Prisoners left to burn in Ohio fire

Prisoners left to burn in Ohio fire

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A fire at an Ohio prison kills 320 inmates, some of whom burn to death when they are not unlocked from their cells. It is one of the worst prison disasters in American history.

The Ohio State Penitentiary was built in Columbus in 1834. Throughout its history, it had a poor reputation. A cholera epidemic swept through the facility in 1849, killing 121 convicts. In 1893, a prison superintendent wrote that "ten thousand pages of history of the Ohio Penitentiary would [not] give one idea of the inward wretchedness of its 1,900 inmates. The unwritten history is known only by God himself."

The prison, built to hold 1,500 people, was almost always overcrowded and notorious for its poor conditions. At the time of the 1930 fire, there were 4,300 prisoners living in the jail. Construction crews were working on an expansion and scaffolding was set up along one side of the building. On the night of April 21, a fire broke out on the scaffolding.

The cell block adjacent to the scaffolding housed 800 prisoners, most of whom were already locked in for the night. The inmates begged to be let out of their cells as smoke filled the cell block. However, most reports claim that the guards not only refused to unlock the cells, they continued to lock up other prisoners. Meanwhile, the fire spread to the roof, endangering the inmates on the prison’s upper level as well.

Finally, two prisoners forcibly took the keys from a guard and began their own rescue efforts. Approximately 50 inmates made it out of their cells before the heavy smoke stopped the impromptu evacuation. The roof then caved in on the upper cells. About 160 prisoners burned to death.

Although some guards did work to save the lives of their charges, the seemingly willful indifference displayed by other guards led to a general riot. Firefighters initially could not get access to the fire because angry prisoners were pelting them with rocks. By the time the fire was controlled, 320 people were dead and another 130 were seriously injured.

The tragedy was roundly condemned in the press as preventable. It also led to the repeal of laws on minimum sentences that had in part caused the overcrowding of the prison. The Ohio Parole Board was established in 1931 and within the next year more than 2,300 prisoners from the Ohio Penitentiary had been released on parole.

Prisoners left to burn in Ohio fire - Apr 21, 1930 -

TSgt Joe C.

A fire at an Ohio prison kills 320 inmates, some of whom burn to death when they are not unlocked from their cells. It is one of the worst prison disasters in American history.

The Ohio State Penitentiary was built in Columbus in 1834. Throughout its history, it had a poor reputation. A cholera epidemic swept through the facility in 1849, killing 121 convicts. In 1893, a prison superintendent wrote that Ten thousand pages of history of the Ohio Penitentiary would [not] give one idea of the inward wretchedness of its 1,900 inmates. The unwritten history is known only by God himself.

The prison, built to hold 1,500 people, was almost always overcrowded and notorious for its poor conditions. At the time of the 1930 fire, there were 4,300 prisoners living in the jail. Construction crews were working on an expansion and scaffolding was set up along one side of the building. On the night of April 21, a fire broke out on the scaffolding.

The cell block adjacent to the scaffolding housed 800 prisoners, most of whom were already locked in for the night. The inmates begged to be let out of their cells as smoke filled the cell block. However, most reports claim that the guards not only refused to unlock the cells, they continued to lock up other prisoners. Meanwhile, the fire spread to the roof, endangering the inmates on the prison’s upper level as well.

Finally, two prisoners forcibly took the keys from a guard and began their own rescue efforts. Approximately 50 inmates made it out of their cells before the heavy smoke stopped the impromptu evacuation. The roof then caved in on the upper cells. About 160 prisoners burned to death.

Although some guards did work to save the lives of their charges, the seemingly willful indifference displayed by other guards led to a general riot. Firefighters initially could not get access to the fire because angry prisoners were pelting them with rocks. By the time the fire was controlled, 320 people were dead and another 130 were seriously injured.

The tragedy was roundly condemned in the press as preventable. It also led to the repeal of laws on minimum sentences that had in part caused the overcrowding of the prison. The Ohio Parole Board was established in 1931 and within the next year more than 2,300 prisoners from the Ohio Penitentiary had been released on parole.

Prisoners left to burn in Ohio fire - HISTORY

BURNED ALIVE! - Five Burned to Death in Deliberate Car Fire by Illegal Migrant Genario Garcia
A man doused his girlfriend and three small children with petrol inside a car and set them on fire as he drove, according to a US police spokesman. All five died after the car crashed in flames. Residents reported hearing the crash early yesterday and seeing two adults engulfed in flames , stumbling across a road near Bonny Lake, a small town east of Tacoma. Firefighters found the bodies of a baby boy, 1-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl in the back of the burned car.
Antigone Monique Allen , 18, who had recently filed an assault complaint against the 24-year-old man, survived for nearly eight hours at a Seattle hospital. She managed to tell investigators and family what happened before she died. Laveda Allen said her sister had gone out the previous evening with her estranged boyfriend , identified as Genario Garcia. Garcia snorted cocaine while they were out Tuesday night and the two began arguing, Laveda Allen said. Antigone – ”Mona” to her family and friends – demanded that he take her home.

They drove along back roads before Garcia pulled a gun and pointed it at Antigone Allen’s head. He grabbed the container and splashed petrol on the children, Antigone and himself, Laveda Allen said. He flicked a lighter and the car erupted, left the road and flipped over.

"He was a good person," she said. "He was an illegal immigrant here , but he was a hard worker and tried to do what he had to do to make it. - (reader link)

Burned Alive: Search on for Suspect Accused of Setting Father-in-Law on Fire
A heated domestic dispute leaves an elderly Nashville man fighting for his life tonight after he was set on fire. 75-year-old John McCullough was caught in the middle of a domestic dispute between his daughter Sheila and her estranged husband Vincent Harris . The elderly man's home was heavily damaged after his son-in-law doused him with a liquid and set him on fire. With flames covering his body, McCullough stumbled through his home while his daughter got her two young sons out the back door.
- (Tyrone N. Butts)

BURNED ALIVE! After being kidnapped and locked in trunk of car by black "youths"
Nance's Body Found Burned In Own Car - (link fixed)
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A Franklin County grand jury returned a seven-count indictment Tuesday against a teenager who is accused of murdering a Columbus woman. Marcus C. Sellers , 17 (pictured, left) is accused of kidnapping and murdering Andrea Nance and then setting her car on fire.
Nance's body was found in the trunk of her burned car March 9.

  • Uganda rebels kill nearly 200 - burned alive!
    A Roman Catholic priest on the scene said on Sunday the rebels -- most of them "children, baby soldiers" -- had forced people to remain inside their huts which they had then set on fire.
  • India: Women burnt for being 'witches'
    Two Indian tribal women suspected of being witches were burnt to death by a village mob in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. The mob dragged 35-year-old Bahamay Kisku and 50-year-old Nanka Hembrom out of their huts, took them to a nearby field where they poured kerosine over them before setting them ablaze.
  • India Acquits 22 Hindus of Burning 14 Muslims alive in bakery

  • New Zealand: Armajeet Kaur Singh found guilty of trying to murder her former lover by setting him alight in his car

    South African Holocaust Terror: BURNED ALIVE!
    While the media is given daily coverage to all the gory detail of the court case of the five white rugby players, who beat and eventually killed a young black poacher on their farm, the daily attacks on and killings of whites by blacks is largely ignored.

  • Jewish Child Care counselor beaten, set on fire by pack of eight black teen girls
    She is in serious condition at the Westchester Medical Center after surviving a savage attack by eight girls who police said beat her, set her afire and poured chlorine bleach on her face.
    The older ones, Takiyah Miller and Lidia Orellana, were sent without bail to jail in Valhalla. The others, Latoya Barcliff, Mary Brown, Angenika Carter and Nicole Infante, were to be sent to juvenile detention center. The girls giggled as they were led to the courtroom.
    They also cut her hair with scissors, beat her with a telephone and kicked her down two flights of steps. "She was just overwhelmed by the number of attackers". - (reader link)
  • 'Spanic' Teen Arrested In Woman's Murder
    Elizabeth Tate Was Reported Missing Last Week
    On Friday, the body of a woman was discovered burning in an Atascosa County cemetery
    SAN ANTONIO -- San Antonio police arrested a South Side teen Tuesday in the murder of a woman whose body was found burning in a field in Atascosa County over the weekend. Investigators said they had been following some very solid leads since Elizabeth Tate (pictured), 81, was reported missing last Thursday. Police said Richard Alderete, 18, lived in the same Southeast Side neighborhood Tate lived in.
  • Cops nab murder suspect Richard Alderete - (Forum links)
  • Burned body identified as that of S.A. woman
  • Body may be woman's, 81
  • Ref:Texas BBQ - 3 'Spanic' Teens Burn Alive 81-year old Elizabeth Tate
    San Antonio, TX, Dec. 13 - An elderly San Antonio murder victim was burned alive. That's what two teens suspected of that murder said when they were arrested Wednesday. In all, three suspects were behind bars Wednesday for the death of 81-year-old Elizabeth Tate and they gave gruesome details to police about the crime.
  • Sam Francis Forum Topic: The Murder of Elizabeth Tate - (reader links)
  • Canada: Two arrested after aboriginal woman set ablaze on reserve
    Angry members of a native reserve crowded into a Nova Scotia courthouse yesterday, hurling insults at two fellow residents accused of setting a Mi'kmaq woman on fire in front of her children. (not a hate crime as long as it is 'in the tribe')
  • JoAnne Jones burns man alive rather than pay rent in Brooklyn
    JoAnne Jones is led out of the 79th Precinct in the Brooklyn borough of New York Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2001. Jones, 53, is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly pushing City Marshal Erskine Bryce , 66, over a banister, striking him in the head, and setting him ablaze. Photo by Kathy Willens (AP)

