Ghost Adventures Wiki

Old Idaho Penitentiary is the Season 1 finale of Ghost Adventures. The Ghost Adventures Crew heads to Boise to investigate the Old Idaho Penitentiary. The prison once housed killers destined for the gallows, and even though the criminals may be gone, their spirits remain locked behind the high stone walls of the prison. The most infamous, notorious, ill-temper and troublemaking inmate confined at this prison was Raymond Allen Snowden. He went to a bar where he found his victim, Cora Dean. Dean's body was found mutilated, stabbed 35 times with a 2 inch pocket knife and her spinal cord severed. When Snowden was being hanged, they put the noose around his neck and a hood over his head, then his body dropped through the trap door below and should've been killed instantly. But for Snowden, something went drastically wrong. It took between 15-16 minutes to be strangled to death.


Zak & Co. return to the U.S. and arrive at Boise, Idaho, to investigate a 130-year old abandoned brick penitentiary. Over 13,000 convicts called this place hell from its beginnings as a frontier prison until the riots of the 1970's, for it was built to reform or execute the dredges of society. Of the 11 state executions in the state of Idaho's history, ten were carried out here. An eyewitnesses heard sounds of ghostly plumbing in the penitentiary, and when she reached into a cell to grab a picture of a past inmate in there, she felt ghostly fingers going through her hair. Another woman eyewitness was pushed, then heard whispering and doors banging. These and other occurrences were so intense that they even made the local news. Local reporter Dan Hamilton had his own experience in a courtyard while accompanied by a news crew; a giant light was seen above a patch of flowers, and around that time he felt the pressure of a pair of hands bearing down on the sides of his cranium. A ghost hunter took a picture of him in this position and caught another large orb hovering above him.

The spirits in the penitentiary were evil in life and are evil in death. Local historian and tour guide Ellen leads Zak & Co. into the grounds, explaining that most of the buildings were constructed by the inmates themselves as a form of hard labor. One area of the prison is an area of solitary confinement cells called "Siberia", small and completely barren because inmates would make weapons out of anything and everything otherwise, and these conditions of course drove inmates to insanity. When a modern-day patron looked into one of these cells through its small window door, she saw a shadow figure stand up in a corner, and she ran out of the building screaming. Around the corner was a confinement area called "the hole" that made inmates wish for the solitary nonetheless; these larger cells would have 6 to 8 men stuffed into them at a time.

Ellen leads Zak to the prison showers, where there was one inmate that was gang-raped to death, and then to a structure called "Five House", which was the last stop for inmates condemned to death. The death here, as might be expected, leaves the building rife with paranormal activity; as eyewitness Shawn Bell explains, after he and others shut the room doors for the night after ensuring nobody is inside, the next day the doors were unlocked from the inside. Other doors controlled by breaker box switches would be mysteriously toggled overnight. Prison inmates would stay in their cells 23 out of 24 hours a day, and the one hour a day they were allotted out of their cells they would have access only to a shower room and an exercise yard.

The main story that drew Zak & Co. to Idaho State Penitentiary was that of Idaho's "Jack the Ripper". On October 18, 1857, Raymond Allen Snowden was hung in the gallows of Five House. Snowden had been out at a local bar named Club Savvy's where he met his victim, Cora Dean, and her body was later found mutilated, stabbed 35 times, and had her spinal cord severed, with the weapon involved being Snowden's 2.5-inch pocketknife which had been discovered at a cigar store named Hannifin's Cigar Store. The bar itself has some paranormal activity, apparently, including a shadow person, and some activity has transpired at the cigar store as well, including boot footstep sounds.

Ellen shows Zak the cell in Five House where Snowden spent his last days, where he would sleep next to the room where the noose that would eventually end his life dangled. Come execution day, they didn't get to the point where he could have any final words to day, and went through with the procedure to drop him and hang him while a group of eager onlookers watched from an observation room. Ideally, the neck breaks instantly, but in Snowden's hanging, something went horrifically wrong, and he spent 15-16 minutes strangling to death. Ellen herself had an experience with Snowden, being in Five House one day and the front doors slamming shut in the distance.

Ellen leads Zak to the courtyard where public executions by hanging would transpire to end the lives of six inmates, and explains that one of the unusual side effects of this procedure is that it would be an event of the townspeople to climb up on the neighboring hills and watch the executions from afar, including parents and children. Zak & Co. decide to climb up the foothills themselves to see what it was like, but come across local rattlesnakes along the way. Zak, randomly getting the idea to confront one of man's common fears, picks up one of these snakes by the tail; of course, he can't help but drop it and run away. After reaching the top of the top of the hill, they come down.


