All the pounding and sawing inside the historic jail in Globe over the month of August has raised questions about the possibility of sinister happenings in these parts. Tales of crazed zombies desperately scratching at windows and the sounds of unearthly moans emanating from the ghostly throats of long-gone prisoners have caused concern among the local folks, and they are demanding answers.
Since Sept. 28, citizens have taken to lining up in front of the historic jail house on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at sun-down so they can see the goings-on for themselves. This is expected to continue through the weekends in the month of October and end with a special showing for kids on Halloween night. Trouble is, the more people that are allowed in, the more screams and maniacal laughter are heard by those on the outside.
This is where the lawmen come in. . . But what or who are they shooting if all of the criminals inside are already dead? And, what was the purpose of all of the building last month? Was it to keep something evil in or to keep the law-abiding sort out? These are questions for which this intrepid newswoman is determined to find the answers.
How It All Began
The most recent trouble started when a couple of gunslingers arrived on Broad Street in 2017, the year of our Lord, to inquire into a local saloon that was for sale. Though they didn’t make the purchase, the cowboys lingered, even going so far as to call up a couple of their buddies to take a look at the Downtown area and its Haunted Jail.
Built in 1910 and open for 70 years, the jail is comprised of three levels of concrete and steel “tanks” designed to hold seven cells that, in turn, housed four inmates a piece. Tales are still told of the men held there – sometimes for many years – and their misery is evident in the words etched into the concrete walls of the cells. One famous case that was never solved was the shooting of an inmate accused of murdering two young girls in 1910. Although the jail was thought to be impenetrable, the man was shot and killed while he was sleeping in the early morning hours by a gun deployed from outside the jail.
After visits with Chris Swinney, a stuntman who lives in Globe, some investors and with local Mayor Al Gameros and Linda Odonetto in the present day, two of the gunslingers connected to AZ Productions LLC decided to make an investment in the community.
Rick (Hutch) Hutchinson, George Nelson, Mike Lepore and Ami Bhow are the four members of AZ Productions LLC. Hutch and Nelson are two of the three Great Western Gunfighters, so they called their compadre, Sid Kramer (stage name: Matt Halloway), to join them on the venture in Globe.
“Globe has the history and the atmosphere to pull off an event like the Haunted Jail and be successful,” Nelson said. “This is not a store-bought project. We design it and implement it.”
All three men have found ways to work together in one capacity or another since 1986 when they formed the Great Western Gunfighters. Kramer, who worked in several different capacities at Disney, asked his friends, who worked at the Spaghetti Station, if they would like to be gunfighters. Their gunfighter/stunt show won competitions for five years at the Grand Prix. Nelson and Kramer also worked together at the Rawhide in Scottsdale and were the creators of DoomTown, which ran from 1999 to 2005, when Rawhide was moved to a new location.
Although all of the men have other “day” jobs, their combined theater and movie backgrounds lend themselves to creating this smaller themed venue and, if fortune smiles on the event, larger, more permanent themed events in the future.
The project came together very quickly. In fact, Odonetto said the mayor received a call from AZ Productions in July, and by August, work was started.
Kramer said people asked him if it could be built in 30 days, and he said, “Yeah. One, we’re crazy, and two, we’ve done it before.”
The initial plan was to hold the Haunted Jail event inside the historical jail house, but fire codes required a fire suppression system be installed. After the investors and city officials met at the physical location, it was decided the jail would be the portal with the bulk of the haunt outside in the alley and behind the building.
City officials, including Fire Marshal Joe Bracamonte, were on site to ensure safety and code standards were met.
“They’ve made improvements to the jail and the Center for the Arts as far as outdoor electrical is concerned, at their own expense,” Odonetto said.
Nelson, as a licensed general contractor, Kramer, with his extensive experience in building, creating and special effects, and Swinney went to work with other experienced builders to construct a mausoleum, a stage, an electric chair (Swinney) and a scaffold, among many other pa
For those who wonder if the Haunted Jail is just a little too scary, Kramer said the event is considered a “boo house” and features vignettes designed to make people scream. It is not, however, heavy on the gore.
The tours are available Thursday – Saturday from Sept. 28 to Oct. 31. Tickets are $16.
Plus there will be a Halloween Family Fright Night on Oct. 31, 4-6 p.m.
This is described as a kid-friendly haunt. People are encouraged to bring their cameras because friendly ghouls and zombies will be out on the front walkway to pose and take pictures with children and adults. Children 10 and under are free with a paid adult. All children must be accompanied by an adult. The normal Haunt will resume at 6 and end at 10 p.m. on Halloween night.
Aimee Staten has worn several hats over the last few years, but she recently put on one of her more familiar caps after four years of working in nonprofits: That of a journalist. She has 14 years of experience in the news business as a reporter with eight of those years as the managing editor of the Eastern Arizona Courier.