  • N.Y. Marshal Burned Alive For Serving Eviction Notice NEW YORK (AP) - A woman enraged by a city marshal's attempt to serve her with an eviction notice beat him to death and set him on fire, police said Wednesday. JoAnne Jones, 53, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the death of Erskine G. Bryce, 66. An autopsy showed Bryce was alive when he was set ablaze.
  • Ref: Burned alive
    (she reminds me of the bartender on prior StarTrek series.. )

[A Reader asks:]
"On Father's Day 1998, David Holt , (pictured at right)
a White father of two boys was kidnapped,
forced to open the safe at his place of business,
driven across the Savannah River, and locked in his car trunk.
His car was then set on fire and he was left to burn to death.
He was burned beyond recognition.
His charred remains were identifiable only through dental records.

The case remained unsolved for over two years.
The three suspects in this horrific crime are all Blacks with criminal records.
Has your local newspaper or television station covered this brutal murder?
Have ABC, CBS, or NBC, the NY Times, Washington Post, Time, Newsweek or US News & World Report reported this incident or the Shreveport Kidnapping / Rape / Murder or the Wichita Slaughter?
But the whole world heard plenty about a Black ex-convict in Texas
who was killed by three White ex-convicts.


Ref: Slide Show with pictures of investigation and suspects
Ref: Man was killed across Georgia line in South Carolina
Ref: Augusta Chronicle special section - "Who killed David Holt?"
Ref: Autopsy identifies body found in car Corpse found in trunk of burned auto
is Sam's Club manager who police believe was kidnapped
Ref: Agents seek to link body-in-trunk cases Two of the three men indicted in the 1998 robbery and abduction of slain Sam's Club Manager David Holt have been questioned about the 1997 killings. Mr. Singh's and Mr. Arroyo's charred bodies were found in the trunk of a burning car Mr. Holt's body was found in the trunk of his car just across the Savannah River in North Augusta on June 21, 1998.

    Brutal black racist mob burned white man to death
    A black man convicted of beating and setting ablaze a Chicago Heights man in 1995 was sentenced Thursday to 80 years in prison.

Wardell McClain, 23, was given the extended sentence by Judge Frank Zelezinski in the Markham courthouse after the jury found the murder to be "an exceptionally brutal and heinous act." After two previous trials ended in hung juries, McClain was found guilty April 5 of beating and burning to death Richard Will , 31. A second man, Michael Armstrong, 21, was convicted in the case in 1998, but that conviction has since been overturned and is currently being appealed by the state's attorney's office, according to O'Boyle. Four other black men alleged to have taken part in the beating are still being sought by police.

According to a statement read at McClain's 1999 trial, moments before Will was accosted by a mob of black teenagers, McClain said that a friend of his had remarked that he would beat up any white guy who came to town.

Not long after, the group was told there was a white man around the corner, Cook County Assistant State's Atty. Frank Cece told a jury in 1999. "We asked him what he was doing over here," said Cece, reading from McClain's signed statement. "The white dude said he was waiting on a lady."

After the youths began beating and kicking Will, a man identified in the statement as "Mike-Mike," pulled out a plastic bottle of lighter fluid, doused Will's hair and set him on fire.

"He kept saying, `No, not again,'" Cece read. "It looked like somebody had already beat him before. We just watched him burn."

  • Lagos mob burn two suspected robbers to death
  • South Africa: Furious mob decides to set suspect on fire
    A 19-year-old man was saved in the nick of time when residents of Orange Farm in Johannesburg accused him of armed robbery and then grew restless and angry when the police failed to arrive at the scene to make an arrest. The mob decided to take the law into their own hands and allegedly made plans to set his body on fire.
  • South Africa black vigilante justice: Burned Alive! It's the 'necklace' next time
    The people of Pimville in Soweto, where three young men were murdered for breaking into a church and stealing chairs this week, are unrepentant and have threatened to resort to the "necklace" in dealing with criminals. (only stoned to death this time. )
  • Man burnt to death in hostel shooting rampage.The man fled into some bushes, but was pursued by a group of hostel residents, who caught and assaulted him and set him alight. The man burnt to death.

Black murderer of white woman who died of extensive burns.

Despite believing himself to be the target of a racist judicial conspiracy, an African-American man nonetheless thinks an all-white DuPage County jury will acquit him of murder, his lawyer said Wednesday.

The panel is being asked to decide whether Artarius Jett, 27, is fit to stand trial for the Oct. 4, 1999, fatally stabbing and burning of his former girlfriend, Michelle Monachello , 24, outside her Glendale Heights apartment.

"Jett thinks DuPage County is a racist county. In particular, he thinks the DuPage judicial system is a racist system and he believes his prosecution is a conspiracy because he is black and Monachello was white. He believes that I, his defense attorney, am part of this conspiracy," Senior DuPage County Public Defender W. Jameson Kunz said in his opening statements.

The case was proceeding to trial last fall when Jett of Maywood was interviewed for three hours by a psychologist for the defense, who reported that Jett suffers from a delusional persecution complex, believing there is a conspiracy against him because of his race.

Monachello died of extensive burns and a stab wound in her torso , which Wolfe argues were inflicted on her as she sat in a car talking to Jett outside of her apartment. The two had a child together, were having difficulties for several months and were breaking off their relationship.
  • References: (links may expire)
  • 13 Villagers Shot, Burned Alive In Kashmir Rebel Raid
  • Police Disclose Motive In Burning Death The victim was African American, as are the suspects. Thomas said the elder suspect robbed the victim at a McDonald's restaurant in Los Angeles, then took her to the city of Whittier, where the woman was Burned Alive.
  • Uganda cult members burned alive, forensic tests show
  • Three more Christians became martyrs for Christ early Saturday morning, January 23, 1999. An Australian missionary and his two young sons died as a mob, incited by leaders of a Hindu fundamentalist group, burned them alive as they slept in their vehicle outside a church.
  • College student burned alive by inept 'Spanic' abductors Joshua Torres, 22, the alleged ringleader, and Nicholas Libretti, 19, were charged this week in the slaying. Torres soon persuaded Libretti and Jose Negron, 26, to kidnap her and hold her for ransom. Firefighters discovered Kimberly Antonakos' charred, bound and gagged body back in March -- a chilling testament to what District Attorney Richard Brown labeled "one of the most brutal and savage homicides that has ever occurred" in Queens.
  • Gypsies Burned Alive By KLA Terrorists
  • WACO Report: those consigned to this horrible fiery fate -- being burned alive
  • Burned Alive! banner from Flaming Text

Prisoners left to burn in Ohio fire - HISTORY

Ghost Adventures got a little more than even they bargained for at the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield Ohio. Built in 1896, it was an operational prison theoretically focusing on rehabilitation of inmates until 1990. I would say there was 94 years of empty theory and the reality was soul crushing brutality. Over 155,000 prisoner’s were held in the damp stone walls.

Zak juxtaposed two fascinating interviews with both a former inmate and reformatory guard. Former inmate D.J. Fly (prisoner 61234) was incarcerated at the Ohio State Reformatory between 1959-1962. He had the misfortune to be in the cell next to a prisoner named Lockhart. Lockhart chose to commit suicide by spraying himself with paint thinner and then setting himself on fire. The heat and fumes of his burning body nearly took out Fly in the cell next door. Fly went into Lockhart’s cell with Zak and immediately felt Lockhart’s presence. Fly repeatedly brushed off his shoulders and arms telling Lockhart, “Get off me!”. Once out of the cell Fly yelled back to Lockhart’s shade, “I did what I could to get your ass out of here…” but you chose the wrong way to go. I would agree attacking your old cell buddy from next door would be the wrong way to go about trying to get released with or without a body.

I did see an energy mass envelop D.J. Fly as he was freaking out in Lockhart’s cell. It was like a smothering blanket. Not surprised Fly wanted it off him pronto!