The lockdown begins on 7:15 PM, and Zak & Co. go out to set up their static night vision cameras. Come nighttime, Zak believes he hears some loud screams and laughter of some sort emanating from the rose garden, but when he runs towards the sound, he runs straight into guardrails, leading to some humor. They then go into one of the prison buildings and attempt to entice the spirits by placing Aaron in the prison shower. This seems to work; Aaron reports that a water bottle in his back pocket got pulled by some mysterious force, and it would turn out that just before this event transpired, the static night vision camera in the cell caught an unusually moving, distinctive shadow moving among Aaron's shadow. They decide to leave Aaron in the cell while the other two investigate elsewhere.

By 12:04 AM, they regroup and go to Siberia, and leave Nick there to investigate alone. Nick, during his EVP sweep, captures a garbled EVP that they figure to say "Hey say what?". After Nick leaves the hallway that one static night vision camera records, the camera captures three separate loud bangs several minutes apart that sound like prison doors slamming. Nick goes into the Hole to investigate, and claims to hear a knocking sound. Shortly afterward, his EVP device records a very loud and clear male voice saying something indecipherable.

By 1:54 AM, Zak attempts to commune with Raymond Snowden in Five House alone. As he sits in front of a closed cell, he reports feeling a cold sensation on his arm, and at that exact moment the infrared digital still camera takes its shot and shows an anomalous dark shape hovering right above/behind him. Zak goes into the area with the noose, and reports seeing a shadow briefly. By 3:00 AM, the three are at the rose garden where the original gallows were, and in response to Zak's provocation, he gets a headache, but they rule out one orb image they capture as dust.

By 4:29 AM, Zak & Co. perform an experimental procedure named ITC, or Instrumental Trans-Communication, which attempts to capture ghost pictures by pointing a DV camera at a television that is connected to the camera via its video and audio jacks, then recording the TV screen for 30 seconds, and playing it back frame-by-frame. They repeat this process several times, and eventually capture a clear image of a black human figure from the torso-up, which they believe to be Snowden himself.

With the lockdown ending at 6:12 AM, Zak & Co. waste no time in traveling back to Reno to meet again with Mark and Debbie Constantino and show them their evidence. Debbie deduces the clear male voice Nick caught to be two male voices saying "Not my life" and "I'm okay", and believes this to be intelligent paranormal activity. He shows Mark the image of the male image from the ITC, which he finds very impressive.


  • Other Phenomena: At the beginning of the lockdown, two openings in the cloudy sky resemble a pair of eyes.

  • Physical Contact: Aaron says that something tried to pull his water bottle.
  • Apparition: The static night vision camera in the shower cell captures a shadow figure moving toward Aaron.
  • EVPs: "hey, say what?", "not my life", "I'm okay"
  • Residual Noises: Prison doors slamming
  • Physical Contact: While Zak is in death row, he feels a cold sensation that moves up his arm.
  • Apparition: A digital photo taken by a camera mounted on a tripod shows a dark, shadowy mist form behind Zak sitting beside cell bars next to the site of an execution by hanging.
  • Apparition: Zak claims he saw a shadow move across the doorway while he was in the room with noose.
  • Physical Harm: While using provocation, Zak seems to start getting headaches.
  • Apparition/Other Phenomena: In an instrumental transcommunication (ITC), a black silhouette of a distorted head and upper torso appears on the screen of a television set next to the same execution site.

  • References

    • Marie Cuff - Eyewitness
    • Alicia May - Eyewitness
    • Dan Hamilton - News Reporter/Eyewitness
    • Ellen Haffner - Historian/Tour Guide
    • Shawn Bell - Employee/Eyewitness
    • Steve Dunn - Eyewitness
    • Bobby Guerrero - Eyewitness

  • Raymond Snowdon - Murderer

  • Notes

    • In a deleted scene from Ghost Adventures Season 1 DVD, Ellen explains about some significant deaths that took place in the new cell house, which is closed to the public:
      • Douglas Van Black, who set to be executed, escaped to the rafters wanting to commit suicide rather than be a "spectacle" for the towns people. When guards tried to bring a net in to catch him, he heard the ruckus and jumped to his death, dying 5 hours later. Prior to him dying, his lawyer showed up with a reprieve, meaning he would have not been executed after all.
      • An individual was found murdered after the 1971 riots, rolled up in a gym mat after being beaten with a pipe and stabbed by other inmates.
    • The Two Yard had the only double hanging in history.
    • The dining hall and chapel were destroyed during the 1973 riot.
    • George Hamilton was a prisoner, brought in for highway robbery. He was an architect who designed the dining hall. As a pardon for his wonderful design, he was granted a pardon to never come back to Idaho. The next day he was found dead in his hotel room, overdosing on drugs.
    Season 1 Episodes
    Bobby Mackey's Music WorldHoughton MansionMoundsville PenitentiaryRiddle HouseSloss FurnaceAbandoned NJ Psychiatric HospitalEdinburgh VaultsOld Idaho Penitentiary