By Sean Casteel
The very name of the small Long Island, New York, community instantly conjures visions of horror, of a death-dealing psychopath laying waste his parents, two sisters and two brothers with a Marlin rifle. The egregious murders were chronicled in both a bestselling book and a major Hollywood studio movie and have become, pardon the pun, a “household name”: The Amityville Horror.
The convicted killer was Ronald DeFeo, Jr., whom one judge called “the devil incarnate.” DeFeo told varying versions of what happened the night of November 13, 1974, including the claim that he was possessed by an evil spirit and had committed the crime through no free will of his own.
While it is of course impossible to decide the existence or nonexistence of the devil and his demons in a court of law, the evil-spirit-possession argument was entered along with an insanity plea. Ultimately, Defeo received a 25 years to life sentence for each of his victims and remains in prison today.
But is it so easy to simply scoff at Defeo’s claim to have been an unwitting agent for the devil? Could it possibly be that Defeo was telling the truth of what happened?
This is one of many issues dealt with in the book recently issued by Timothy Green Beckley’s Inner Light – Global Communications publishing house. Entitled “Amityville and Beyond: The Lore of the Poltergeist and Other Petrifying Paranormal Phenomena,” the book breaks relatively new ground in making some overdue correlations between spirit possession, ghosts and even the UFO/alien presence.
This overarching “theory of everything” hypothesis can perhaps be credited originally to the late John A. Keel and was later expounded upon by the very prolific Brad Steiger. But Beckley and his hard working crew of contributors aim to take this theory and definitively tie up the loose ends and connect the many different forms of paranormal activity at play in the world today.
A PARANORMAL RESEARCHER’S EARLY POLTERGEIST ENCOUNTER
Paul Eno is among the topnotch researchers Beckley has assembled for the writing of “Amityville and Beyond.” Currently Eno hosts, along with his son Ben, a radio show called “Behind the Paranormal” based in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
“American history is full of poltergeists and nasty and vengeful spirits,” Eno writes. “Much has been written about the Bell Witch that frightened a U.S. president so badly that he fled in the early morning hours from a Tennessee homestead. Furthermore, this book contains the full story of the dreadful Amherst poltergeist, which is just as scary as any similar saga of evil you are likely to hear about from an historical perspective.
“My attitude about such cases,” Eno continues, “is a bit more ‘radical’ than the views of other researchers, who tend to treat such poltergeist outbreaks as either restless spirits gone awry or put them in the general category of a purely psychological manifestation attributable to the witnesses’ psychological state. I see such outbreaks more akin to a crossing of parallel dimensions by a variety of beings often mistaken for the undead – though they seem to have, in many instances, the same attributes as so-called ‘aliens.’ Even cryptids from the darkest realms of our minds have recently been brought into the poltergeist equation.”
Here Eno has very succinctly expressed the overall theme of “Amityville and Beyond,” that aliens and cryptid creatures like Dogmen are cut from the same cloth as “noisy ghosts” and possessive demons. Eno at one time was an assistant to the famed Ed and Lorraine Warren, the husband/wife paranormal researchers whose work has been the subject of the movies “The Conjuring” and “The Conjuring 2.”
Eventually, Eno broke away from the Warrens because he found their ecclesiastical approach to poltergeists and their subsequent use of exorcism to rid a person of the “demon in charge” to be too steeped in religious folklore and superstition. Eno says he found that reading jokes from a book did more to dispel the presence of the “devil” than the sprinkling of holy water by a priest.
In November 1974, Eno found himself on Lindley Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut, along with Ed, Lorraine and Father William Charbonneau, and an indeterminate number of police and reporters. And a very frightened family.
“The latter consisted of Gerard Goodin and his adopted daughter and only child, Marcia (pronounced Mar-SEE-a),” Eno writes. “Shortly Mom (Laura Goodin) returned from the St. Vincent’s Hospital Emergency Room with her right big toe bandaged. It had been broken by a flying television set. The house itself was a mess. ‘The Thing,’ as Laura called it, had been tearing pictures, especially religious objects, off the wall all morning. A priest had come to bless the house, apparently to no avail.”
