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.
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