New Mexico State Penitentiary, Santa Fe, NM (Personal Experiences)

From 2002 to 2010 I have been involved with eight investigations of the old prison outside of Santa Fe. One important thing to understand about all of the investigations before 2010 was that “Old Main” was a secured area that lies on the grounds of the present day Hi-Max Correctional Facility. Everyone entering the grounds had to have a background check and must be escorted by a corrections officer at all times. As you move through the facility, the corrections officer radioed the groups location and movements, so our location was known continuously by the control center of the current prison. This created a type of controlled environment as the location of anyone inside the prison is known.

My first visit to “Old Main” was in October of 2002. This was primarily a media gig with 94 Rock. We were not there to do an investigation but to assist them with a contest they were doing. What happened that evening is important because before the prison was featured on the Morning show, there were no recorded accounts of the prison being haunted.

The radio station had set up an “MTV Fear” style of contest where the contestants would have to perform specific tasks in the old prison. If they were successful, they could qualify to win $1,000.

After arriving at the prison, we were briefed on the contest and that there was a “holding area near the front entrance where everyone would wait while the contestants did their “dares.” We were then given a tour of the grounds, including cell block 4 and the basement. The contestants were no due to arrive for another hour and a half.

After the tour, we took IR cameras down to solitary confinement in Cell Block 3 to monitor the contestant there to ensure that he stayed in the cell for the full twenty minutes of his “dare.” After we positioned the camera, I moved to the far end of the corridor to take photographs while Bob shot IR video from the other end of the hall. After a few minutes, there was a distinct sound of a cell door slowly opening or closing. As I moved towards the area where the sound seemed to be coming from a second similar noise, this time much louder and faster, echoed down the hallway behind my position.

Bob, assuming that the noise was coming from the contestants, started to radio into the holding area to confirm that the contestants had arrived. Suddenly his radio began changing frequencies by itself when suddenly a loud noise echoed down the hallway that resembled a cell door violently slamming shut. The sound came from somewhere behind me. The sudden noise

startled me for a few seconds but I moved forward to look for the source of the first strange noise. Bob quickly walked forward towards me and after verifying that I was okay, began checking the area. All of the cell doors were closed and locked when we arrived to set up the cameras, and they were still closed and locked. We attempted to replicate the sound by banging on the cell doors themselves and trying to open them. However, we could not reproduce anything that sounded close to the noises we heard earlier. Bob, on the other hand, thought that the noise may have originated from one of the cells upstairs, so we moved up two levels to the top tier. We were unable to locate anything that could have caused any of the loud noises. So we continued down the catwalk of the cellblock, taking photos. Just as we reached the end of the catwalk, a repeating thumping noise moved across a ventilation pipe towards us, eventually stopping three feet away from our position.


Although it was quite strange and downright spooky, we assumed it was a wild animal running inside of the pipe towards us. Still uncertain if the contestants had arrived, we then moved back to the holding area at the front of the prison.

Once we were outside, we were able to talk to some of the former guards of the prison and showed the video of the incident in cell block three to them and the radio staff. One of the guards thought the sound resembled a fuse blowing out so we went down there to check it out. When we reached the panel that contained the fuses, we discovered that all of the fuses were missing. So the noise could not have come from the panel.  Meanwhile, several of the radio staff had heard noises coming from the guard tower while we were in cell block three. They said that the noises sounded like the trap door of the guard tower being opened and slammed shut. Once we arrived and were told of the latest strange event, we all moved off to the tower to check it out.

Bob moved about, trying to isolate the origin of the noise while the remainder of the group received visitors, one being the former warden of the prison. When asked about the tower and if anything had happened there, he merely replied: “There are some things you just do not want to know.” He would not comment on the tower any further. Bob was unable to find anything that could make a noise that resembled the sound heard by the radio station staff. Shortly afterward, the contestants arrived, and the contest began.

While waiting during the contest, another guard had left to check the fuses in cell block three. Apparently there was another circuit box that we did not check.  He returned and informed us that the fuses were all okay. He had no idea what could have caused that noise.

After the completion of the “dare” in Cellblock four, we were able to move around that area and see what we could find. We were on the bottom tier walking towards the opposite end of the corridor when the squeaky sound of a metal door closing rang out from behind us. We turned to see that one of the doors we had passed was now wide open. We moved back to check out that area but found nothing unusual. The door itself was quite heavy, maybe 60 pounds or so and the hinges were rusted. After manually closing and opening it, we ruled out the possibility of it being pushed open by a gust of air or by the vibration of us walking past it. We later learned from a guard that all of these doors had been locked. The door that had opened was very freaky because it was locked shut and they did not have a key for it, making it impossible even to open it in the first place.


However, there was something that was quite unsettling about some of those facts. The radio station was told that the power to the prison was shut off. Yet during one of the contestant dares, one of the DJs (Rainman) made a remark about a light being on in cell block 3 and how it should not be on because there is no power. Additionally, if there was no power to any of the other cell blocks, then why did the corrections officer suspect that the noise we had heard and recorded was a blown fuse? If there really were no power, then that would not have been an issue.

Several of the other odd events that evening also seemed very suspicious to me. I’ve been investigating haunted places for over twenty years at this point, and on the majority of these investigations absolutely nothing happens. On rare occasions, you might experience one unusual incident that requires further investigation. Yet here at Old Main, on one single night, there are half a dozen such events. Something does not seem right. Were the officers at the prison that night playing things up for the radio? After all, no one was really keeping track of them, so the opportunity was there. The noises in cell block 3 and the banging door in the guard tower would be quite easy to pull off. Of course, at this time it was merely a gut feeling, and I was unable to prove anything. However, in hindsight, it is important to note that all of the future investigations of the penitentiary would not have the same amount of unusual occurrences. In fact on several, absolutely nothing strange happened

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