Church Street Cafe, Albuquerque, NM (Ghost Stories)

On occasion, the dolls in the china closet at the entrance to the Church Street Cafe move. Some turn around. Some shift in place. A few press their faces against the glass. Only one person has a key to the display case, but restaurant owner Marie Coleman doesn’t touch the dolls except to put them back in their proper place. Something, or someone, else is responsible for the intermittent redecorating.

Coleman was a college student in 1993 when a boring study session in the library convinced her to get a little fresh air. She drove to Old Town to go for a walk and stretch her legs. Behind the San Felipe de Neri Church, Coleman spotted a home that drew her interest. “I saw this old building that was just melting into the ground,” she says. Inside the building, Coleman saw cobwebs and a sagging roof.

Later, Coleman would discover that the Casa de Ruiz was more than 300 years old and had survived a flood and then been remodeled several times. At one point, the hacienda held 18 rooms.

Coleman fell in love with the building and offered the realtor half of the asking price, thinking there was no way the offer would be accepted. She was wrong. Still in college and with no real plan to speak of, Coleman had become the owner of a decrepit building.

Fortunately, she had restaurateurs in the family. She also had a close family friend in contractor Charlie Trujillo. “He was an old curandero. If you [don’t] know what a curandero is, they’re kind of like healers and more spiritual, I guess, than I am,” Coleman says. Trujillo took on the contract and started repairs to the building.

“One day I came in, and Trujillo was by the fireplace writing a list of all the things I needed to do that day and what I needed to pick up. It was never on a piece of paper; Charlie would find scraps somewhere to write this list down,” Coleman says. Trujillo was shaking his head, and it concerned Coleman. She asked him what was wrong.

“Can you just tell me why you can’t talk to your ghost? Just let her know that everything is going to be OK,” Trujillo said.

“What ghost, Charlie?” Coleman asked.

“The ghost that lives here,; she follows you everywhere,” Trujillo responded.

Coleman didn’t believe in ghosts at the time but thought she should play along with Trujillo. “Charlie, what is her name?” she asked.

“Sarah,” Trujillo said.

“She lived here?”

“Yeah.”

“What would you like me to tell her?”

“Just tell her that things will be fine. That we’re going to restore the place and she’ll have lots of people to entertain,” Trujillo responded.

“Sarah, this is all gonna be fine. We’re gonna restore the place, and it’s gonna be nice once again. There’s gonna be lots of people who’ll come through, and you’ll be able to have fun,” Coleman told both Trujillo and the ghost. Then she asked Trujillo if that was OK.

“Oh, that was good, but can you tell her one more thing?” Trujillo said.

“What?”

“Can you tell her to stop kicking the buckets? I know she has to feed the chickens every morning, but she does not have to kick the buckets. It really annoys me,” Trujillo said.

Later, Coleman went to the state archives in Santa Fe to research the Ruiz home. While digging through papers, she discovered something. Sarah Ruiz had lived at the house just years before Coleman arrived.

“There was a lady who lived here in Old Town, right next door, and her name was Maria,” Coleman says. “I saw her out there one day watering.” Coleman decided to ask about Sarah.

“Maria, did you know the lady who used to live in this house?” Coleman said.

“Oh yes, I can tell you lots of stories about Sarah. She and I were very good friends,” Maria said.

“Did she have chickens?”

“Oh yes. Every once in a while one of those chickens would get loose and she’d go chasing after it,” Maria said.

In the years since she first met Sarah, Coleman says that a number of people have visited the restaurant and encountered Sarah both as an adult and as a little girl. Sarah, it seems, loved to play with dolls almost as much she likes to entertain and take care of her chickens.

