October means spooky season is in full gear. For any who are looking for something to put your hairs on end, I recommend looking into some of the hauntings in Las Cruces, NM. I had the honor of touring the haunted courthouse and jail with Southwest Expeditions’ owner David Crider.
For this tour a friend and I met Crider in the courthouse parking lot. From there he led us into the building and through a long dark corridor lined with some historical photos from the courthouse and around town. Thankfully, he switched on some lights; needless to say, the spooky factor was already kicking in.
Our tour was a bit more informal, but he took some time to tell us some history about the courthouse and some of its inhabitants. According to Crider, there are seven repeat figures you may encounter within the establishment. He detailed: two chatty ladies who roam the halls; two young girls (one who likes to play); a stoic judge; a grumpy shadow man; a mean, irate and terrifying man; and, of course, a basement dweller.
After conversing in his office for a while, he took us up the dusty stairs and onto the second floor. It should be known that it’s pitch black beyond his office. Once up there Crider led us into a bare office. The room has two windows, where you can often spot a man (identified by most as the judge) staring out the window. There have been various sightings of him at the window from multiple accounts. He is also at times seen smoking what appears to be a cigar on the balcony.
Crider tells us it is that same room used in the film “Confidential Informant” (2023) starring Mel Gibson and Kate Bosworth. So if you give it a watch, keep an eye out for anything familiar.
As we walked through the building, I could hear various creaks and all kinds of creepy sounds. David has a few cameras set up in case of any break-ins, but he mostly catches the shadow man making his appearances. The second floor also has a courtroom, filled with dust and squeaky chairs. In there we’re told the back doors are shut and spring-loaded, yet mysteriously creak open at times. The ceiling and floors are dilapidated: full of dips, holes, and exposed beams.
The whole place overall gave me the creeps. I couldn't bring myself to peep into neighboring rooms or hallways for fear of the shadow man making an appearance. It’s dark, and drafty in some areas, but hot in others. There’s no running water or air conditioning in the building, yet there’s plenty of hums, bumps, groans and breezes.
Dead Man Walking
I thought the second floor was bad, but we were led back downstairs and into the cell blocks. Here is where David and his crew have been spooking the place out in preparation for the "Dead Man Walking" tours for this month. We got an exclusive peek at some of the things he has planned. In the jail there are prop cell bars left over from previous films, and you’ll also find what David calls “Hollywood blood” in various spots throughout the jail.
It's down here where the shadow man resides most often. He’s been heard slamming cell doors, calling out names, and seen standing at the end of halls. He’s described as black entity without any discernable features. He seems to enjoy messing with the more paranormally sensitive. The cells are very old-school; blue bars, crowded, rusty, and caked in dust and dirt. After trying to close a door one-handed, I’m impressed with the shadow man’s efforts to get attention as they weigh quite a bit.
Now, if you asked me to lead you down there, we would certainly get lost. Crider led us through so many corridors and turns, doorways, cellblocks, and rooms— without any light of his own to guide him might I add. He seems to know the place like the back of his hand, and I was immensely grateful for his presence as we would’ve been lost in the dark with the ghosts all alone.
Unfortunately (but thankfully), we didn’t run into any of the courthouse tenants while we were there. Though there was one instance where I got chills and goosebumps. It was sudden, stomach-turning, eerie feeling that made my skin crawl and shiver. Now I’m not typically one for the paranormal, but even I can admit to the feeling of something being present. Aside from that lone instance, our tour went without a hitch.
We were guided through the women’s section, and death row, which was particularly unnerving. Crider spoke of overcrowding and riots which led to the ultimate closure of the courthouse and jail. There are stories from guards, cooks, clerks and other staff about instances of detainees feeling touches, hearing whispers, seeing shadows and far more.
All in all, I recommend the experience for all the paranormally inclined. Even if you don't encounter anything out of the ordinary, the building itself if worth the trip as it's quite historical. Crider is well-educated on the building and its past, and he's more than happy to answer questions.
If you’re looking to book a similar experience, Southwest Expeditions does ghost tours year-round with a minimum of four people in your group. Tours are typically about two hours, but the company also offers an immersive paranormal investigation, complete with equipment for you to do your own ghost hunting.
Excitingly, Crider and his team have put together “Dead Man Walking” ghost tours for the month of October. You can book your tickets here but be quick as they only occur on select dates. The event entails guided tours within the haunted jail and courthouse, but with a much more horrifying twist. Be ready to plunge into a night of terror as you roam the haunted halls, discover dark secrets, and keep a look out for any other occupants.