Just 700 miles North East of the haunted Yuma Prison in Arizona is the New Mexico State Penitentiary which many consider the most haunted place in New Mexico. The areas of the prison where the most unusual phenomena reported are Cell Blocks 3, 4, the toolroom and the laundry room.
The Penitentiary of New Mexico (PNM) or New Mexico State Penitentiary as it is also known is a men’s maximum-security prison located in unincorporated Santa Fe County, 15 miles (24 km) south of central Santa Fe. It’s operated by the New Mexico Corrections Department.
Opened in 1885, the New Mexico State Penitentiary had been authorized by Congress since 1853. Before it moved in 1956, there had been riots; the first occurring on July 19, 1922 and the second on June 15th, 1953.
In 1980, Cell Block 4, at the far northern end from the Control Center, was the scene of one of the most violent prison riots in the correctional history of the United States.
The riot began with many of the prisoners intoxicated from homemade liquor they brewed inside the prison. Over two days, 33 inmates were killed and 12 officers were held hostage by prisoners who had escaped from crowded dormitories located at the southern end from the Control Center.
Men were brutally butchered, dismembered, and decapitated and hung up on the cells and burned alive. 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.
An unusual phenomenon was reported by corrections officers and national guardsmen who use the facility for training. The commonly reported things are the human shaped shadows and the “burning flesh smell. It has been witnessed from 1981 and has continued into the present day. The tool room and laundry room were known for having these spectral occurrences.
Cell Block 3 was the maximum security ward which also contains the solitary confinement cell. Activity reported here includes unexplainable noises, a burning flesh or “death” smell, doors that open and close by themselves, and lights that turn on and off without any apparent cause.
Cell block 4 was the area where the “snitches” and other prisoners held in protective custody were contained. Upon entering the cell block, there are marks on the floor where rioters used power tools to decapitate the snitches and several other inmates.
The activity reported here is similar to those reported in Cell Block 3, while the commonly reported things in the laundry room are the human shaped shadows and the “burning flesh smell”.
Reports from ghost hunters who visited the place for an investigation were that the noises, especially those that are loud and sound like cell doors slamming shut are elusive, and they were not able to identify any alternative explanations for the phenomena that were reported by the witnesses. Thus, it remains an unsolved mystery till this day and may even be more active with ghosts than its rival, Eastern State Penitentiary that also has a dark and violent past.