 

Story from the Santa Fe New Mexican, Oct, 30, 2020

Written by Jason Strykowski

Double Eagle Restaurant, Mesilla, NM (Revised Ghost Story)

he adobe home in which the Double Eagle restaurant is located was built during the boom time for Mesilla in the 1840’s and is acknowledged as the oldest building in Historic Old Mesilla. Although Mesilla was a well-known watering and stop-over spot for trails east and west as well as north and south since ancient Indian times, the real founding of Mesilla was the late 1840’s after the Mexican American War. Many Mexican citizens resented the United States taking the northern half their country and refused the offer of United States citizenship moving south of the new border to Mesilla. The home was a private residence up until the 1950’s when it was abandoned for a time, was used as a cotton warehouse and became a series of shops until 1972. It was then purchased by Robert O. Anderson who hired internationally known John Miegs to collect the museum quality antiques, paintings, sculptures, wood work and other things which make the Double Eagle unique. The building is a National and State Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The current owner is a fifth generation New Mexican C. W. Buddy Ritter.

When Anderson purchased the building, he had no idea the place was haunted. Haunted by, not one, but two ghosts! As strange things happened, investigations were launched. Like the game in which a story is whispered down a line of people, changing at each retelling, there are wild and interesting stories about Armando and Inez, the ghostly lovers. But, here is the tale as best we can piece together.

The first owners of the house were the Maes family. They ran a freight line importing/exporting goods. When their base in Santa Fe was taken over by the Americans after the Mexican-American War of 1846-48, they moved south to the spot called La Mesilla. From the grand size of the house they built, one can see the family had big plans for the future. Especially the mother. She was very proud of her family, its prestige, power and connections. Her plans centered on her eldest son, a teenager named Armando. She constantly reminded him of his duty to the family. One old-timer reports his grandmother said, choosing an old Spanish saying, that Senora Maes had stars in her eyes.

Such a large house required many servants. One of the servants was a teenage girl named Inez. Inez was said to be very beautiful with long, black hair reaching to her waist. Well, a teenage boy and a teenage girl under one roof…they fell in love. Armando knew his mother would not approve and they tried to keep their love a secret. But, the shy touches, the ‘chance meetings’ in the house and other signs of love blooming alerted the other servants to the secret. Soon, the servants were all in on the secret and worked to hide the romance from La Senora.

It was not long before most of the village knew of the devotion the young people felt for each other and the villagers, knowing La Senora’s snobbish ways, kept the secret. The shy young man and the beautiful maiden walking together on a errand across the Plaza caused many an older heart to remember their own younger days and to smile. All was right with the world under the bright blue sky of La Mesilla.

Finally, inevitably, La Senora discerned the lovesick Armando was paying too much attention to Inez. Confronting her son, Armando confessed his love but La Senora refused to accept this. She flew into a rage and ordered Inez from the house. She reminded Armando of his station in life and of his duty to the family. She forbade Armando to see Inez. But, do teenage boys listen to their mother?

La Senora, concerned by her discovery, decided to arrange her son’s betrothal immediately. She set out on a trip to arrange a marriage proper for Armando and in keeping with his status – and that of the family. She struck a deal quickly and returned to her home unexpectedly soon.

The reaction of the servants to the early return of La Senora raised her suspicions. She asked for Armando to attend her so she could give him the good news but got conflicting answers about his location. She walked to Armando’s room and, hearing voices within, opened the door. And there she found the beautiful Inez in the arms of Armando.

Shocked and enraged, La Senora stepped back into what is now the restaurant’s Patio area and, stumbling over her sewing basket, her hand fell onto her sewing shears. Seemingly in a trance, La Senora returned to the bedroom where Armando and Inez were hastily dressing. Without a sound, the shears were raised and plunged into Inez’s breast. Again, the shears were raised, but Armando screaming “No, Mama! No!” rushed to shield his beloved and La Senora unseeing drove the shears into her own son’s back. At Armando’s cry of pain, La Senora came to her senses and, realizing what she had done, uttered a cry – reports tell us – which was as stricken and grief-filled as was ever given voice.

