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This gun was just pulled from the canal behind America’s most famous haunted house. It could change everything we thought we knew about the grisly murders that took place there 38 years ago.


Photographed by Bill Pfeiffer | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

The team of divers on the Coles Avenue bulkhead in Amityville, New York, just one block down from the most famous haunted house in America, quiets for a heartbeat.

“Please say again,” recovery diver Bill Pfeif­fer replies into the transmitter.

“We’re gonna need an evidence bag,” repeats geophysicist Kyle Kingman, from the motorboat, floating 70 feet out from the bulkhead in the empty canal. “We have a part of a pistol.”

“It’s definitely a pistol?” Pfeiffer asks.

“Definitely.”

It’s January, and the upper-30s waterfront weather is chilly, but mild by the standards of Long Island winters. The sun is out, but most of the locals’ boats have been put away for the season, and the canal, which runs behind a tidy row of large Colonial homes with private boathouses, feels deserted.

When the gun’s discovery is announced, the team of a half-dozen or so recovery divers and underwater archaeologists breaks into a scene of restrained excitement.

It’s then that Ryan Katzenbach—the man paying for everyone to be there—jumps onto the bulkhead. The 37-year-old filmmaker sports a patchy beard, a permanently flushed face, and a uniform of torn jeans and sports shades that makes him look like a cross between Dan Cortese and a Wayne’s World extra. He had stepped away to take a phone call, and when he got back and saw the commotion—caused by the crew he brought here as part of the production of Shattered Hopes, his documentary on the Amityville murders—he knew instantly what they had found.

“Are you shitting me?!” he screams.


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