Calling it the best-witnessed poltergeist event in history, Eno says that violent phenomena were witnessed by almost 100 people in the Bridgeport outbreak. Eno was on the scene himself when some of the bizarre incidents transpired.
“I stood in the kitchen,” Eno writes, “with three firefighters on one side of me and three police officers on the other and watched the refrigerator float off the floor, turn right, turn back, then settle gently back to the floor. Late in the evening of that first day, I was sitting at the kitchen table with Lorraine. Also in the kitchen was a huge police officer, Ed Warren and a reporter from WNAB Radio. Lorraine suddenly let out a yelp. I watched as a second-degree burn, with its trademark white blister, appeared on Lorraine’s left hand, between thumb and forefinger. This was all caught on the radio reporter’s tape, which still exists. You can hear a youthful me stating, ‘There’s a blister forming!’”
TOUCHING THE NEAR-INVISIBLE
At another point during Eno’s visits to the Bridgeport home, he was alone in the house with the Goodins, playing monopoly with Marcia to pass the time and to help her relax.
“Suddenly an acrid smell, like ozone mixed with sulfur, came from the kitchen,” Eno recounts. “Instantly Gerard Goodin was up, dashed into the kitchen and started chanting in Latin! My skin tingled with an electrical charge that I now associate with the electromagnetic ‘branes,’ as physicists call them, presumably the boundaries between parallel worlds.
“A whitish, gauzy cloud began to form in the kitchen,” Eno continues, “and Goodin was back in the living room at once. I was convinced that four entities were ‘arriving’ in the kitchen from Marcia’s adjacent bedroom. They weren’t entirely invisible, and there were four distinct shapes coming from the kitchen in a line. They were each about four and a half feet high and had rounded tops, with no discernible head or shoulders.”
Goodin saw the figures also, and he followed one as it moved from the kitchen. As the mystery entities entered the living room one by one, Laura Goodin started to cry while Marcia clung to Eno for comfort. Then one of the almost-invisible things approached Eno and stopped.
“That’s when I made my mistake,” Eno confesses. “I began to feel angry toward this thing, which at the time I thought was a demon in the classic, theological sense. I was angry because it was obviously trying to get to this child. The whatever-it-was simply fed on the negative energy I was releasing and grew stronger.
“What happened next was the biggest shock I’d experienced in paranormal work up to that time. As the entity moved to get around me and at the girl, I instinctively pushed toward it. It resisted as though it was entirely material. In fact, I felt flesh and bone structure as if this were a solid being. These ‘demons’ were supposed to be spirits!”
Eno says it took him many years to come to grips with the experience, let alone explain it in terms of parallel worlds. He never even reported it to the Warrens, and it was decades before he could write or speak about it.
“While I stood there dazed,” he continues, “the entity got around me and threw Marcia across the living room. She ran back to me, crying. Finally, as the gauzy cloud inundated the whole interior of the house, and as I tired from, I would say today, being drained by this powerful parasite, I ordered everyone outside.”
Although the police had cleared away the crowds and cordoned off both ends of Lindley Street, there were still thousands of onlookers gawking from each end of the block.
“I could hear a voice in the crowd,” Eno writes, “preaching something about all this being a ‘sign of the end.’ These being the days long before cell phones, I had to use a neighbor’s phone to call the Warrens. It took them an hour to get back into the city because of all the traffic caused by this paranormal circus. When they finally arrived at about 9:15 P.M., we all reentered the house. Things were quiet.”
When Eno writes about the creature he pushed against as being almost invisible yet possessing a flesh and bone structure, what manner of being is this? It sounds not unlike the physical-yet-not-physical “bodies” of the familiar gray aliens whose stock in trade is the abduction of chosen subjects for whatever dark reasons are left for us to discover. As Eno so clearly explains, the aliens and demons who cross between dimensions may be one and the same entity but are given different names in scripture and folklore that vary according to who encounters the strange interlopers.