La Senora stepped back to see Inez crumpled on the floor with blood gushing from a gaping wound while Armando, himself bleeding from the hole torn in his back, cradled her, gently stroking her hair. The servants rushed to the room and witnessed a look of tender love exchanged between Armando and Inez. As Armando bent to kiss her lips, he felt her last breath brush his cheeks now wet with tears. As Armando clung to her body, he raised his head as if someone had called him. Staring into an empty corner, his surprised face suddenly burst into a brilliant smile. He seemed to be listening to someone speak. La Senora spoke his name and approached to care for his wound but, at her touch, he collapsed, never looking at her.

Armando never regained consciousness and died there days later.

And, so, here ends our tale of woe…or does it?

The Maes family avoided legal problems through their influence and wealth, almost immediately selling the house and moving into the interior of Mexico. It is not known for sure what happened after that but Mesilleros say La Senora did not speak from the day of the murders. Her last spoken word had been her dying son’s name.

Mesilleros honored the dead lovers for many years on the Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) but slowly memories fade. Succeeding owners of the house reported strange events, sightings of a beautiful young girl, odd happenings, unexplained events. Reports of voices whispering and the smell of a lavender perfume occurred. The story of the lovers was passed on generation to generation but, slowly, people forgot. By the 1950’s and 1960’s even the Day of the Dead celebrations faded. New things took the place of story telling – radio, television. The elders were not respected as in the past. Their words were not valued any more.

Then, the Double Eagle restaurant came. The lively commerce of a busy business must have rejuvenated the two spirits because they became quite active with unexplained occurrences happening quite often. Never with malice or anger. More like high spirited pranks of a couple of teenagers.

Slowly, memories of stories their grandfathers had told returned to the old people of the village. The strange events at the restaurant were common talk and slowly the story of the two ghostly lovers was revealed. Old records were checked in Mesilla and El Paso. Even the records from the cathedral in Chihuahua were reviewed for details.

References:

Viva Mesilla

Double Eagle of Mesilla Ghost Story (NM True Video)

The Double Eagle is famed for its food, but maybe just as famous for a ghostly side dish. The restaurant was once a home, and home to the tragic death of a pair of young lovers. Today it is the frequent haunt of both those two teens and of visitors in search of a fine green chile cheeseburger.

Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas, NM (Ghost Stories with skeptical commentary)

The Clovis News Journal publishes the first written account of the Plaza Hotel having a ghost on March 9th, 1983.

   ” A ghost who haunts the stairwells, reminiscences of visits from Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, and a terrain which made the area a Haven for outlaws, are all part of the colorful history surrounding the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas. The hotel plans to reopen later this month.

The restoration is a project of the plaza partnership of Lonnie and Dana Lucero and William and Catherine Slick. The hotel renovation is being done at the cost of approximately $2 million with the completion date expected to be March 18th. The hotel will have 39 rooms varying in price from $40 for a single to $65 for suites.

The entry lobby, located in the center of the first floor between dining room & bar, spotlights to large mahogany staircases, one on each side, leading to the second and third floors. An iron stove and an antique piano grace the intimate seating areas in the lobby while a

landscaped conservatory set off from the central area will serve as a reading room.

Gracious furniture from the past decorates the halls of the upper floors, and according to Mrs. Lucero, the pieces were purchased after a lengthy search nationwide. Some require restoration, but many were in Prime condition.

According to Mrs. Lucero, the ghost of a Mr. Mills who was once the owner of the hotel and who died in one of the rooms on the second floor still haunts the stairwells and halls of the hotel. The apparition reportedly has been seen by several of the employees of the hotel including herself and her husband. ” it is not a menacing ghost,” she said.”

 

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The deserted tunnels under the hotel.

While the story does not offer much information, it does identify the first problem, longevity. If Byron T. Mills indeed haunted the Plaza Hotel, there would have been more recorded accounts of unusual phenomenon since the time of his death in 1947. Yet there are no written accounts, newspaper or otherwise, until 1983.

