Stephen Kaplan (September 19, 1940 – June 9, 1995) was a noted paranormal investigator, vampirologist, and founder/director of the Vampire Research Center and the Parapsychology Institute of America, both of which were founded in Suffolk County, New York and subsequently relocated to Elmhurst, Queens. He was a popular author and radio commentator, best known for his vocal skepticism of the alleged Amityville Horror hauntings. Kaplan lived in Suffolk County, New York and worked for the New York City Board of Education.
Overview of the Amityville Horror dispute
The picturesque home known as the Amityville Horror was made famous in 1974 when Ronald “Butch” DeFeo, Jr. shot and killed his parents and four younger siblings there. On November 21, 1975, DeFeo was sentenced to serve six sentences of 25 years to life. George and Kathy Lutz moved into the house on December 18, 1975. They remained in the house for one month before fleeing, citing hauntings, demons, and other unexplained disturbances.
Jay Anson’s 1977 book The Amityville Horror chronicles the paranormal events leading up to their departure from the Lutzes’ perspective. The book became a runaway bestseller, and was made into a popular movie starring James Brolin, Margot Kidder and Rod Steiger.
Kaplan’s The Amityville Horror Conspiracy counters Anson’s work, and argues that Lutz deliberately defrauded the public.
According to Kaplan, on February 16, 1976, shortly after the Lutze’s abandoned the house, Kaplan received a phone call from George Lutz. At the time, Kaplan was the executive director of the Parapsychology Institute of America, based on Long Island and a frequent guest on the WBAB radio program Spectrum with Joel Martin”.
Lutz requested that Kaplan and his associates at the Parapsychology Institute investigate the home. As Kaplan recalled in his account of the incident, The Amityville Horror Conspiracy, this initial conversation immediately aroused his suspicions as to the validity of George Lutz’s claim that the house was haunted.
Kaplan claims Lutz asked about a fee for the group’s services and Kaplan told him that they did not charge for the investigation but that “if the story is a hoax…the public will know.” Shortly after, Lutz called and canceled the investigation.
George and Kathleen Lutz claimed that Kaplan’s credentials did not check out and that his claiming of himself as a vampirologist made them leery of any involvement with the case. This isn’t the first time they were questioned, either. Ed and Lorraine Warren had defended themselves with this when questioned about the Amityville Horror Conspiracy.
Much of the claims and debates between the Kaplan’s and the Lutz family can be viewed in a documentary entitled Amityville: Horror or Hoax distributed by the History Channel. Both sides can be viewed and heard as stated by the actual people who were involved.
AAPHR (Association to Advance Parapsychology and Hypnosis Research) Appreciation Award in recognition of outstanding contributions to the First National Parapsychology Convention, October 14, 1978.
The Rev. Dr. Montague Summers Memorial Award, Count Dracula Society, 1977
Dudley Wright Commemorative Award for special achievements in promoting the field of Vampirology, Journal of Vampirism, 1978
Albert Einstein Award, Success, Inc., PA
Parapsychology Hall of Fame, 1982
AAPHR Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Award for outstanding research, October 21, 1983
Hypnosis Hall of Fame, 1987
City College of New York: BA in Sociology
City College of New York: MS in Education
SUNY at Stony Brook: MS in Interdisciplinary Studies
Pacific College: PhD in Sociology
Kaplan, Stephen. In Pursuit of Premature Gods & Contemporary Vampires. Self-published, (1st Edition 1976).
Kaplan, Stephen. Vampires Are. Palm Springs: ETC Publications, 1984. ISBN 0-88280-103-1 / ISBN 978-0-88280-103-2
Kaplan, Stephen and Kalpan, Roxanne Salch. The Amityville Horror Conspiracy. Toad Hall, (1st Edition 1995). ISBN 0-9637498-0-3 /ISBN 9780963749802