Is the Hanging Jail in DeRidder really haunted?

Is the Hanging Jail in DeRidder really haunted? An inside look.
Published: Oct. 19, 2013 at 2:10 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 19, 2013 at 1:02 PM CDT
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DERIDDER, LA (KPLC) - In 1928, the former DeRidder jail earned its nickname, the Hanging Jail, when two prisoners were hung for the slaying of a DeRidder taxi cab driver.

Some claim the jail is haunted, even prompting an episode on the Travel Channel. But locals like Gary Crowe aren't sure.

KPLC's Erica Bivens got a tour of the jail. Some of it was shot in the dark since the lights were not working.

Built in 1914, the former DeRidder jail still stands in its place.

"It was originally called a collegiate gothic design. Later, they shortened it to just the gothic jail," said Crowe, Beauregard Parish Police Jury's Vice President.

But Crowe said a nickname took over in the 50s, "when a man name Sam Pruitt wrote a song about the two people that were hung in the jail and the name of the song was the 'Hanging Jail,' now it's commonly called around the area the 'Hanging Jail.' "

The hanging took place on the third floor.

"They built a floor across the top of this rail and trap door was in the center where the gallows were built right here," explained Crowe.

Although the nickname has hung around, the jail was stately for its time.

"It was the first jail built in the United States that every cell had a window and each cell had its own bathroom facilities and in 1914, very few residences had running water," explained Crowe.

The jail also features a spiral staircase and underground tunnel that allowed prisoners to get to the courthouse next door, without being seen.

But the jail was not about comfort.

"They got a blanket and they slept on that with a blanket," said Crowe, as he stood next to a black, steel bunk.

Crowe has been around the jail for much of his life, even marrying his wife there on Friday the 13.

But the jail was closed in 1984 and an eerie photo has sparked the question of whether or not the jail is haunted.

"They didn't know when they took the picture but when it was developed, it looked like a man sitting on the front porch smoking a pipe. There was a jailer here who did sit on the front porch and smoke a pipe but I don't think his ghost would be here. He didn't die here," said Crowe.

Crowe said that jailer was his father.

And while many hope the Hanging Jail will reopen, for now it remains closed to the public.

The jail has been updated slightly over the years. It's also part of the "Myth and Legends Byway."

Crowe said parish tourism officials are also looking for grants to allow them to at least reopen the first floor to the public.

Additional information on the jail can be found here:

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