Zak’s interview with former Reformatory guard J. Webb recalled Lockhart’s gruesome method of suicide. Webb confirmed that by the time the guards to could get to Lockhart it was too late, he was dead. Fly said Lockhart was still burning when the guards dragged his disintegrating body out of his cell.

Fly further noted that Lockhart’s family did not claim his body. So like 217 other prisoner’s who died in jail, Lockhart was buried in the prison cemetery under his prisoner number. None of the gravestones have names, only numbers painted on them.

Fly also told Zak that a”boy threw himself” off the low handrail five stories up in the West Cell block, choosing to plummet to his death than continue to live in a cell that resembled an animal cage more than a human habitation.

A third suicide was related by a tour guide telling of a man who on his way to lunch hung himself on a bed sheet off the same handrails the jumping suicide passed on is way down.

Female tour guides and staff have had a hard time of it in the East Cell Block. Tour guide Susan Nirode related several personal stories of having her head pushed forward and her hair pulled viciously when giving tours in the area. She refuses to go into a back storage area called “the toilet room” because too many women have been pushed, shoved or grabbed by unseen presences there. The toilet room was self explanatory as the cameras paned over rows and rows of detached thrones laid out on the floor.

My favorite tour guide was no-nonsense Mike Middleton. He related a personal experience about a black mass passing in front of him and darting into a nearby cell. When Middleton followed and asked, “Who are you?” he heard &#[email protected]!#% you” with his own ears.

Middleton took Zak, Nick and Aaron down into the Solitary confinement cells where things got strange quickly. Middleton was telling Zak about hearing ghostly footsteps while he was in Solitary alone. A negative presence did it’s best to freak out Middleton by getting in his face. Middleton responded, “I’m still not afraid of you.” which was a lie at the time. In a personal EVP Middleton had recorded a voice responded saying, “Outstanding” clearly. I guess Middleton had passed some sort of test.

Another time while acting as a tour guide Middleton saw a dark shadow in Solitary knock down an elderly cancer patient who was part of the group being shown around. The old man looked up and demanded of his Brother-In-Law, “Why did you punch me?” The BIL was behind the elderly man, nowhere near close enough to have punched him.

Middleton explained to Ghost Adventures that the aggressive ghosts down in Solitary would only be dangerous to “any who are afraid”. He started to talk about past EVP screams he had recorded in the area when a bit of the ceiling paint came down in a chunk and hit the back of Nick’s nick. Just then all three microphone battery packs worn by Middleton, Zak and Nick went dead. Fresh batteries had been installed just a few minutes previously. The only audio left was on Nick’s camera . Middleton said, ” Now they are showing you we decide when you film.” At that moment Nick experienced a high pitched audio jolt and the remaining sound on his camera also cut out.

Reduced to subtitles inserted after the fact Zak mouthed at the camera, “This is the first time this has ever happened!” Bits of distorted audio faded in and out but Ghost Adventures was basically reduced to a silent film.

I saw a bunch of ghosts surrounding and baiting the Ghost Adventures team. I saw the ghost of one male prisoner reach for the microphone battery pack belted to Zak’s waist right as it died. There was a strong sense that this group of ghosts were taunting and baiting the crew. It was one of the meaner encounters of ghostly bullying I have seen to date. Aaron was startled when he felt a ghostly presence walk by him and shout “Hey” in his earphones. That was part of this ugly, taunting group of ghostly prisoners. The ghost who yelled “Hey” at Aaron was a thin, rat faced inmate with tufts of fading reddish hair and beard. He likely wasn’t big enough in life to defend himself, physically. He looked like a man who would have had to run with a pack for protection.

When the sound was restored Middleton’s final comment before lockdown to Zak was, “There are two types here predator or prey. Which one are you?” Unfortunately for Ghost Adventures they seemed to spend most of the night being prey.

Zak headed into lockdown with two provoking objects, a ring of cell keys and a discipline stick that looked a lot like a modern police baton.

Zak, Nick and Aaron had just entered lockdown and turned out the lights. Zak had started his usual verbal gauntlet when his audio battery drained AGAIN. At this point both Nick and Zak felt invisible but solid energetic blows to their arms. Challenge accepted.

X cameras were set up in the West Cell Block, East Cell Block, Solitary/Death Row, the Morgue, the toilet room and the second floor of the East Cell Block where five people had seen an apparition at the same time. The Morgue got more business than you might expect in a prison due to periodic epidemics of assorted illnesses that killed large numbers of prisoner’s. I got a rather disturbing glimpse of bodies stacked like cordwood. The only other times I have seen bodies stacked up like that were at Waverly Hills (as a psychic) and in death camp liberation footage shot by US GI’s in World War II (saw those physically with my eyes as a student). Apparently the majority of families chose to claim their dead from the reformatory since the prision cemetery only has 218 marked graves. There are a lot of unmarked graves on that campus.

Ghost Adventures started out in the East Cell Block. Almost immediately a white speck darted out from behind a pole accompanied by a loud “whooshing”noise caught by Nick’s camera audio. The crew tried to debunk the speck as a bit of dust but couldn’t when it suddenly vanished from sight and could not be seen from a different angle as originating from behind the pole. At this moment Zak saw a stationary silhouette of a man’s head upstairs. I got the impression it was the head of a brutal looking guard. Anxious to investigate the silhouette the Ghost Adventures guys set up motion sensors and an EMF alarm before heading upstairs.

Once upstairs the crew focused on Cell 13, the location of human torch Lockhart’s self inflicted death. I sensed Lockhart and a dark entity huddling together in the left corner of the cell, just at the end of the bunk built into the wall. Zak pulled out his ghost box while asking Lockhart questions and the device immediately came up with the word, “DRAG”. Zak and Nick both got chills as they recalled that Lockhart had been dragged out of his cell still smoldering. Next word out of the ghost box was, “FLY” Zak got incredibly excited because D.J. Fly was the name of the prisoner who had visited Cell 13 with the crew during the walk through. The same inmate who was nearly roasted in Cell 14 next door to Lockhart when Lockhart decided to burn. I agree with Zak on this one, Lockhart was talking about his death and the fact his crumbling remains had been dragged out of his cell and past Fly’s cell when the guards finally got him out.

I asked my guides what motivated Lockhart to immolate himself? Not surprisingly it was a dark entity. I mean a super dark, entity that possessed Lockhart and drove him into such despair that he burned himself to death. Unfortunately the dark thing was still in the cell feeding off the misery of Lockhart’s ghost when Ghost Adventures did their investigation.

When I run into these situations I am morally obligated to deal with them. So I asked Archangel Michael to incapacitate, detach and drag this dark entity into the presence of God. Of course the darn thing predictably swore and threatened all sorts of things. They always do. It is tedious how predictable dark entities behave. Anyway, the dark thing was dissolved in the light of God. Once that was taken care of I took another look inside Cell 13 to see how Lockhart’s shade was doing.

I didn’t expect what happened next. Cell 13 filled with the ghosts of many, many men who had been inhabitants of it over the decades. They literally came out of the walls and stuffed Cell 13 full of their presences. I asked if anyone in Cell 13 wanted to be released into the presence of the divine. The only one who took me up on it was Lockhart. He felt he had suffered enough before, during and after his death. Since he was willing I called in my primary guide, Archangel Michael and Lockhart was forgiven for destroying himself and whatever he had done to get him incarcerated in the first place. It was amazing to watch Lockhart’s energy get lighter and lighter in color until he was little more than a free soaring soul. St. Michael was with Lockhart as he shot straight up to heaven. There was a whole group of light beings there to meet him. Sadly none of them felt like his family. I think maybe they completely gave up on him as their failure to claim his body implied. However Lockhart’s welcoming committee were absolutely there to usher him into the presence of God and assist him in the healing he still had to do. They closed about him in a semicircle so he was hidden from my view. I wasn’t allowed to see any further. When I see these transitions of souls into the presence of God I am only permitted to see so far. I think it is because I am alive on Earth. I suspect the human brain can only understand a limited amount of what heaven really is so we are not allowed to see more than the first few steps in the door.

After Lockhart’s departure I asked the remaining ghosts cramming Cell 13 what next? They all melted back into the walls. It was one of the stranger things I have seen.

Standing outside Lockhart’s cell with the ghost box giving all kinds of feedback Nick started to go numb. His whole body seemed to be engulfed in a ribbon of energy that numbed everything. However no EMF activity was recorded. An EVP was caught at this moment saying, “I’ll chew you….” Yes, well that IS what the dark entity was about, chewing up people and spitting them out and then living off the misery it caused. That numb ribbon or cloak of energy was NOT benign.

