The History Channel just showed two documentaries about the "Amityville Horror", a movie that, even when edited for TV, I wasn't allowed to watch because it was all too scary.
For those unfamiliar with the story: In 1975 Richard "Butch" Defeo, the oldest son of a family of seven, murdered his six family members with a rifle in a single night. He was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder and given six consecutive life sentences. He sits in a New York prison to this day.
The house, located on 112 Ocean Avenue in the Long Island town of Amityville, New York, was sold approximately twelve months later to George and Kathy Lutz. They have reported experiencing a large number of very strange occurrences, eventually frightening them so badly that they left the house with all their belongings still inside, apparently less than 28 days after moving in. They "returned the house to the bank" (the History Channel didn't explain exactly what this meant), auctioned off all their belongings, and moved to California, never to return.
Their story was so interesting that a best-selling book was written about it, and later a hugely successful movie was made based on the book.
Now, notwithstanding the fact that I think anyone who tells an exciting story for profit is automatically suspect, the Lutz's willingness to sacrifice a considerable investment both in money and belongings over things they experienced in a house tends to indicate to me that something happened to them. But I noticed a pattern that was not remarked on in either documentary. Consider:
I think these observations lead to an interesting hypothesis: could the Lutz's have been poisoned? All the evidence cited above tends to indicate this to me. The hallucinations, the mood changes, the obsessive behavior, the gradual increase in "symptoms" over time, the gradual decrease in experiences even after leaving the house, all tend to be hallmarks of poison as I understand it. Could the "secret room" have been where Butch Defeo manufactured or used drugs? Perhaps he had a "stash" somewhere else in the house that started getting into the water? Or maybe the plumbing itself was simply broken, allowing mold or fungus to grow and leach toxins into the water.
As I said, it's a hypothesis, and like all good hypotheses, it makes predictions that can be tested. Specifically:
If my hypothesis was proven to hold up and make the transition to theory, it would in no way invalidate the Lutz's experiences... hallucinations can be terrifying, especially when unexpected. But I think it would go a long way to explaining most, if not all, of what happened without the need to invoke the supernatural.
It's not as sexy as an evil presence, but I think no less intriguing. Unfortunately since subsequent residents have never reported any "haunting", it would appear that if there was a poison of some sort, it isn't active today. We may never know.