VOICES FROM THE DEVIL MADE THEM DO IT
While the saying is popularly true that “we all have our personal demons,” in some cases the demons can achieve total control of a hapless individual. In a chapter of “Amityville and Beyond,” the celebrated Brad Steiger makes a case for genuine demonic possession being at the root of many a murder. He also talks about the demon/alien connection.
“There are many among us,” Steiger writes, “who have every reason to accept the Ultra-Terrestrials as demonic, akin to the poltergeists that plague our darkest nightmares and create havoc all around those they decide to target. If humankind is indeed interacting with an extraterrestrial species then those UFOnauts, the ‘Grays,’ as they are currently nicknamed, may be representatives of technologically superior reptilian or amphibian humanoids.
“These serpent people have been interacting with Earth for millions of years,” Steiger continues, “either appearing in cycles of programmed visitations or steadily monitoring our species’ technological and societal development from underground or undersea bases. At some point in their many centuries long interaction, some Ultra-Terrestrial entities began to exploit humankind in foul, lascivious and wicked ways. Whether they be extraterrestrial or multidimensional in origin, they have become known to those unfortunate humans with whom they have interacted as evil, cruel and demonic beings.”
Steiger says the reader can easily see that Ronald DeFeo, Jr., was not alone. Steiger provides a frightening list of killers who claimed they were driven by evil “voices” to commit their crimes.
For example: In January 1990, authorities searching an Ohio farm commune found the slain bodies of a family of five – all victims of human sacrifice. Jeffrey Lunden, a self-declared prophet of a new religion, had decreed the sacrifices necessary to persuade the “forces” to present Lunden’s cult with a magic golden sword.
Another case: Daniel Rakowitz, suffering under religious delusions programmed by “voices” who called him the messiah and told him to form a new satanic religion, sacrificed his girlfriend in September 1989 to insure his messiah-ship.
One particularly gruesome case happened in 2000. Prosecutors charged a man in Great Falls, Montana, with killing a ten-year-old boy, butchering him, eating his flesh in specially prepared dishes, then feeding the remains to his unsuspecting neighbors. A psychiatric evaluation indicated demonic fantasies about cannibalism and the taste of human flesh. Encrypted writings found in the suspect’s home revealed a list of recipes involving the bodies of small children.
“The terrible power which drives and compels those obsessed with sacrificial murders,” Steiger writes, “is something so much more insidiously evil and complex than can be created by the distortion of creeds, ecclesiasticisms or belief structures. The monstrous voices that command men and women to kill others are not those of mortals. Those who have fallen under the deadly spell of the possessing Ultra-terrestrial-multidimensional entities claim to have been controlled by something outside of themselves – usually personified as Satan or one of his demons.”
AND THEN THE TERROR SPOKE . . .
Evil speaking voices are also dealt with in a chapter by Tim R. Swartz called “When the Poltergeist Finds Its Voice.”
“It can be terrifying enough,” Swartz writes, “when a poltergeist makes its appearance in a household. Rocks thrown about, strange bangs on the walls, moving furniture, items disappearing and then reappearing – this is enough to set anyone on edge. However, when a poltergeist finds its voice and starts to talk, you know that events have decidedly taken a turn for the worse.
“Poltergeist activity has been recorded throughout history,” Swartz goes on, “and is probably the most prolific of all supernatural events. A poltergeist is extremely aware of its surroundings and will often quickly respond to suggestions by observers and other external stimuli. This shows that there is some kind of ‘intelligence’ behind its pranks and not just some random psychokinesis (PK). This intelligence, along with an ability to communicate, will manifest in a myriad of ways. Pieces of paper with strange messages appear; writing on the walls; children’s toys will be arranged to make words; and, perhaps the most shocking, they will sometimes start to speak out loud.”