What makes this rather odd is that Mrs. Lucy Lopez, known as Mama Lucy to her friends, ran the Plaza Hotel Restaurant and Bar for fourteen years with her husband. They rented part of the hotel as a dormitory for New Mexico Highlands University students and sold meal tickets for the restaurant as an alternative to the university cafeteria. Daily lunch and dinner cost $30 a month. If there were a ghost in the hotel, if paranormal phenomenon of some type were occurring, there would definitely be stories from this period of time. There just is not any accounts of anything unusual, written or verbal.

The story suggests that the initial paranormal experiences were noticed during the renovation of the hotel. During the renovations, the building was closed, and rooms were not rented out. Empty locations like this will often have a strange ambiance that many would describe as eerie. Certain sounds may become more noticeable, and the psychological effects of being alone in these types of spaces are often misinterpreted as being caused by a ghost. The article also presents a piece of misleading information. Byron T. Mills did not die on the second floor of the Plaza Hotel. He passed away at the Elks Lodge in  Miami while attending a convention in 1947.

However, the typical spiritualist ghost hunter would claim that the remodeling of the hotel is the catalyst that “activate” the haunting.  This spiritualist belief is often thrown about when haunted places are shown to have no longevity in their stories. Of course, this notion is based entirely on sheer speculation. However, the Plaza Hotel has been through several major renovations since 1983.  The Las Vegas Daily Optic wrote about one of these in detail in 1963. This article is relevant because of the changes that were made and the work that was done. These will be very relevant in some of the stories that are told later on.

“The hotel including the coffee shop and ballroom had been closed for a couple of months while the new owners Mr. and Mrs. Eloy Montoya, were remodeling.

The first part of the remodeling job on the historic old hotel, built in 1882, on the West Las Vegas Plaza, was the ballroom. A new entrance to the ballroom from Hot Springs Boulevard has been made, and the entranceway is carpeted as is the bandstand. The ballroom floor has been completely refinished and the entire room painted. The columns in the center of the room have been revealed by removing their board coverings. The windows were un-boarded and window panes put in.

Montoya says that during the next months the front of the building will be remodeled with new windows and doors to be installed. Old brick will be used in the remodeling of the front of the building.

The Montoya’s plan to open a supper club at the old hotel around Christmas time. The Supper Club will occupy the rooms which were the old lobby and coffee shop. The partitions hiding the stairways will be removed. The kitchen will also be remodeled.

Montoya said that the bar & cocktail lounge area of the old hotel would be rented to another business. He plans to operate a bar only in connection with the ballroom and Supper Club.

After the Supper Club is finished, Montoya plans to remodel rooms in the front of the third floor and part of the second floor and open the hotel for business. Much of the back part of the hotel will be torn down and parking space provided for patrons.

The Montoya’s purchased the Plaza Hotel from Mrs. Eva Gonzalez of Santa Ana California. The transaction started about a year ago, however, the Montoya’s did not take over the hotel until this fall.

Montoya is supervising all of the remodeling work on the hotel and doing much of it himself.”

The building has changed dramatically over the years. In the 1880’s the dining room was where the bar is located today,  north of the lobby overlooking the Plaza Park. The kitchen was on the north side of the hotel where the La Fonda headboards are currently on display. The hallway leading to the Ilfeld wing was only a door that opened out into an alley between the two buildings. The current dining room was initially an area where two retail spaces were located. They were divided by a wall where the columns are now and had large doors and windows which faced the Plaza. Behind this area to the was a huge dance hall. Today it is the kitchen. By the 1970’s most of the Plaza and Bridge Street was abandoned. These major renovations occurred in the 1980’s.

The next newspaper article was entitled “New Mexico: History’s Spirit Lives On” and was published in the Aiken Standard on May 9, 1986.

“There’s No gambling in the hotels of Las Vegas, not this Las Vegas, anyway, but there are resident ghosts.  According to New Mexico legend, Byron T. Mills, one of the original builders of The Plaza Hotel, is renowned for switching on the lights when no one is looking. And if one searches carefully, he or she might just run up on the ghost of a long-ago town dentist, Doc Holliday.”

