” Raffaele was speaking of a small flick-knife that he was known to carry around. This conversation prompted police to call him in for further questioning, which ultimately led to his and Knox’s arrest. Coincidentally, experts for the defense argued that the Marietti knife that the prosecution offered up as the murder weapon was too big to have caused the wounds on Kercher’s neck, and that a smaller knife, such as a flick-knife probably caused the fatal wound.

Story # 2:

Raffaele told police that he and Knox stayed at his flat the entire night of November 1, 2007 (night of the murder).

Story # 3:

During his November 5, 2007 interrogation and subsequent arrest, Sollecito wanted to come clean, and he told police that his previous version to them was “un sacco di cazzate” (a load of rubbish). “In my former statement I told you a load of rubbish because I believed Amanda’s version of what happened and did not think about the inconsistencies.” (The Times, 7 November, 2007).

In this version, he told investigators that he and Knox returned to his flat at approximately 8:30pm, and that Knox left his apartment, while he stayed there, and she returned at around 1:00am. He claimed that he believed that she went to see if she had to work that evening. This was clearly an attempt to exonerate himself from any culpability, as Knox had received a text message from her then boss, Patrick Lumumba, at 8:19pm that evening informing Knox that it was slow at the bar and she would not be needed to work that evening.

Story # 4:

Some like to point the finger at police and say that they were forceful during their interrogations with Knox and Sollecito and that is why they both changed their stories so much. However, after his arrest, Raffaele wrote several letters to his father while in prison. One letter to his father explained in detail the version above. This was written under no duress. In the letter, Raffaele explains to his father that he and Knox had arrived at his flat at about 8 – 8:30pm on the night of the murder. “Amanda had [then] left for work,” he writes, but he could not remember how long she was gone—but he writes that he is “certain” that Knox had stayed with him the “entire night.”

Explaining Amanda to his father in the letters, Raffaele wrote of her:

“She lived her life like a dream, she was detached from reality, she couldn't distinguish dream from reality. Her life seemed to be pure pleasure; she had a contact with reality that was almost non-existent.”

Then, he shows uncertainty whether or not Knox had committed the murder (or knew something about it) and blatantly calls her a liar...Raffaele writes to his father:

“I try to understand what Amanda's role was in this event. The Amanda that I know is an Amanda who lives a carefree life. Her only thought is the pursuit of pleasure at all times. But even the thought that she could be a killer is impossible for me. I have read her version of events. Some of the things she said are not true, but I don't know why she said them.” has compiled all of the unanswered questions pertaining to the case (SEE HERE) that have been asked over the years and featured them in one article. Please visit the link for a comprehensive look at all of these and many other questions still left unanswered.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Knox Appeal: Judgment Day (Part 2)

On the 16th anniversary of the O.J. Simpson acquittal, Amanda Knox stood in the courtroom waiting for her fate to be read. The verdict was read and just like O.J., Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were acquitted of all charges except the defamation charges for accusing Patrick Lumumba of being the murderer (released on time served)—and somewhere, the ghost of Johnnie Cochran was smiling (If a portion of the DNA doesn’t fit, you must acquit)! Immediately, some of those who had predicted that Knox was guilty had changed their tune. Many celebrated; others mourned and geared—as this was clearly a win for injustice and only for injustice.

Did the Italian court cower to political or media pressure? How could they have discounted the mountain of evidence—including other DNA evidence against Knox—based on two pieces of DNA evidence that were contested in the appeal? One piece of evidence (the knife) and the other (the bra clasp) were the only two pieces of physical evidence being contested by the defense in the appeal. Were those—and of course, Anthony Curatolo’s testimony—the only evidence that originally convicted Knox and Sollecito, as the media would have you believe? Of course not. The media’s misinformation is well documented and rampant on this case…HERE is just a portion.

So, how did they discount the most convincing evidence of all—the 5 mixed DNA/blood spots of Knox and Kercher (Read Analysis 1 HERE & analysis 2 HERE)? Well, we will only know in 90 days, when Judge Hellmann’s motivation report is published. This decision was certainly historic, and proves that money, a good PR campaign, and media spin can get you anything. The lies of Knox and Sollecito—which I and many others have detailed so often—the mountain of evidence against the two, judge Massei’s 427 page report detailing their guilt (along with judge Micheli’s report detailing their guilt) has all been discounted by these two judges and six jurors.

Now Know has returned to the states and will undoubtedly benefit substantially from the shortcomings of the Italian court system. The saving grace for the two defendants was certainly the fact that Sollecito never took the stand, as he would have clearly imploded under the weight of his multiple lies. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist or even a forensic specialist to know that people who lie several times have something to hide. This is of course aside from the physical and circumstantial evidence against them as well.

Public figure, Nancy Grace, is finally speaking out on this case—saying that there is NO innocent explanation for Knox’s second written confession placing her at the house (with Patrick Lumumba) and including observations that only someone who really was there could have known. When asked about the verdict, Grace said:

“I was very disturbed, because I think it is a huge miscarriage of justice,” Grace said. “I believe that while Amanda Knox did not wield the knife herself, I think that she was there, with her boyfriend, and that he did the deed, and that she egged him on. That’s what I think happened.”

In Knox’s final statement Monday, she told the court that she was not present the night Kercher was brutally murdered in their shared apartment. Grace said she did not think Knox is telling the truth. “I believe her original statement to the police - that she was there in the home when her roommate was murdered was true,” Grace told Access Hollywood. Knox should pray that Nancy Grace does not get on her case the way she still is on Casey Anthony’s, because she could use the facts of the case to turn the American public against her, and that would be a different type of jail sentence for Knox.