According to Swartz, when a poltergeist achieves speech, it generally starts as animal-like growls and whispers that slowly evolve into discernible words. Most poltergeists never reach this stage in their development, but, once they do, a clear “personality” emerges from what were previously just random events.
Swartz recounts some case histories in the annals of poltergeist hauntings in which the intruding spirit spoke to its victims.
The 1817 case of the “Bell Witch,” the name for the poltergeist who took up residence among a Tennessee farming family headed by John Bell, Sr., is an interesting example. “The Witch” was extremely talkative and could imitate the voices of people from the area.
“The poltergeist was said to speak at a nerve-wracking pitch when displeased,” Swartz reports, “while at other times it sang and talked in low musical tones. In one instance, it was alleged to have repeated, verbatim, sermons administered by two preachers, occurring at separate locations, that took place simultaneously. The sermons recited by the witch were verified by people attending the churches as being identical in voice, tone, inflection and content. The poltergeist was even known to attend church and sing along with the congregation, using the most beautiful voice anyone had ever heard.”
Stories of a talking mongoose named Gef, who bedeviled an Irish family in the 1930s, as well as the tale of a Spanish family who heard maniacal laughter and voices emanating from their kitchen stove, help to round out Swartz’s examination of real-life incidents of “talking” spirits.
He also touches on the Middle Eastern folklore and Islamic theology dealing with the “djinn,” or genies, who can take possession of buildings or locations and torment any person who goes to live there. The djinn can levitate and cause objects to disappear as well as take any physical form they want – humans, animals and anything else. They can mimic the voices of deceased humans, claiming to be spirits or Satan. They enjoy playing tricks and frightening people. In fact, they can feel strong emotions such as fear or grief and gain energy from those powerful feelings.
“Like humans,” Swartz writes, “the djinn have distinct personalities. There are those who are of low intelligence, quick to anger and fond of playing tricks. Others have a superior intellect and act more along the lines of guardian angels rather than tricksters.”
WHEN AN ULTRA-TERRESTRIAL APPEARED IN A UFO WITNESS’ HOME
Timothy Beckley has been marching to the sound of a “different drummer” for more than half a century. He rightly admits that when it comes to most UFO cases he has “been there, seen it and investigated it.” He started out publishing a ten-page mimeographed newsletter when he was but 15, and over the decades has edited/published such widely circulated zines as “UFO Review” and “UFO Universe,” both sold on newsstands worldwide. And while he now claims to be “semi-retired,” Beckley’s prestigious para-physical publishing house still grinds out a couple of new titles every month.
“More and more, it became clear that there is only a thin line that separates what is known as poltergeist phenomena and events of a UFO nature,” Beckley remarked. “I always say what happens in a séance room or a haunted house is very similar to what you can expect to find at a UFO landing site or in the home of a UFO percipient.”
Beckley says that for a period of several months during the summer of 1982, members of a family he knew quite well were at the center of some unexplainable events which were triggered by the appearance of a circular device – a UFO – that was seen hovering across the street from their premises. Shortly thereafter an eerie presence could be felt as if some “adopted entity” had joined the family.
Voices were heard in the basement and at the bottom of a well. Children saw a silver suited being on the perimeter of their property and a shadowy figure was seen to walk behind the refrigerator and disappear into the wall.
The lady of the house goes on to describe in detail some of the bizarre incidents which took place and which tended to drive everyone “crazy.”
“From time to time,” the woman told Beckley, “it would feel like someone would come into the bedroom at night and would push against the bottom of my mattress. Sometimes I would be overcome by the feeling that I wasn’t alone, although nobody was physically in the room with me. One time, I was lying on my left side facing the wall and I felt a poke like someone’s finger jabbing into my shoulder.
“The business with the mattress happened almost every night. In addition, a photograph of my youngest son, aged two, kept falling from the wall This happened so frequently that finally I decided to leave it down where it couldn’t break.
“One night, I got bumped on the mattress and I thought that someone was trying to speak to me. I sat up in bed and said, ‘What did you say?’ I was able to hear the sound of someone talking but was unable to distinguish any words.