At this point a mist appeared behind Zak’s shoulder and there was squawky audio interference. The team didn’t hear anything, but I heard the word, “pain” in that burst of interference. I think the dark entity was still in play. I sincerely hope the guys were thoroughly energetically cleared out after this episode. The dark entity I saw is now gone, no longer exists as of 11/20/09.

Several static night vision cameras set up in the East Cell Block caught some sounds when the crew was in another area. The second level of the block was the focus on one camera. Well, 27 min. after being set up and left to it’s own devices the camera recorded the loud clang of a cell door slamming. Two minutes after the cell door slammed unexplained footsteps were heard. They had a sharp echo to them that made me think of guards heeled boots. I think the unexplained footsteps were the ghost of a guard still making his nightly rounds.

Zak brought Sarah into Solitary with the guys and used her as bait. She did a good job, teasing them that wasn’t that Aaron’s job? It took some real fortitude for Sarah to come back into the Solitary area because she had had a former experience of having her backside grabbed by unseen hands.

Zak was starting to explain to Sarah that he wanted her to walk down the stairs onto the ground floor of the Solitary area and then walk around the block solo while equipped with a camera and a digital recorder. Before he could get this all out Sarah started having trouble breathing. At this moment Zak was also affected becoming instantly dizzy and weak to the point of feeling he couldn’t hold his camera up. Always game, Zak told the ghosts, that they “Need more contact.” A male voice came back on EVP saying, “You got more than me.” That ghost was telling the truth. Solitary was packed with ghosts.

This gang of ghosts were more than a little disturbing to me because it was a mix of the ghosts of both former inmates and guards. The one thing they all had in common is they saw Sarah as an object for sport. Their creepy focus on her reminded me of a cock fight when two roosters are put together in a confined space and fight to the death. Three things are certain in a cock fight. It will be bloody, violent and one cock will end up dead.

Sarah was willing to keep going but just as she admitted to being a little freaked out but good an EVP was caught saying, “Run, Sarah….” Personally I think I would have, but she walked down those stairs into the lower level of the block by herself. She asked the ghosts, “Is there anybody here with me?” I heard back, “Many” which I think everyone in that cell block knew regardless of a lack of EVP. A cell door slammed nearby but the Ghost Adventures crew proved on camera it couldn’t have been any of them.

After Sarah was down on the ground level of Solitary she felt something pull her hair hard. She started calling up to the guys but Zak didn’t seem to hear her right away. Once he did all three men ran down to her. Both Sarah and Zak felt freezing cold where she was standing but their gear recorded the surrounding air temperature at 72.2 degrees. Zak told whomever pulled Sarah’s hair to stand in front of her at which time an eerie growl was heard by all four investigators. I saw the growler as a thin male prisoner who was mocking Sarah and the rest of the crew. His intent was to freak them out which he accomplished in spades.

I am guessing the food likely wasn’t so great at the Ohio State Reformatory because quite a few of the prisoners ghosts were too thin. Not starving thin, but definitely malnourished.

The X camera’s in the morgue picked up some clanging, banging type unexplained noises. Listening to the EVP of those noises I saw someone throw a table across part of a room onto the floor. The Hospital X camera also got a muddle of disembodied voices. The episode wrapped up with paranormal expert Masone Bellton reviewing the “mist” behind Zak’s shoulder up at Cell 13. He saw more than a mist, but a partial apparition including the shoulder of a figure. His said that imprint hauntings tend to play back a small span of time when temperature, weather and energy conditions were just right. I respectfully disagree. It wasn’t an imprint ghost behind Zak, it was the dark entity St. Michael took care of upon request. Certainly imprint hauntings exist and I agree conditions cited, including time of year can trigger them, but I don’t think that is what was going on in this particular situation.

I don’t want anyone reading this post to be afraid of the dark entity in Lockhart’s Cell 13, it no longer exists in this time space continuum or any other.


On April 21, 1930, a fire broke out at the overcrowded Ohio Penitentiary in Columbus and claimed the lives of more than three hundred inmates. If prisons are truly haunted because of the death and tragedy that takes place in them, then the Ohio Penitentiary must have been one of the most haunted buildings in the region.

Even though the prison itself is no more, this has not stopped the stories of murder, brutality and of course, ghosts, from being told. The prison may be gone, but some say the spirits of the past still linger.

The Ohio State Penitentiary before the fire

The Ohio Penitentiary opened in late October 1834 when 189 prisoners were marched under guard from a small frontier jail to the partially completed building. As they walked along the banks of the Scioto River, they must have been amazed and dismayed by the stone walls of their new place of incarceration, as many other men would be in the years to come. Hundreds of thousands of men were sent to this prison over the next 150 years and thousands of them died, usually violently, behind the high walls.

The penitentiary that was located on Spring Street was actually the third state prison in Ohio and the fourth jail in early Columbus. The first jail in the city had been built in 1804 and was a two-story log stockade that was surrounded by 13 whipping posts. Author Dan Morgan noted that "horrible stories were told about this primitive prison" and said that men, women and children were all brought there. They were stripped of their clothing and then tied to the posts. This was followed by whippings that left their backs resembling raw beef. Further torture was inflicted with hot ashes and coals that were spread onto their bleeding flesh. It was obviously a horrifying place.

Between 1813 and 1815, the first state prison was built along Scioto Street, which later became 2nd Street. It was a simple structure that housed prisoners in 13 cells on the third floor. The prison was full within a year so the General Assembly commissioned a larger structure, designed for 100 prisoners, that was completed in 1818. This building provided unheated cells, straw mats on the floor, infestations of lice and rats and was plagued by several cholera epidemics. It also had several subterranean places of punishment, called "holes," where conditions were even worse.

The prison remained in use until a new building was constructed on Spring Street, however an odd occurrence took place there in 1830. At that time, a fire of "incendiary origin" destroyed most of the prison workshops. Strangely, a century later in 1930, another fire of “incendiary origin” destroyed an entire cellblock and claimed 332 lives at the new penitentiary. It is still considered the worst fire in the history of American prisons.

American penitentiaries were originally designed as a place of contemplation for the mistakes made that caused the inmates to break the law in the first place. Prisoners "labored in silence during the day and were locked in solitary confinement at night." The men worked in factory shops, located behind the walls, to make leather harnesses, shoes, tailored goods, barrels, brooms, hats and other common goods that were not manufactured by legitimate business in Ohio.

The paltry food the prisoners ate usually consisted of cornbread, bacon and beans and was served on "rust-eaten tin plates" and eaten with crude implements fashioned from broom handles. They slept on hay sacks and although fold-down beds were installed around the time of the Civil War, blankets were only issued in the wintertime. The clothing and the bedding were filthy and were major carriers of disease as laundry facilities were non-existent in the early days. There was also no medical treatment to speak of and epidemics, dysentery and diarrhea killed many. In 1849, a cholera outbreak killed 116 of 423 prisoners. The guards fled the grounds and the prisoners begged for pardons.

The inmates were routinely punished for both major and minor infractions. Whipping remained the major form of discipline until 1844, but was replaced by no less cruel methods of causing pain. These included dunking inmates in huge vats of water, hanging them by their wrists in their cells and of course, the sweatbox. In 1885, the prison would begin carrying out executions, as well.

The "golden age" of the prison came during the tenure of Warden E. G. Coffin, from 1886 through 1900. A number of flattering books were written about the institution during this era and visitors who came to tour the place could even buy picture postcards and souvenir books. One section of the souvenir book stated: “It is to Mr. Coffin's revolutionary methods of inaugurating, perfecting and successfully establishing humane but repressive methods in the management of the prison that the Ohio Penitentiary owes its world-wide celebrity.”

On Christmas Day 1888, Columbus newspapers reported that Warden Coffin had decided to do away with such punishments as the dunking tub and the stretching rings. Coffin said, “A hard box to sleep on and bread and water to eat will cause them to behave themselves. It may not be so speedy but it is more humane.”

Despite the fact that things at the Ohio Penitentiary seemed to be changed from the outside, the prisoners had a different story to tell. In 1894, a newspaper reporter learned that prisoners were still being locked in sweatboxes as punishment and that the ball and chain were also in use. The newspaper denounced the state of Ohio for "a partial return to the dark ages when the stocks and pillory were used for punishment." In addition, the prisoners were still being given bad food and medical care was still very poor. They also complained of pay-offs and political graft that resulted in some prisoners being blindfolded and tortured with water hoses, while well-connected inmates were given large cells and special privileges.

It was also during this era when the Death House was brought within the walls. Prior to that, the gallows had been set up on a place called Penitentiary Hill, located in a ravine near the present-day intersection of Mound and 2nd streets in Columbus. The first execution in the county had been carried out in 1844, when a convict was hanged for murder. The day of the hanging was regarded as “truly the greatest event in the history of Columbus” and was remembered as a day of “noise, confusion, drunkenness and disorder” during which one bystander, Sullivan Sweet, was reportedly trampled by a horse. Two sets of physicians were anxious to obtain the remains of the hanged man. One of the groups went to his grave and exhumed him and while they were making off with the body, they were shot at by the other doctors. The first party ran off, leaving the body to the second group, along with the now-empty grave. The dead man’s foot was, for many years, preserved in alcohol and kept on display by Drs. Jones and Little, who had an office on East Town Street.

