This Fall, the TV show “America’s Most Wanted” started its 23rd season, continuing its run as the longest-running program on the FOX network. One of its creators was Michael Linder, an Emmy Award-winning TV producer and investigative journalist with roots as a radio broadcaster. Back in the mid-1970s, Mike was working at New York radio station WQIV, but was fired (along with most of the on-air staff) when the station switched formats from rock to classical music.
By early 1976, Mike landed a job as the news reporter for rival radio station WNEW. Around this time, stories began circulating about a supposedly haunted house in an upscale community on Long Island, the scene of a grisly family murder the previous year. Through a friend of his (the TV news director for Channel 5, which was associated with WNEW), Mike heard of an upcoming seance to be held at the home. It was to be Mike’s first assignment for his new station.
“I had done some paranormal research in the past,” Mike explains, recalling a previous paranormal experience he had in 1969. “I was living in suburban Cleveland. I remember being at a Ouija board seance with a group of friends in a house that they believed to be haunted. That seance produced a narrative that came out of the Ouija board that channeled a 19-yearold kid who drowned on the lake in the 1860’s with his dad, trying to rescue people on a boat that was in trouble in a storm. They were fishermen. They lived on the edge of Lake Erie. And when we asked things like, ‘What kind of fish did you fish?’
“Well there are no lake trout around Lake Erie anymore, but the local historical society said in the late 1800’s there were. So there was some historic corroboration and stuff that came out of that. It was a really interesting evening. Couldn’t debunk it. Had some historical accuracy to it. And I reported that story on the radio.
“I had also interviewed and studied people who had gotten very serious into paranormal research,” Mike continued, “So I had gone in there [Amityville] with an open mind, thinking,
‘Okay, I know this terrain, I’ve studied exorcisms and ghosts and know about putting salt in the corners of the rooms, all that kind of stuff,’ and I went in there thinking, ‘Well maybe there is something going on.’”