Ghostly Apparitions Terrified Inmates at San Marins County Jail

Ghostly Apparitions Terrified Inmates at San Marins County Jail

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  1. From 1891 to 1900, terrifying ghostly apparitions and the clinkity clanks of chains excited inmates and jail staff alike at the San Marin County Jail. The jail was located in the basement of Marin County’s courthouse, in the city of San Rafael, California, just north of San Francisco.

    "Butchy" Baker

    On November 19, 1891, wasted, haggard, and prematurely greyed confessed murderer “Butchy” Baker was sent to Folsom prison to serve a life sentence for the murder of a fellow convict in San Quentin, after his memorable stay inside San Marin County Jail’s tank cell. While in the cell, “Butchy” received nocturnal visits from the suicide victim Juan Argo’s ghost. Convict Argo had previously hung himself inside the same tank cell that “Butchy” was locked in, after Argo’s attempted escape from jail had been thwarted by prison guards.

    Inside the cell, “Butchy" heard the steady echo of footsteps pace up and down the corridor in the darkness just outside his cell door, until the sound of footsteps eventually made its way inside the cell. Footsteps were followed by the sound of Juan Argo’s suicide by hanging. The Fort Worth Gazette reported:

    While Baker was still wondering, in his chaotic stupor of horror, what could account for the awful experience he was undergoing, there came the sound of a body dropping and suddenly checked before reaching the floor, the quick, harsh clangor of chains smote together, a strangled and horrible cry, and then the beating of a swaying body against the cell door from the inside.

    “Butchy” couldn’t bear the stress of having Argo’s ghost for his cell-mate, so he confessed to the murder as quickly as possible to escape Argo’s wrath. Unfortunately, he didn’t receive the relief he hoped for. According to Folsom prison physicians, "Butchy” continued to believe that suicide convict Juan Argo haunted him.

    Lee Doon

    Sometime after “Butchy” went to Folsom prison, murderer Lee Doon was sentenced to hang. He too was incarcerated at San Marin county’s prison. At first, Doon spurned the idea of facing death. That is until he began to receive nightly cell visits from Argo’s ghost. Each night an apparition would seat itself next to Doon on his cell bunk and hold silent vigil until daybreak. The visitations so disturbed Doon that he welcomed death when the day for his hanging arrived.

    Emilio Morales

    In1896, Burglar Emilio Morales was also driven to the brink of insanity after spending time in Argo cell. As Morales awaited trial, he threatened to commit suicide unless authorities removed him from the haunted prison cell.

    Annie Kehoe

    Argo’s ghost liked women too. In 1897, Annie Kehoe was incarcerated inside the tank cell where Juan Argo killed himself. Kehoe reported that she saw the apparition of a man in bulky dark clothes wearing a black slouch hat who continually moaned. Kehoe dragged her bedding into an adjoining cell to escape the phenomena, but it followed her there. The next day, she reported the visitation to authorities who said her story corroborated descriptions of the ghost made by others.

    Reports of Juan Argo’s ghostly visits suddenly stopped after 1900. Eventually the jail was leveled due to urban development and was replaced by government offices. Did Argo’s ghost finally find eternal peace or move on to another place? Or, do the new occupants of the location of Juan Argo’s tank cell experience paranormal phenomena? Time has yet to tell.

    Did You Know:

    The term “curandero” is Spanish for a person who cures spiritual or physical ailments, i.e. a shaman. In America and throughout the southwest, it was not uncommon for people to seek out the services of a “curandero” to cure colds, broken bones or even the occasional “Ojo” or evil eye. It is believed that if the evil eye goes untreated, sickness and even death may follow.

    Your paranormal quick quiz:

    What was the first location investigated by the cast of Ghost Adventurers?

    1. Rhyolite, Nevada
    2. Goldfield, Nevada
    3. Las Vegas, Nevada

    Find the answer in the next upcoming article on the paranormal.

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