In 1885, the gallows were moved behind the walls of the Ohio Penitentiary. Starting with Valentine Wagner in 1885, 28 men, including a 16-year-old named Otto Lueth, were hanged at the end of the prison’s East Hall. The electric chair (considered a humane form of execution) replaced the gallows in the hall in 1897 and 315 men and women were put to death in it.

This aspect of prison life became hated and feared by guards and prisoners alike. Corrections Major Grover Powell, who spent 31 years as a guard at the Ohio Penitentiary, told reporter David Lore in 1984, "Nobody ever really wanted to work the executions nobody ever volunteered.” Death House duties, such as staying with the prisoner during the last meal, fastening the straps or flipping the switch, were rotated. The warden would get $75 overtime pay to split among the attending officers. Powell recalled that many of the men, even during the lean days of the depression when extra money came in handy, did everything they could to get out of working the executions.

But nothing in the history of the prison, even the macabre execution devices, matched the carnage and horror of April 21, 1930.

Prisoners left to burn in Ohio fire - HISTORY

This Day In History: April 21, 1930

On April 21, 1930, a fire at the Ohio State Penitentiary killed 320 inmates, many who died trapped in their cells, unable to escape the flames. Those that didn’t burn to death perished from smoke inhalation and breathing poisonous fumes. It was the most lethal prison fire in American history.

The prison itself was a wretched hell-hole, crammed with 4,300 prisoners in a structure designed to hold only 1,500. An expansion was being built, and scaffolding was set up on the outside of one section of the building called the Big Block. This is the area that caught fire when a candle ignited a pile of oily rags just after the prisoners had been locked into their cells for the night.

It was the Depression, and many of the prisoners were incarcerated for minor crimes committed out of desperation to feed their families, which explained the massive over-crowding. Each cell door had to be locked and unlocked manually, leaving many men begging for release that would never come.

The prison warden took off to save his own hide, but his daughter stuck around to administer aid to injured and dying prisoners in the main yard. Two prisoners managed to wrestle keys from a do-nothing guard and saved the lives of many fellow inmates and corrections officers, becoming the most unlikely of heroes.

Why the fire was started was disputed in the aftermath of the tragedy (there was no debate as to the cause of fire.) Prison officials stated that three inmates started the blaze to create a diversion in order to make an escape attempt. In the months following the fire, two of the three prisoners accused of setting the fire committed suicide, which some speculate lends some weight to the prison officials’ claim.

Others involved believed the fire had been a horrible accident, and the authorities at the prison blamed the inmates to deflect blame from the administration’s poor handling of the situation.

In the end, the fire killed more people than the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 (see: How Did the Great Chicago Fire Start?) and the Shirtwaist Factory Fire in New York City, but very few people have heard about the tragedy that occurred on April 21, 1930. Dr. Mitchell Roth of the College of Criminal Justice, who has done extensive research on the fire, states:

There are a lot of books about a lot of disasters in the country, yet the prison is left out of most anthologies featuring major disasters. I don’t know why. Perhaps it is because the public thought they were less worthy to document than others because they were prisoners.

If you liked this article, you might also enjoy our new popular podcast, The BrainFood Show (iTunes, Spotify, Google Play Music, Feed), as well as:

When is the Best Time of Year to Conduct Prescribed Burns?

One of the main questions many land owners and fire managers often ask about prescribed burning is when is the best time of year to burn? This will vary depending upon specific land management goals. Timing will also depend upon when the burn can be accomplished safely and under favorable weather conditions. When planning prescribed burns it is important for fire managers to know and understand how many days are actually available during a specific season or over the entire year. Knowing this will allow fire managers to plan for and execute a predetermined number of burns during a given year. It can also aid in determining in which season or seasons it may be best to conduct their burns.

Limited Number of Burn Days

Most fire managers have several prescribed fires to conduct during a specific burn season, and if an adequate number of days are not available, some burns will not be conducted that year. Burns not conducted are usually postponed until the next year, adding more burns and needed burn days to an already limited schedule the following year. It can also drastically change management plans on that par­ticular burn unit. More often than not, many burn units are not burned regularly or at all because of a limited number of burn days due to restricting burning during a traditional burn season. This can negatively impact resources in numerous ways, along with creating an increased work load and cost on fire managers trying to implement prescribed burns.

Because of the limited number of burn days, a fire manger may try to burn when conditions are marginal. This can result in a prescribed fire that is not as effective as it should be causing manage­ment goals to not be met. On the other hand, safety may be compromised when prescribed burns are performed under marginal or less than desired conditions because of the need to complete all of the planned burns during that traditional time frame. If prescribed fires were conducted year-round, then more days would be available for burning, and the most optimum days for achieving goals and safety could be used.

Weather Variables

Weather has a major impact on prescribed fires and associated fire behavior. Therefore, the number of days available to burn each year is constrained by weather variables such as: temperature, wind speed, and relative humidity. Achieving the prescribed set of weather conditions during a particular time of the year has always been a dilemma faced by fire managers. If the goals of the prescribed burn are not extremely specific and safety concerns are maintained, then a wide range of conditions can be used for temperature, relative humidity, and wind speed. Often, a narrow window of weather parameters is required due to safety issues, policy, and regulation, which will reduce the number of available burn days.

Even if weather conditions can be met, timing of the prescribed burn is often limited to a single season by policy, tradition, or a lack of understanding of fire effects. Again, this limits the number of available days left to conduct prescribed burns. Remember that historically, fires occur throughout North America at any time of the year. Records show that fires set by Native Americans occurred in nearly all months, with a majority in the late summer. Also a majority of the lightning-caused fires in many regions of the United States occur during the growing season. In many areas burn season is late winter to early spring to correspond with green-up for livestock production, which also coincides with highly variable and changing weather conditions. However, conditions during the later winter can be favorable for wildfires which will further limit to the number of available burn days.

Limiting burning to a single season will continue to severely limit the application of prescribed fire in many areas. Also the lack understanding fire affects on native plant communities will also reduce the seasonal opportunities for conducting prescribed burns.

There are several publications and videos available that can assist fire managers to better understand fire prescriptions, fire effects and the best time to burn.


4/21/1926 the Marsh Wood Products fire in Milwaukee, WI killed six firefighters over the next few days this fire. “Firefighters had responded to a wood products plant for a report of a fire in the boiler room, where a huge bin held tons of sawdust that was used for fuel. The plant had been closed for a week and no fire was visible upon the arrival of firefighters. The Chief and the company president went to the roof and peered down through a scuttle. Several sprinkler heads had activated and were operating, and there was a thin haze of smoke throughout the boiler room, but there were no visible flames. The members of Engine 14 and Truck 8 were ordered to dig through the smoldering sawdust in the bin while the remaining fire companies were ordered to take up. Suddenly, there was a blinding flash and a dozen men became human torches as they were covered with flaming sawdust. Apparently, by their shoveling and use of a hose line, the firefighters had stirred up just enough dust to create a deadly mixture that exploded violently. Bystanders grabbed the first couple of men that staggered out and threw them to the ground, where they worked on smothering the flames that enveloped them. More men came running out screaming in agony as the flames burned their turnout gear off their bodies. Before any ambulances could reach the scene, private cars were commandeered to take the severely burned victims to the hospital, where a makeshift triage area was hastily set up and priests began to administer last rites. The first firefighter died later that day and the second died late that night, after talking and laughing with the priest. Of the other firefighters injured, two died the next day, the fifth died April 24 th , and the last man died May 1 st . The building had been the scene of several fires, including one in the same sawdust bin two years earlier.”

4/21/1950 a Chicago, IL firefighter “of Engine 51 died from injuries he had suffered in the line of duty two days earlier. On April 19, he and three other firefighters were injured when an oil drum exploded during a coal shed fire at 5746 S. Perry Avenue.”

4/21/1955 a Washington DC firefighter died “while attempting to vent the roof during a three-alarm fire in a two-story basket factory in the 1300 block of Linden Court N.E. He fell through the fire-weakened roof and into the heart of the fire. Despite the efforts of a score of his co-workers, who fought valiantly through the flames to reach him, he died as a result of severe burns and smoke inhalation.”

4/21/1990 a Hollywood, South Carolina firefighter “died after a wall collapsed on him while fighting a fire at the Ravenel Town Hall.”