Even CNN, who have been outspoken, staunch supporters of Knox, posted an article after the verdict asking: “Is she a two-faced she-devil, angelic and compassionate to some but Satanic and Lucifer-like to others?” It seems as though after the verdict has been read, the story of her innocence has slipped a bit, and the tide is slowly turning towards: What really happened and is Knox actually innocent? In other words, many media sources are now jumping on the controversial band wagon, as they do so often, because they know it draws readers.

No American media outlets wanted to hear anything from sources believing in Knox’s guilt before Monday’s verdict, because that wasn’t “news.” This will all change soon, and the opposing views (or controversial views) will be welcome soon, if not already (ala Nancy Grace). The fact that Nancy's comments have been so widely reported and popular now, but were ignored months ago when she basically said the same thing on "The View" and her own program before speaks volumes for "what's hot" in media at the moment. Google reveals that her recent comments are on about 38,000 Sites.

But there is so much more to this story than just Knox's spontaneous statement. For anyone ignorant to the facts and true evidence of this case looking for clarification, you would be wise to read the Massei report (read entire report HERE and summary HERE) or visit, or of course you can read Study Abroad Murder, which details all 50 days of the original trial and analyzes all the evidence in detail.

Justice is not always done in the courtroom. Even though the statue of Lady Justice wears a blindfold, humans look at the faces. Yet, this is the system we have, whether in Italy or in the U.S., we must deal with the mistakes, particularly the high profile cases, which come under much more scrutiny, but many times faulter to public and political pressures—the O.J. Simpsons, Casey Anthonys, and now the Amanda Knoxs of the trial world.

Surely the prosecution will appeal to the Supreme Court of Cassation, but they can only retry the case if something was done incorrect or wrong, which may be the case, as much of the evidence of the first trial was discounted without even being reexamined. The 90 day motivation report by Judge Hellmann will be very interesting to read and highly anticipated. This story is far from over!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Knox Appeal: Judgment Day (Part 1)


The day has finally arrived: the day that will decide the fate of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito. The last session has already begun and is currently underway. Luciano Ghirga started off the proceedings today with his closing argument rebuttal. Ghirga spoke firmly to the court, declaring Knox’s innocence. Sollecito took the floor after Ghirga. He started off by saying that he would “…never hurt anybody.” Raffaele pleaded to the court to release him, telling mostly of the horror he has endured over the last few years.

“I’ve never met Rudy Guede before the trial,” he adamantly protested. Although he spoke freely today, he refused to testify and face cross-examination in this appeal or the original trial. Sollecito did not speak of the circumstances surrounding the murder or his involvement or lack thereof. He didn't spend any time talking about the details of his "innocence;" he only seemed to play the sympathy card and how horrible the last few years have been for him while in prison. He went as far back as meeting Knox, but then he skipped the details of where he was during the murder and went right to the police interrogation in his speech, which I believe is very telling on his part.

Moreover, he actually said:

“No one ever asked me to testify and I don’t know why. But I was ready to talk in front of you, in front of the court to explain any doubt, but nobody—not in this process [the appeal] or the previous one [the original trial] has asked my examination. So I am here, in a way, to say freely the facts, what I’ve gone through and who I am.”

This is a very strange statement to say the least, as he surely knows and was advised that he could take the stand, but refused. Wearing a “free Amanda & Raffaele” bracelet, Sollecito used symbolic, ritualistic theatrics, saying that he has never taking off the bracelet since he received it sometime ago. He said, “Now is the time to take it off,” and he did so as he closed out his plea for freedom. He also appeared very unemotional, and he even smirked once when he began talking about the “free Amanda & Raffaele” bracelet, as if he was making a profound statement or a bad joke.

Amanda Knox addressed the court immediately after Sollecito, at 4:30am Eastern Time in the United States. She stepped to the mic with no written speech; perhaps deciding to speak off-the-cuff; perhaps committing an earlier speech to memory. Speaking in fluent Italian, Knox addressed the court in a shaky voice, starting off by explaining that she was nervous. As she got rolling, her hand gestures became very animated. “I am not what they say I am: perversion, violence. I have not done the things they say I’ve done; I wasn’t there that night!” Amanda reiterated many of the things that she has said over the years. She said she was friends with Meredith; she wasn’t at the cottage during the night of the murder; she is innocent, etc.

“I want to go back home, I want to go back to my life. I am innocent; Raffaele is innocent; and we deserve to be free.”

Judge Hellman then warned the audience. “This is not a football game. There is no room for gossiping. We have to remember that a beautiful girl has died a horrible death and that the lives of two young people are in play. So when I am reading the verdict I want respect and silence.” Judge Hellman announced that he does not expect to return back with a verdict before 8pm local Perugia time (2pm eastern time U.S.). And with that, the judge informed that deliberation would start at that time: 4:41am.

There are four possible scenarios in regard to today’s outcome. It will take a majority vote of the six jurors and two judges to throw out the conviction. If they are evenly split, Knox and Sollecito will be free. The second is that the court could decide to uphold the conviction and reduce their sentences. Thirdly, the court could uphold the conviction and honor the prosecution’s request to increase Knox’s sentence to life in prison. Lastly, and in my opinion: the most likely; the court could choose to uphold Knox's original conviction and order her to serve the remaining 22 years of her sentence in Italy. Regardless of the outcome, either side could appeal the verdict to Italy's Supreme Court.

A press conference was then set up outside the courtroom, where the streets were filled with journalists and spectators. Sollecito’s lawyer, Giulia Bongiorno addressed the audience, continuing her declarations of innocence. No one knows what time that the verdict will be read. Even Bongiorno told the media that it is impossible to predict how long that the deliberation will be.

Knox and Sollecito were whisked away in a police van. They were brought back to prison to await the verdict. They will be notified when a decision is reached and brought back to the court to hear the reading.