This is the first and only mention of Doc Holiday haunting the hotel. The fact that it appears in an out of state newspaper is highly suggestive that the ghost stories are now being used to promote the hotel. The problem that occurs when this happens is that it creates an ideal environment to induce myth-building. The stories themselves become more important than the facts. Anything that is perceived as unusual is promptly “blamed” on the ghost.  This is due, in part, to the power of suggestion. If a place is rumored to be haunted, people visiting that place will expect to experience some strange event, even if the event itself is mundane. The legitimacy of the “haunting” is never questioned.  This becomes apparent on  October 30th, 1988, when an article about several of New Mexico’s hauntings was published in the Albuquerque Journal. It contains several more ghost stories from the Plaza Hotel. While reading it, consider some of the possible alternative explanations for what is occurring.

” Late at night, when the lobby of the Plaza Hotel is eerily silent, the glassware in a Cupboard along the gloomy back hallway sometimes starts to tinkle.

The hall is next to the staircase and is partially shielded from the lobby by the rear of the cupboard. It has been demonstrated that the only way to shake the wooden floor- enough to make the cupboard and its contents rattle- is for a hefty person to trend heavily along this hallway.

The first night he distinctly heard the glasses clinking, Mike Williams was at the registration desk in the otherwise vacant lobby. Williams tiptoed a dozen paces, diagonally across the room, and peered into the hallway.

The tinkling stopped.

No one was there.

The only other door, one that leads outdoors the opposite end of the hall, what still locked.

There was no open window, no errant breeze, and the street outside was deserted.

Williams says the tinkling unnerved him even more than did the falling transoms, the swinging doors, and the sudden chills.

Toni Lujan, who also works evenings at the desk, says that last summer she saw a courtly and austere gentleman, dressed impeccably and a black suit, descending the stairway on the other side of the lobby.

A number of casually dressed guests were about, she says, and she thought the man looked somehow odd and out of place. She was distracted for a few seconds ” and when I looked back,” she says, ” the man had vanished.”

The speculation is that Lujan saw the ghost of Byron T. Mills, one-time part owner of the hotel. He died, apparently from natural causes, in one of its rooms sometime in the 1930s. Little is known of his past.

According to the accounts of some guests, Mills favored the second floor of the west wing.

Katherine Slick, a partner in the hotel, that’s a woman who slept in one of those rooms told her she had experienced a violent nightmare in which she saw herself killing someone. The following morning, the woman said, she awoke to find her clothing strewn about the room and all the towels stained with a chocolate colored substance. No evidence of blood or of chocolate was elsewhere in the room, not on her body, not on any of the furniture or on the floor. The woman packed and fled.

Despite this story, Mill’s ghost is evidently a benign spirit and means no harm to more worldly residents.

Slick, a businesswoman who is also a partner in a enterprise that restores historic buildings and Las Vegas, says Mill’s ghost is blamed for the destruction not long ago of a large, glass vase.

The vase, heavy and itself, was partially filled with water and an arrangement of fresh flowers. It sat in the middle of a table near the center of the lobby.

One clear afternoon, the double front doors suddenly flew open and something, witnesses say it is best described as a wind, swept through the lobby. The vase hurtled off the table, crashed to the floor and shattered.

Both sets of the double door to the lobby swing to the outside.

Last spring, Williams was reading a book during his night shift at the registration desk. About 3:30 a.m., he says, the latch was tripped on one set of double doors, and they swung open.

Well, he was pondering this curiosity, he says, the doors closed and the other pair, across the room, opened.

” I thought something strange was going on,” he says. Although he saw nothing, he says ” it was as if someone had entered, walked across the lobby and left through the other doors.”

Williams had scarcely recovered when the transoms above the doors suddenly dropped open with a bang. ” I got the chills,” he says, ” but I got up and closed the transoms. I was so upset that I went through the swinging half doors to the office and sat on the desk. While I was sitting there, one of those doors swung open, and the air around me got colder than a refrigerator.”