4/21/1930 the Ohio Penitentiary fire in Columbus, Ohio claimed the lives of 322 inmates after a candle ignited some oily rags left on the roof of the West Block. The fire was discovered just after prisoners were locked into their cells for the evening. Three prisoners, hoping to create a diversion to escape started the fire, two of the three committed suicide in the months following the fire “The prison, built to hold 1,500 people, was almost always overcrowded and notorious for its poor conditions. At the time of the fire, 4,300 prisoners were living in the jail. Construction crews were working on an expansion and scaffolding was set up along one side of the building. On the night of the fire broke out on the scaffolding… The cell block adjacent to the scaffolding housed 800 prisoners, most of whom were already locked in for the night. The inmates begged to be let out of their cells as smoke filled the cell block. However, most reports claim that the guards not only refused to unlock the cells but also continued to lock up other prisoners. Meanwhile, the fire spread to the roof, endangering the inmates on the prison’s upper level as well. Finally, two prisoners forcibly took the keys from a guard and began rescue efforts. Approximately 50 inmates made it out of their cells before the heavy smoke stopped the impromptu evacuation. The roof then caved in on the upper cells. About 160 prisoners burned to death. Although some guards did work to save the lives of their charges, the seemingly willful indifference displayed by other guards led to a general riot. Firefighters initially could not get access to the fire because angry prisoners were pelting them with rocks. By the time the fire was controlled, 320 people were dead and another 130 were seriously injured.”

4/21/2015 a faulty solar panel on the roof of the Hove Town Hall (UK) started a fire in the early afternoon no injuries were reported. “The source of the fire is believed to be an electrical fault with a solar panel on the roof…Brighton & Hove City Council will check all solar panels on all council buildings following this incident.” “In contrast to the power used by conventional mains electrical equipment, the power that PV (photovoltaic) systems generate is DC (direct current) and parts of the system cannot be switched off. DC installations have a continuous current, making them more hazardous (volt for volt) than normal AC (alternating current) electrical installations.” “Firefighters need to consider the additional roof loading of the array, especially when the purlins/rafters ectara are fire-damaged or water-laden. They also need to consider the fact that DC string cables may be running down through the property from a system that, during daylight hours, is producing voltages anywhere between 400VDC to 1000VDC, and currents between 1A (amps) and 10A, depending on the nature of the installation and the irradiance present. Furthermore, solar PV modules are manufactured to include several potentially hazardous chemicals and materials that may be released as a side-effect of the fire damage. All of these considerations, and more, can lead to the fire service deciding that the level of risk and uncertainty is too high to justify dealing with the property fire at all – resulting in some instances where properties have been left to burn out.”

4/21/2020 four women “were killed in a fire that ripped through the top floor of a Bronx, New York apartment building. The blaze erupted at about 7:20 p.m. in a sixth-floor unit of the building on Grand Concourse near East Mount Eden Avenue in the Claremont section, officials said. After igniting in Apt. 603, the blaze quickly escalated to three alarms and ripped through the roof. One hundred forty responded. The fire was likely caused by a space heater.

4/21/2012 Rayne, LA four children left unattended in a mobile home died in a house fire.

4/21/1880 New York City, NY Madison Square Garden Collapse, killed several when a floor used for dancing pushed out the wall that was supporting it at 9:30 p.m. during the Hahnemann Hospital fair with about 800 people in the building.

4/21/1899 one hundred eleven buildings were destroyed by fire in Dawson, YT.

Bodie, California

This mining town was unlike any others of its time. Bodie, California earned a reputation as the “most lawless” mining camp due to its high levels of violence, robbers, brothels, gambling halls, and opium dens. At its peak, Main Street was lined with 65 saloons and “houses of ill repute.” It began as a small town of about 20 miners in 1861 and grew to about 10,000 by 1880. The town’s official decline began in the 1900s. By 1910 the recorded population was 698 and the last newspaper was printed in 1912. Most of the town was burned down in 1932 after a massive fire swept through, but 200 buildings still remain in a state of “arrested decay.” Visitors are not allowed within the buildings, but can take a tour of the old stamp mill.

The 5 Most Haunted Places In Columbus

Around this time of year, when the air gets a bit crisper and the nights stretch a little longer, things start to take on a naturally spookier edge. It’s more than just the mystique of Halloween, it’s almost innately human to look over your shoulder a bit more often once autumn begins to dig its fingers in.

We’re often prompted to remember the recently departed, to give respect to the dead, and to honor the lives they lived. We retell stories of jilted lovers or victims who were wronged and murdered, only to come back as wraiths to plague and punish the living.

Maybe it’s all harmless fun, or perhaps it’s our way of handing down parables of morality and judgment. Or maybe there’s more to them than can be easily explained and dismissed as the foibles of human nature.

Either way, Columbus has more than a few of its own local legends. Areas and buildings that are so haunted that they almost guarantee a supernatural experience for all who dare go looking. Here are the five most haunted places in Columbus that will freeze your blood cold and make the hair on your arms stand on end. That is, if you’re brave enough to actually see for yourself…

The Thurber House

Writer and cartoonist James Thurber called this house his home until 1917. But it wasn’t all pleasant childhood memories. The famous writer admitted that in 1915 he experienced a run-in with a spirit, an event that stayed with him all his life, prompting him to write the story, “The Day The Ghost Got In”.

According to lore, a man, driven mad by a cheating spouse, reportedly ran around the downstairs dining table before running upstairs and shooting himself in the head. Another story states that an old mental hospital burned down nearby, killing seven people.

Now the building has been turned into a museum and the third floor is often given to a writer-in-residence. Many of the writers have experienced strange occurrences over the years, mainly unexplained footsteps pacing on the floor below…

Old Governor’s Mansion

via Wikimedia Commons

Over the years this old mansion has served as the former seat of power of several Ohio governors as well as a string of various businesses. The legend that surrounds this building is one that has continued for nearly its entire history. All the stories seem to focus on one entity, dubbed The Blue Lady, an African-American woman dressed in an early period maid’s outfit.

What’s particularly strange about this haunting is that the ghost seems very much aware of her surroundings. She’s often seen walking into rooms, judging the decor and design. It’s been reported that she’ll go so far as to knock a painting off the wall or roll up a rug if she doesn’t approve of it. Perhaps the most disturbing report is an incident that took place in 2007 during remodeling.

The Blue Lady appeared before one of the workers and even addressed them, saying how much she appreciated the work being done and how much she liked the renovations. Other peculiar happenings include the smell of burning hair or flesh that has often been reported throughout the building.

The Jury Room

22 E Mound Street has gone by many names over the years, but right now it’s known as The Jury Room. The building is reported to have been built over Hopewell Indian burial grounds as early as 1830.

That in and of itself is enough to justify most of the strange occurrences throughout the property but it doesn’t stop there. In 1859, Frances Miller, the madame of a brothel being run out of the building, shot and killed Paulus Rupprecht.

Throughout the years, all sorts of strange activity has been witnessed in the bar, by patrons and employees alike. Objects moving or falling over, people being pushed about by the unseen, even the sounds of eerie piano music has been heard playing late at night.

The Arena District

The area where much of the Arena District sits today used to be the property of the old Ohio State Penitentiary. Before being torn down the prison was plagued by a history of human wrongdoing and hardships. In 1930 a fire broke out killing 324 inmates. What’s worse, many of the convicts were left to burn alive by the guards.

Some prisoners even heroically stole the keys from their jailers, freeing themselves only to run back into the flames and release their fellow inmates. In the 1950s a virologist began experimenting on the prisoners, injecting them with HeLa cells to see whether the human body could develop an immune response to cancer.

The case raised many red flags concerning consent and non-maleficence. After decades of atrocities and overcrowding, it was torn down and the Arena District was built in its stead. Still, strange sightings and apparitions have been reported in the area. It’s not surprising considering the history.

Walhalla Road

The story of Walhalla Road is one convoluted by legend. There are many different variations but at its core, they tell the same story of an act of rage and the guilt that inevitably follows. One night a man named Mooney (it never specifies whether this is a first or last name) returns home late and begins arguing with his wife.

In the heat of the moment, Mooney kills her and in a panic, he decides to dismember her in order to conceal the body. This is where the story gets tricky. If you’ve ever walked down Walhalla Road then you have to have come across the distinctive bridge that passes overhead when the road dips into a ravine. Some stories say that Mooney hung himself over the bridge in a fit of guilt. Some say he kicked his wife’s head down the hill of the ravine.

No matter the ending, the result is always the same: The ghost of Mooney and his wife haunt the spooky back road. Some even claim to hear old Mooney’s wife’s head rolling along in the nearby bushes. And at certain times of night, you can see Mooney’s body hanging limply from a noose over the edge of the bridge.

Swaying in the night air, his guilt forcing him to relive his cowardly act over and over, serving as a warning for generations to come.


