EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. -- Five minutes from the center of town, a short distance from the tony houses owned by art dealer Larry Gagosian and entertainment manager Sandy Gallin, sits a seven-bedroom English country-style manor house.
It's the kind of space people spend a lifetime working 60-hour weeks to acquire.
But today, the house looks somewhat run-down. The once-magnificent garden needs pruning. The front lawn facing Middle Lane is patchy. And the two people who own it have barely been home in more than a decade.
What can they say? They just really don't want to be there.
"There are lots of great memories," Greg Ammon, 22, said recently, as he drove up to the house with a visitor beside him, and his twin sister, Alexa, in the back seat. "But they're distorted by all the bad ones."
You see, 11 years ago, something terrible happened here. The father of Greg and Alexa, R. Theodore Ammon, 52, a former investment banker at Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the man from whom they inherited the house, was murdered. He was discovered by a colleague at KKR, who found him naked in his bed, bludgeoned to death. The police determined that the killer had used a stun gun on Ted Ammon and had bashed his head some 30 times.
It emerged that Ted Ammon had been in the middle of a bitter divorce from his wife, Generosa. She had been having an affair with her contractor, Daniel Pelosi, a man with an extensive rap sheet and a trigger temper.
It was media catnip. The New York Post set up shop and, over the next three years, published more than 200 articles about the incident and its aftermath. Vanity Fair and New York Magazine devoted features to the crime. Law & Order did an episode inspired by it. A TV movie aired on Lifetime.
And now, a decade later, Greg Ammon, the man who said he can barely bring himself to go inside his parents' house, has come back with Alexa to promote a documentary he directed about his father's death and the years that followed.
The film, 59 Middle Lane, which was self-financed, had its debut at the Hamptons International Film Festival in October. It was shown in November at a benefit for the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and for Jazz at Lincoln Center; Ted Ammon was the chairman of the jazz organization.
What made the Ammon case such a big deal -- and such an enduring story? In part, it's because murder in the Hamptons is virtually unheard-of.
And there was real suspense about the outcome. For a long time, there was a palpable sense of worry and excitement that Pelosi, who was a suspect right away and who later married Generosa, might go free, even though the entire tabloid-reading public was convinced of his guilt.
But that's getting ahead of the story, because during the two years before Pelosi was charged and went to trial, lots of strange things happened.
For one, there was a Hamptons man who alerted the media that he'd had an anonymous homosexual encounter with a man he believed to be Ted Ammon. Both Generosa and Pelosi's legal team used the story to bolster their case that perhaps Ted Ammon had been killed by a stranger. But it was not true.
Meanwhile, Generosa and Pelosi eloped. But soon, another tragedy struck: Generosa received a diagnosis of advanced breast cancer and died in August 2003.
At trial, the prosecution's chief witness against Pelosi was an inmate who spent time in jail with him. The inmate said that Pelosi had confessed to him, and as proof, presented a copy of Muscle & Fitness magazine in which he'd inscribed the sordid details. A former girlfriend of Pelosi's also testified against him. He was convicted in 2004 of second-degree murder and is in the Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, N.Y., serving a sentence of 25 years to life (he won't be eligible for parole until August 2031).
Simultaneously, a custody battle for the twins, who had been adopted as infants by the Ammons and who were 11 when the murder happened, ensued between the housekeeper, Kay Mayne, and their aunt, Sandra Williams, Ted Ammon's sister.
For a time, the twins were separated; Greg was sent to boarding school and Alexa lived in East Hampton with Mayne. Eventually, Williams prevailed and they moved to Hunstville, Ala., a relocation that was almost as surreal to them as what preceded it.
"It was definitely a culture shock," Alexa said.
From that time until Greg decided to make a documentary, about two-and-a-half years ago, he and his sister lived in relative anonymity. Part of his motivation for bringing their story to the screen was that it might be therapeutic, he said. He also was driven by a desire to desensationalize the story.
"The only information we were getting was from the media," Greg said. "We'd hear all these things about my father -- gay trysts, all this crap. It was absurd, but it really affected the way I perceived my father and mother. And so editing the documentary and trying to come to terms with everything was my way of trying to find out who my parents were on my own."