The story is full of assumptions, and there are many alternative explanations for what the employees experienced. We will start with Mike William’s account of the glassware tickling in the cupboard. The newspaper article does provide a very vital clue.

“It has been demonstrated that the only way to shake the wooden floor- enough to make the cupboard and its contents rattle- is for a hefty person to trend heavily along this hallway.’

So the direct cause of the phenomenon is vibration. If a “hefty person” walking down the hallway can cause the glassware to make noises, so could any other type of vibration of a similar magnitude.  This could be caused by passing vehicle traffic outside, but more than likely an earthquake is a culprit. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), small earthquakes are frequent in Northern New Mexico.  These earthquakes typically have a magnitude of 2.0 to 3.2.  A 2.0 earthquake is tiny, and it will not usually wake someone up. Trees may sway slightly, and small ponds ripple. Doors swing slowly. However, you can’t tell that an earthquake is to blame. Earthquakes with magnitude of about 2.0 or less are usually called microearthquakes. They are so small that people do not commonly feel them. However, a microearthquake of this size could cause the glassware to rattle. In fact, given the sheer number of microearthquakes that hit Northern New Mexico every year, it is probably the culprit of the majority of the phenomenon that was published in this newspaper article.

New Mexico State Penitentiary, Santa Fe, NM (More Witness Accounts and Ghost Stories)

One of the popular ghost stories that have come out of the prison involves a member of one of the film crews who reported seeing the dark-garbed figure while he was alone in the prison. The figure went into a bathroom. When the crew member followed, the bathroom was empty. An article published in the Santa Fe New Mexican on October 31st, 2010 provides more detail on the crew member’s experience. It was written by Robert and was entitled “Chasing ghosts in the old pen.”

   “We got the bad news when we walked up to the entrance of the old New Mexico State Penitentiary right at dusk. There’s no electricity in the joint. So once the sun goes down, you can’t see your hand in front of your face.

Not that we wanted to see our hands. What we wanted to see in the old pen were ghosts. And that’s why this New Mexican reporter joined photographer Luis Sanchez Saturno one night this week to do time after dark in the now vacant structure, south of Santa Fe off N.M. 14.

And our guide, retired New Mexico State Penitentiary guard Rick LaMonda, was right: After 6:30 p.m., it was pitch dark in the prison. No lights, no heat, and no running water.

The pen has a bloody history. The February 1980 riot led to the deaths of at least 33 inmates, many of whom suffered extremely violent deaths at the wrong end of a blowtorch. At that time, there were more than 1,100 men in the prison, which was built in the mid-1950’s. After the riot, new facilities were constructed north and south of the main prison, and new prison buildings were erected near Las Cruces, Los Lunas, and Grants to ease the overcrowding. Over time, all the inmates from the main facility were moved out to the other sites, and late in 1998 former Gov. Gary Johnson closed the main facility, noting that it represented “uncontrollable disturbances.”

Since then, the site has been used as a location for film productions including the 2005 remake of  The Longest Yard and the yet-to-be-released romantic fantasy Passion Play as well as National Guard and New Mexico State Police training, according to LaMonda. But other than that, it’s been empty, except perhaps, for the ghosts.

We’d heard the stories told by former prison employees and cast and crew members from film sets: disembodied voices moaning through the cell blocks, apparitions of former convicts wandering the halls, the sound of a cell door slamming shut when no one is around, and so on.

LaMonda passed on one such tale he heard from a Passion Play employee who spotted a male figure clad in green convict garb walking by the accounting office in the pen around 10 one night. No one else was supposed to be in the building, so the brave crew member looked into the bathroom where the figure entered. No one was there.

A moment later, the figure came out and walked back in the other direction, disappearing into the darkness of the hall.