The causes of the riot are well-documented. Author Roger Morris wrote that "the riot was a predictable incident based on an assessment of prison conditions." [1] Prison overcrowding and inferior prison services, common problems in many correctional facilities, were major causes of the disturbance. [1] On the night of the riot, there were 1,156 inmates in a prison that had beds for fewer than 963. [5] First-time non-violent prisoners were not adequately separated from repeat violent prisoners. Many were housed in crowded unsanitary dormitories. PNM's food was of poor quality, a problem which was exacerbated by the prevalence of cockroaches and mice. Intestinal diseases were common. [6] A visiting warden reported PNM as the filthiest institution he had ever seen. [7]

  • Michael Briones (Albuquerque)
  • Lawrence C. Cardon (Las Cruces)
  • Nick Coca (Taos)
  • Richard J. Fierro (Carlsbad)
  • James C. Foley (Albuquerque)
  • Donald J. Gossens (Farmington)
  • Phillip C. Hernandez (Clovis)
  • Valentino E. Jaramillo (Albuquerque)
  • Kelly E. Johnson (Albuquerque)
  • Steven Lucero (Farmington)
  • Joe A. Madrid (Albuquerque)
  • Ramon Madrid (Las Cruces)
  • Archie M. Martinez (Chimayo)
  • Joseph A. Mirabal (Alamogordo)
  • Ben G. Moreno (Carlsbad)
  • Gilbert O. Moreno (Carlsbad)
  • Thomas O'Meara (Albuquerque)
  • Filiberto M. Ortega (Las Vegas, NM)
  • Frank J. Ortega (Las Vegas, NM)
  • Paulina Paul (Alamogordo)
  • James Perrin (Chaparral)
  • Robert F. Quintela (Carlsbad)
  • Robert L. Rivera (Albuquerque)
  • Vincent E. Romero (Albuquerque)
  • Herman D. Russell (Waterflow)
  • Juan M. Sanchez (Brownsville, Texas)
  • Frankie J. Sedillo (Santa Fe)
  • Larry W. Smith (Kirtland)
  • Leo J. Tenorio (Albuquerque)
  • Thomas C. Tenorio (Albuquerque)
  • Mario T. Urioste (Santa Fe)
  • Danny D. Waller (Lubbock, Texas)
  • Russell M. Werner (Albuquerque)

Another cause was the cancellation of educational, recreational and other rehabilitative programs. [12] When the educational and recreational programs were stopped in 1975, prisoners had to be locked down for long periods. These conditions created strong feelings of deprivation and discontent in the inmate population that would increasingly lead to violence and disorder. [13]

Inconsistent policies and poor communications meant relations between officers and inmates were increasingly in decline. These patterns have been described as paralleling trends in other U.S. prisons as populations started to grow in the 1970s. The Attica prison riot was organized with solidarity among prisoners, demonstrated by their lack of interest in attacking one another, whereas the "snitch system" in the New Mexico Penitentiary pitted inmate against inmate, resulting in the distrust among inmates unless identified with a group. [14]

Following a change in prison leadership in 1975, the penitentiary experienced a shortage of trained correctional staff. A subsequent investigation by the state attorney general's office found that prison officials began coercing prisoners to become informants in a strategy known as "the snitch game". [15] The report said that retribution for snitching led to an increased incidence of inmate-on-inmate violence at the prison in the late 1970s. [16]

There had been several disturbances at the prison prior to the riot. In 1976, a work strike was organized by inmates as a response to the prison's poor conditions. In an attempt to subdue the protestors, Deputy Warden Robert Montoya authorized the use of tear gas against the striking prisoners. As they exited the dormitory coughing from the gas, “they were stripped naked and run nearly a hundred yards down the central corridor through a gauntlet of officials who beat them with ubiquitous ax handles. Called 'the night of the ax handles,' the incident was corroborated by several eyewitnesses, including some officials themselves, and resulted in serious injuries as well as a federal law suit, still pending in 1982, naming deputy warden [Montoya] and a senior guard captain among the assailants". [17] After this violent response to prisoners' concerns, one inmate, Dwight Duran, was prompted to draft a 99-page handwritten civil rights complaint to the US District Court of New Mexico called Duran v Apodaca, later to become the Duran Consent Decree. There was ample evidence from over ten grand jury investigations (between 1977 through 1979) about the conditions at the penitentiary, but the PNM administration resisted the changes and the legislature refused to allocate the necessary funds to make changes. The last time the US District Court grand jury ordered improvements was in November 1979, two months before the riot.

There have been conflicting reports about the inmate population at the time of the riot and the official capacity of the prison that weekend. According to the Report of the Attorney General on the February 2 and 3, 1980, Riot at the Penitentiary of New Mexico (PART I: The Penitentiary, the Riot, the Aftermath - Appendix C1) published the June after the riot, the design capacity of the penitentiary was 1,058, based on the Phase II Technical Report: Facilities Inventory of the 1977 New Mexico Corrections Master Plan. However, that number included the 60 beds in Cell Block 5, which was closed for renovations. It also included the 24 beds in the Annex and the 32 beds in the Modular Unit, both outside of the main facility. The official number of beds available, therefore, on the night of the riot was actually 974, but even that number is hardly fair as it includes the 11 solitary confinement cells in the basement of Cell Block 3. The official population of the prison the night of the riot was determined to be 1,156. [18]

The riot began with many of the prisoners intoxicated from homemade liquor they brewed inside the prison. Inmate Gary Nelson, assigned to E2 bunk 2, heard the plan to jump the guards if they did not lock the door to the dorm during the 1:00 a.m. count. [19]

The routine for the count was two officers first went into the dormitory. A third officer was given all the other officers' keys and locked the door to the dorm until the officers were ready to come out. The dayroom was 60 feet all the way down to the far side of the dorm. [20] The TV needed to be turned off and the dayroom locked. Because of overcrowding, the two officers went down two sides of a center aisle consisting of single beds the length of the dorm. As one officer looked down to the right between the rows of bunk beds, the other officer looked down to the left between the rows of bunks. At the last second, the shift commander entered E2 to help with the count. After he was let in, the officer outside the door did not latch it. The prisoners on the bunks by the door had to keep the door open, otherwise all they would accomplish was the taking of three officers locked in their own dorm.

On Saturday morning at 1:40 a.m., February 2, 1980, on cue, two prisoners in southside Dormitory E2 overpowered the officer before he closed the door. Including the officer manning the door, this meant the prisoners took four officers hostage. They also had escaped E2 dorm. They rushed out and overpowered the other officers engaged in shutting down the Cell Blocks at the south end of the prison. At this point the riot might have been contained if the grill to the south wing had been closed and locked. Officers Larry Mendoza and Antonio Vigil, who were eating breakfast in the officers' mess hall, heard men's voices in the main corridor. [21] A prisoner in an officer's uniform was standing by the open grill, apparently guarding it. Approaching the grill marching north was a hallway filled with prisoners. The officers soon realized the vulnerability of the grill being open as this meant the path lay wide open for the inmates to attack the control center. They both ran to the control center and warned the officer of the situation. The north grill beside the control center had also routinely been left open most nights. The two officers took refuge in the north wing of the prison. The control center closed and locked the north grill behind them.

By 2:05 a.m. the inmates had complete control of the prison by smashing the supposedly bulletproof plate glass window of the control center with a heavy brass fire extinguisher. [22] This gave them control over lock and door controls. [23] However, since they did not know how to open the cell doors automatically from the control center, Cell Houses 1, 2, and 6 had to be opened manually. [24]

Events spiraled out of control within the cell blocks in large part due to the actions of two gangs. The first were the Chicanos, who protected each other and dished out targeted retribution for specific grudges. The other gang was loosely labeled the Aryan Brotherhood and was led by some of the most dangerous inmates (who by this time had been released from segregation in Cell Block 3). They decided to break into Cell Block 4, which held prisoners labeled as informers. Cell Block 4 also housed inmates who were mentally ill, convicted of sex crimes, or otherwise vulnerable, and held a total of 96 prisoners. [25] Initially, after taking over the control center, the call was to immediately take revenge on the snitches at the far north of the prison. However, to get there, they had to pass the Psychology Wing. Multiple prisoners broke in to find stores of drugs purchased in bulk. The drugs were not only consumed but emptied into shoe boxes to distribute to the other prisoners. Then they set a fire in the psychology office in order to destroy the psychology records that had been used to keep some prisoners from obtaining parole. [26]

The first to arrive at Cell Block 4 found they did not have the keys to enter the cellblock. The rioters found blowtorches in nearby Cell Block 5, which had been brought into the prison for construction purposes. They used the blowtorches to cut through the security grills into Cell Block 4 over the next five hours. It was going to take hours to cut through the bars to enter the cell block, so several inmates left to raid the records office to look for files that would identify who the actual informers were. Before sunrise Friday, rioters with walkie-talkies began detailing their plans to harm those in Cell Block 4 to prison officials over the radio, but no action was taken. One official stated, "It's their ass," when overheard speaking about the men in the segregation facility. [27] Locked in their cells, the segregated prisoners called to the State Police outside just beyond the fence, pleading for them to save them. Waiting officers did nothing despite there being a back door to Cell Block 4, which would have offered a way to free them. As the door was intended only for emergency use [28] and therefore never opened, the keys were not readily available. State Police agreed with the prison negotiators not to enter the prison as long as the officers being held hostage were kept alive.