“Later, when my daughter arrived home, I told her about the voices and she said she’d heard them a few times as well. Actually, she seemed truly petrified. It seems that they had been bothering her for a while, but she was afraid to mention it to anyone for fear we would all think she was crazy. She said the voices would call her by name, but even though I was in her company when this happened, I could never hear anything.
“Things really got out of hand the day before Labor Day. Everybody had gone out to see the fireworks display put on by our neighborhood carnival and I was sitting around the kitchen getting the food ready for the next day when I heard a sound coming from the basement. It was the sound of someone walking across a board that had been placed at the bottom of the stairs to cover an open sewer pipe. When you step on it, it makes a little plunking sound, and someone was going back and forth across it repeatedly and it was driving me crazy.
“Not wanting to get hysterical and trying to brush the matter aside, I kind of laughed and thought, ‘Oh, I’ve got company.’ It was like a feeling of not being alone. Now and then, I got a little upset because it plunked a little too loud. I would stand out on the porch for a little while just to clear my head and then go back into the house.
“When the family got back from the fireworks display, I told them what had happened and that I had this strange feeling that I wasn’t alone. When I explained what had happened to the boards, my daughter replied they had been hearing that all day long but didn’t want to say anything about it. Her husband and my oldest son also heard it. My daughter’s husband even got up a couple of times to see if it was the kids fooling around and there was nobody there. He said, ‘It would sound just like someone was walking around down there and then when you went to look, you couldn’t find anything.’
“Our ‘friend’ seems to like my air conditioner. One night the dogs were barking out back and there was nothing outside. I shut off the air conditioner in order to go and check on the dogs. When we were below my bedroom window, my husband said, ‘The air conditioner isn’t on.’
“I said, ‘No, I shut it off so I could hear the dogs better.’
“So, we were out back of the house trying to figure out what was wrong with Max. He had plenty of water and food. It wasn’t that. He wasn’t nervous, like he was that other time. He wasn’t shaking. The dog was upset about something in the air.
“All of a sudden, my husband turned and said, ‘What was that?’
“I asked him, ‘What’s what?’
“He said, ‘The air conditioner just went on. Then it went off again. But just as we went by the window, it went on again.’ There is no way to shut it off and turn it on without pushing the buttons. When I had shut it off, it was on ‘Off.’ When we went back indoors it was ‘On.’
“I said, ‘Well, thank you, whoever you are. It is hot in there.’
“My husband said, ‘I know that thing was off. I know that thing went on and off a couple of times.’
“I said, ‘I know, it’s George.’
“He said, ‘Well, tell your friend to leave. I don’t want him hanging around here.’
“I said, ‘You tell him to leave.’ We went to bed and there wasn’t any more trouble that night.”
THE OUTER LIMITS OF ‘LITERARY’ FEAR
There is much more to be found in “Amityville and Beyond,” including chapters from a multitude of contributors as well as dozens of spooky illustrations. One can read about the night author and radio show host Joshua Warren spent in “America’s Most Haunted Bedroom;” paranormal investigator Michele Lowe bears heart-pounding witness to the spirits left behind in the aftermath of a murder-suicide; the rise of interest in poltergeist and paranormal lore that was part of the counterculture of the 1960s; the notion of cryptid creatures like the Dogmen, as studied by Pennsylvania researcher Butch Witkowski, as being physical embodiment’s of demonic extraterrestrials – the list goes on.
At the very least, “Amityville and Beyond: The Lore of the Poltergeist and Other Petrifying Paranormal Phenomena” delivers on the promise of its title and provides a great many scary, scary stories. Whether this nonstop horror show could all be a matter of real-world events is up to the reader, but you will in any case get a generous serving of fascinating tales of what happens when evil takes control and some among us mere mortals can only be its unhappy prey.
SUGGESTED READING AND AUDIO CONTENT
(OVER 150 INTERVIEWS WITH TOP RESEARCHERS ARCHIVED.)