LaMonda, who insists he does not believe in ghosts, is the unofficial custodian of the prison now. He has two first-hand stories of his own. Once, while making his rounds in the basement after dark, he was startled as a huge white ball flew at his head. He ducked, swung his flashlight around, and discovered, on a nearby perch, a big white owl staring at him.

His other tale isn’t so easily explained, though he maintains it is not supernatural. On at least four occasions, he has seen a dark figure, its shadow spotlighted against a window at the end of the hall, walking across the hall to another. When he investigates, there’s no one there.

Still, he doesn’t buy into the ghost business. “I need an explanation for it,” he said. “I’ll find an explanation for it. It could be an animal, or the reflection of traffic passing nearby.”

Animals are in the old pen, he said. The distant sound of a crying phantom can probably be traced to a band of feral cats who live in the basement and often fight among themselves. Yes, you may hear the moans of tormented souls echoing through the prison’s chambers. But upon closer inspection, you discover the noise is emanating from some not too-to-distant dog kennels used by the state police. Raccoons have managed to get into the place, and their five toe paw prints imprinted in the dust of the floor might suggest a devilish creature lurking about.

Other noises might not come from wildlife, but nature does play a hand. Like that wailing sound coming out of Cell Block 2? That’s the wind passing through air-conditioning ducts on the ceiling. And it’s mighty eerie to hear.

That icy frost hitting your body? Well, the prison has a lot of open windows, and the wind rushes through them, especially on a cold autumn night.

That’s not to say your imagination won’t start conjuring up ghosts around every corner. In one darkened room, all three of us heard the distant noise of something hitting the floor to our immediate right, something akin to a steel pipe being dropped.

“But who did it?” LaMonda asked us, still unwilling to consider the option of a spectral companion.

Later, while sitting alone in a cell in Cell Block 4, where vengeful prisoners killed cons who were in protective custody because the latter provided insider information to the warren and guards, I heard two noises that couldn’t be immediately explained. A sudden “bump” sound came from the threshold of the cell as I sat on the bunk. Then, while I was whispering some gibberish to the video camera set up by my colleague, Luis, a distinct “shhhhh” noise erupted from the darkness. It wasn’t Luis or Rick (or so they claim) as they had both moved out of the cell block earlier.

You can still see the outline of the charred imprints of blow torch victims in two spots in Cell Block 4 (including right outside my cell)> LaMonda says various attempts to wash, bleach or paint over the figures on the floor have failed.

He’ll acknowledge the prison itself is scary. He said an extra on one movie set wandered off on his own, walked into a cell, and had the door inexplicably shut on him, leaving him locked up. The production team couldn’t find the extra, so they called in LaMonda, who found the man shivering on an old bunk in the corner. LaMonda let the unfortunate actor out, and the guy promptly quit the show!

Nationwide, abandoned prisons are rumored to be haunted. Alcatraz. Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania. West Virginia Penitentiary. The Old Jail in St. Augustine, Fla.

Maybe these haunted-prison stories stem from the notion that some men and women will always serve time, even after death. We were lucky. Some people get locked away forever. We got out before the chimes of midnight rang, signaling the witching hour.

But LaMonda will go back when called, walking the deserted halls alone, armed only with his flashlight. He claims he has no fear of the unearthly

His biggest concern is unexpectedly coming across a homeless person looking for a place to sleep or a youngster out to cause mischief. He’s not sure how he would react to them.

“The living scare me,” he said. “Not the dead. The dead don’t bother me.”

And he, apparently, does not bother them either.”

There is a lot to discuss about this article. I’ll start with the account from the Passion Play employee. First of all, there is the assumption that “no one else was supposed to be in the building.”  As I mentioned earlier, Old Main sits right next to the present day Hi-Max facility and as such an escort is required to be on-site anytime someone is in Old Main. This is a precautionary measure. If something bad was to occur in the Hi-Max, their job is to escort the visitors off of the prison grounds. This means that the employee was not alone and also offers many alternative explanations for the “ghost” sighting.