As dawn broke, an 'execution squad' finally cut through the grille and entered the rows of cells. The security panel controlling the cell doors just inside the grille was burned off, meaning each cell would have to be opened with blowtorches one at a time. When opened, victims were pulled from their cells to be tortured, dismembered, hanged, or burned alive. By 10:00 am 12 of the 96 prisoners in Cell Block 4 had been identified as “snitches” and brutally murdered. In total, sixteen inmates would be killed in Cell Block 4, with most of the violence committed by noon that day.

During an edition of BBC's Timewatch program, an eyewitness described the carnage in Cell Block 4. They saw an inmate held up in front of a window he was being tortured by using a blowtorch on his face and eyes until his head exploded. Another story was about Mario Urioste, who was jailed for shoplifting. He was originally placed by officers in a violent unit where he was gang-raped by seven inmates. Mario had filed a lawsuit against his rapists, so prison officials had housed him in Cell Block 4 for his own protection. Urioste was one of the targets for revenge. His body was found hanged, with his throat cut and his dismembered genitals stuffed into his mouth. [29]

Men were killed with piping, work tools, and crude homemade knives called shanks. One man was partially decapitated after being thrown over the second-tier balcony with a noose around his neck. The corpse was then dragged down and hacked up. [1] A fire had been set in the gymnasium to burn a pile of corpses, but it had gotten out of control and burned through the roof. [30] Besides the fire that had been set in the Psychology Wing, a fire was also set in the Protestant Chapel. The Protestant Chaplain had been nicknamed "Ax Handle" for his participation in the Night of the Ax Handles four years earlier. The Catholic Chapel next door was left untouched. Situated across the hall from the main control center, the prison library also was only touched by smoke. [31] A third fire had been set in the records office, burning all records that could have been used as evidence related to the prisoners' civil rights claims in the Duran Consent Decree.

When the riot broke out, prisoners had taken the officers' two-way radios as well as their keys. At 1:57 am the control room heard the first recorded radio transmission by an inmate with a radio, “We got the shift commander hostage. There had better be a meeting with the governor, the news media and Rodriguez.” [32] "…the future course of the uprising will frequently be aimless and wild, with shifting and uncertain leadership, and often politics will be an apparent afterthought. Yet this clipped ultimatum will be testimony that the larger cause is always there. The inmate on the radio knows well…it is King and Rodriguez who will decide the fate of any reform, and they will be held accountable - if at all – by the media.” [33] About thirty minutes after the riot began, Warden Jerry Griffin joined Deputy Warden Robert Montoya and Superintendent of Correctional Security Emanuel Koroneos at the gatehouse beneath Tower 1. Griffin, Montoya and Koroneos decided to attempt to negotiate the release of the hostages. [34] Montoya contacted inmates at about 2:30 a.m. to initiate negotiations, first using a two-way radio in his car, then a hand set from the gate house. Montoya's earliest contact was with an inmate who had been involved with the initial takeover in Dorm E2 and apparently had control of the shift captain throughout the riot. This inmate identified himself as "Chopper One". As Montoya established contact with one inmate, other inmates transmitted conflicting messages, contradicted other inmate "spokesmen", or argued among themselves over the airwaves. Only the radio communications were recorded. [34]

Deputy Warden Robert Montoya had recently taken a course in San Francisco on crisis intervention and a diffident Warden Jerry Griffin deferred to the aggressive deputy warden to negotiate with the inmates by radio for the time being until Rodriguez could be found. Griffin phoned Governor Bruce King at 3:00 a.m. that negotiations are under way and the governor agreed that they should talk rather than retake. He, too, had no choice. [35] A little after 4:00 a.m. a Corrections Department aide finally reached Rodriguez on the telephone. The acting secretary arrived at the penitentiary about 5:00 a.m. and immediately took command. [36]

Saturday morning, between six and seven o'clock, the radio negotiators jockeyed. Inmates asked for a doctor to treat injured guards. Montoya refused and instead asked for the release of wounded hostages. He also denied demands for a media parley and for his resignation. At 8:30 a.m. a field phone was installed to relieve the confusion of multiple walkie-talkies being used by unknown voices. This caused confusion identifying an inmate spokesperson. Roger Morris on page 125 identified Don Stout as providing the first written demands. ""The first document of the negotiation is clear: 'reduce overcrowding. comply with all court orders. no charges to be filed against inmates. due process in classification procedures. " By Saturday afternoon, four inmates are identified as inmate spokespersons. One of them is Lonnie Duran, who had been in solitary when the riot broke out. He had been one of the inmates (with Dwight Duran, no relation) who worked on the Duran Consent Decree since it was filed in New Mexico US District Court in 1977 outlining a raft of prison grievances.

When Lonnie Duran was accepted by Rodriguez as one of the four inmate spokesmen, the inmates repeated eleven demands from the Duran Consent Decree concerned with basic prison conditions including overcrowding, use of solitary confinement, protesting the loss of educational services, and elimination of programs. The prisoners then demanded to speak with independent federal officials and members of the news media.

Some of the officers held hostage were protected and fed by inmates. Two officers, disguised as inmates, were escorted out of the prison by sympathetic inmates. Two officers that had been brutally beaten and raped were carried out on blanket stretchers because the prisoners did not want an officer to die while in their custody. Seven officers suffered severe injuries. "One was tied to a chair. Another lay naked on a stretcher, blood pouring from a head wound." [37]

Negotiations broke off Saturday evening and resumed in the early hours of Sunday morning. The negotiations were not recorded. The government negotiators' strategy was to win control of the prison by stalling.

By mid-afternoon, Sunday, 36 hours after the riot had begun, heavily armed State Police officers accompanied by officers from the Santa Fe Police Department entered the charred remains of the prison.

Official sources state that at least 33 inmates died. Some overdosed on drugs, while others were murdered. [5] Twelve of the victims had been housed in the Protective Custody Unit. [38] More than two hundred inmates were treated for injuries. [39] An investigation by a citizens' panel concluded that the riot was initiated by a small number of inmates. Ray Powell of Albuquerque chaired a panel named by Governor Bruce King and Jeff Bingaman, the New Mexico Attorney General, to assist in the investigation. He concluded that the majority of the inmates were trying to flee from the riot. Powell said the report was based on hundreds of interviews with those involved in the riot and added, "There is one point that comes through time and again, and that is that the riot was started and conducted by a small number of inmates." [40]

After the surrender, it took days before order was maintained enough to ensure that inmates could reoccupy the prison.

The official death toll included 33 people. Of them, 24 were Hispanic, 7 were white, 1 was an African American, and 1 was Native American. [41] In comparison, the inmate population at the Penitentiary of New Mexico during this time was 49% Hispanic, 38% White, 10% Black, and 3% Native American. [42] Author Roger Morris suggests the death toll may have been higher, as a number of bodies were incinerated or dismembered during the course of the mayhem. [43] Several inmates died of drug overdoses after having raided the prison pharmacy.

A few inmates were prosecuted for crimes committed during the uprising, but according to author Roger Morris, most crimes went unpunished. The longest additional sentence given to any convict was nine years. Nationally-known criminal lawyer William L. Summers led the defense team in defending dozens of inmates charged in the aftermath. In 1982, Mr. Summers received the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers Robert C. Heeney award for his work in defending the inmates prosecuted with regard to the riot.

Before and after the riots, Governor King's administration resisted attempts to reform the prison. [1] One federal lawsuit that had been filed was handwritten by inmate Dwight Duran. He lost an inmate friend he had known since childhood after being beaten by guards four years before the riot. Even though his case was supported by the U.S. District Court, actual reforms were held up by negotiations for almost two decades. Actions were not settled until the administration of Governor Toney Anaya (former District Attorney) seven years later. Much of the evidence was lost or destroyed during and after the riot. However, systemic reforms after the riot were undertaken following the Duran v. King consent decree, which included implementation of the Bureau Classification System under Cabinet Secretary Joe Williams. The prison reform work from the Duran case developed the modern correctional system in New Mexico.

In 1989, the Bay Area thrash band Exodus memorialized the riot in "The Last Act of Defiance", the lead-off track of the album Fabulous Disaster.

The 2001 documentary Behind Bars: Riot in New Mexico covers the incident. [44]

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