LAS VEGAS -- George ''Lee" Lutz, whose brief stay in an Amityville, N.Y., house spawned one of the most famous haunted house stories ever, has died of natural causes. He was 59.
Mr. Lutz, a Las Vegas resident, died Monday, his lawyer, Larry Zerner of Los Angeles, said yesterday. The Clark County coroner listed the cause as heart disease.
Mr. Lutz, a former land surveyor, became famous after moving his new bride and three children into a three-story Dutch colonial on Long Island in 1975. About a year earlier, six members of the DeFeo family had been shot and killed in the house. Ronald DeFeo Jr., the eldest son, was convicted of the murders.
The Lutzes lived in the house for 28 days before being driven out -- by the spirits of the DeFeos, according to Mr. Lutz's account. The family's eerie tales became the source for Jay Anson's 1977 book, ''The Amityville Horror," along with a 1979 film.
The book and movies chronicled horrors that include visions of walls oozing blood, furniture that moves, and a visit from a demonic pig named Jodie.
The franchise made a cult figure of Mr. Lutz, who some claimed bore a resemblance to Ronald DeFeo. He defended himself against some who accused him of intentionally moving into the house to profit from the DeFeo murders.
The Amityville tale and the rights to profit from it led to a tangle of litigation involving the Lutzes, publishers, and others.
After fleeing the home and abandoning possessions, the Lutzes moved to San Diego, briefly selling Amway products.