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Additionally, the account is a little misleading as there is not a direct line of sight from the administrative office to the restrooms. By the employee’s admission, it is dark and at a distance of about thirty feet. This makes a rather low-grade observation. The area near the restrooms also contains access to several other rooms, which were often used to store props and other materials for the film production crew. There is more than one place a person could have gone in the area other than the restrooms.

However, the more exciting thing that the article mentions is the rational explanations given to the various phenomena by Rick LaMonda. This is because LaMonda has had to be in the building for extended periods of time. If there was a noise, it was his job to investigate it to ensure that no one had broken into the building, and as a result, he is familiar with its conditions and sounds. This lies in direct contrast to many of the other accounts where the witness was merely visiting Old Main.

LaMonda was extremely helpful during our multiple investigations inside Old Main. In fact, many members of the team gave Rick the nickname “Elvis” because of his long sideburns. Where ever we were, if something unusual was heard, seen or felt, LaMonda would say, “Oh, I know what that is,” and would lead the group directly to the source of the disturbance. The same elements are true with Marcella Armijo, another person who has spent extensive time at the penitentiary. Yet in all that time she only had one thing happen that she would consider being unusual “but probably not a ghost.”

Another actor, Scott Patterson, was working at Old Main where he also claimed to have a paranormal encounter. His ghost story was actually featured on a television program. This is his account.

   “After landing the role of an Army captain in charge of the prison in the movie The Boys of Abu Ghraib, actor Scott Patterson (The Gilmore Girls) reached Albuquerque around midnight, arriving on a late night flight. A producer on the new film greeted him at the airport.

Instead of heading for his hotel, Patterson accepted the producer’s offer to take him for a late night visit to the site selected for filming the interior prison scenes — the abandoned, former maximum-security New Mexico State Penitentiary, located just outside of Santa Fe.

Also at his producer’s suggestion, Patterson decided to visit Death Row. He intended to sit in the chair inside the gas chamber itself for “the experience.”

As the two men made their way underground three levels toward the gas chamber, Patterson noted a spot on the floor where the concrete had been marred by what appeared to be hacking marks. Further along the way, he saw a blackened spot on the floor that he didn’t understand, uneasily noting it took the vague shape of a human form.

When they reached the viewing room for the gas chamber, the two men found a small lit candle standing upright in a chair.  By Patterson’s account, the producer looked terrified and claimed to have no knowledge of how the candle got there. He expressed an interest in leaving at that point, but Patterson said, “My training is such that I don’t back away from such experiences.”

So he insisted on continuing on until he actually sat in the gas chamber chair. Patterson described what happened next as he looked as his producer, standing in the entrance to the gas chamber:

…and I looked at him. I noticed that he was fixated on the viewing area behind me. And I turned around. In the viewing area, we saw black shapes, sitting in chairs.

We ran so fast…

As the two men ran from Death Row, Patterson claimed that they encountered a winged demonic specter in a stairwell that literally flew at them.  The two men cowered in fright, screaming like little children. Patterson exclaimed, “And we felt it whoosh over us, actually felt the wind over us.”

Somewhere along the line as they fled in terror, Patterson dropped his cell phone. The following morning, a sound technician, a local hire, found the phone on Death Row and returned it.

The technician said, Wait a minute. You went down into the death chamber at night? No, no, no, no, no, no, no. Don’t you know the history of this prison?”

An interesting ghost story isn’t it? However, that is all that it is. As I have mentioned, visitors are never left alone in Old Main. The dark figure they saw behind them was actually Officer LaMonda, who told me his version of the event along with the occasional chuckle. As for the “winged demonic specter,” say hello the big owl that lives in the basement, just down the hall from the gas chamber. Having run into her (the owl) myself, I can attest that it is quite a startling experience.

Double Eagle Restaurant, Mesilla, NM (Ghost Stories)

The spirits of two tragic teenage lovers complement the menu in this restaurant in Old Mesilla. They were stabbed to death with sewing shears, and reportedly like to sit in the chairs. Take a look at this video from NM True TV.