Saturday, May 17, 2014

New Mexico State Penitentiary Riot, Part ll

Bars torched to enter the cell.
The New Mexico State Penitentiary was the location for the second deadliest prison riot in the U.S. history. In a 36-hour period in 1980, the prison was trashed and acts of torture, rape, and murder were carried out against many prisoners. No guards were killed but several were assaulted.

The state pen was closed down after this riot, never to be used as a prison again. A new maximum-security prison opened across from where Old Main still stands.

Ghosts of Old Main

Since the riot, this pen’s many buildings have remained empty. In more recent years one cellblock has been used by the movie industry to store props and movies have been filmed in the old prison.

These original buildings have some stark and unexplainable activity. There are many stories connected to the original penitentiary or Old Main--here are just two--both are scary.

Scary Halloween, Anyone?

Up until recently, with a few exceptions, the general public was not allowed in these buildings. So many stories came from the former guards that were assigned to be caretakers of Old Main.

One exception was a paranormal group that agreed to go in during a radio Halloween special. The media presence was skeptical but what happened while they were there freaked them out.

Since the buildings are abandoned there is no electricity hooked up to Old Main. These two groups went into the old prison after dark and were assembled in one entrance area when they heard and caught on their recorders the sounds of one cell door after another quickly slamming shut.

These doors originally ran on electricity and could be closed or opened one after another. After the prison shut down and the electricity was cut off these doors could only be opened or shut manually-- cranked with metal wheels that are very hard to turn--some of them are even rusted.

When the group checked these doors they were shut--so how did they manually shut so quickly? Most say this is impossible--but it happened.

Phantom Witnesses to an Execution

One investigator I used to work with had the opportunity to investigate the prison before it was open for tours. She is sensitive and was surprised that she didn’t pick up on more negative feelings or energy while in Old Main.

She did mention that while in the basement near the prison’s Gas Chamber she did feel some extreme negative emotions.

Several years later I heard the following story-- some state it is just two men’s overactive imaginations but it does collaborate what my friend felt.

As a joke a producer who was working on a film being shot at Old Main picked up an actor that flew into Albuquerque to play a part in his film. He decided to put a scare into this young actor and suggested they visit the state pen late that night before shooting began the next day.

The two men joking around entered Old Main holding flashlights. The producer first took this actor to Cell Block 4 where the snitches were held in protective custody before 1980 riot. He showed his companion the indents in the floor where one mentally ill patient was decapitated.

Burnt outline of one prisoner
tortured to death,
He then showed the actor the outline of a human figure that had been burned into the floor by a welding torch used to torture and kill this prisoner who was a snitch.

Half serious, half-jokingly he dared this young actor to sit in the pen’s old Gas Chamber. The man agreed, which surprised him--it was getting cold and he wanted to return to his hotel room in Santa Fe.

But he led the young actor down several flights of stairs to the basement where the Gas Chamber is located. Both men were surprised to see a light at the end of the corridor. As they approached they discovered it was a lit candle placed upon a chair in an area designated for viewing executions.

The young man patted him on the back and stated, “Good joke.” But the producer was surprised and shocked for he hadn’t placed the candle there. He was about to suggest they leave when the young actor bounded into the chamber and sat in the chair.

The actor stopped talking when he noticed his producer was staring into the viewing room. He turned and looked and saw dark figures standing looking toward him. The producer waved to him and started back down the corridor.

The actor followed him quickly. By the time the two men got up to the ground level, they were both running.

So is this story true? The two men it happened to believe it did. One phenomenon in Old Main that has been reported many times by both former guards that take care of the old prison and the public is they have seen dark figures that are described as 3 dimensional in appearance.

One of many odd photos
taken in Old Main.
Here is a link to a local news video. It has a recording of cell doors slamming shut. 

The video below is local newscast that shows pictures from the riot--in this report, a guardsman and a prison social worker are interviewed about what they saw after the riot ended. This report gives several incorrect numbers, guards held prisoner, etc.

Here is a link to New Mexico State Penitentiary Riot, Part l --it is a brief disturbing history of this violent prison riot.

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