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Halloween 2007

Home | Past Halloweens | Props


The Belford Asylum


A light fog hovered just above the ground as the silhouettes of several men meandered cautiously through the small cemetery toward the little single story residence occupied by the asylum’s groundskeeper.  These eerie shadows roaming around the grounds were actually patients from the Belford Asylum whom just moments before had escaped captivity, killing most of the hospital staff that impeded their freedom.  As they neared the home they were met by the groundskeeper who, fearing the worst, attempted to corral these gowned patients and await additional help from the staff that would never come.  He succeeded for a few moments with the less violent patients until an averaged size balding man dressed in a hospital gown covered in blood and with several stitches on his head grabbed him by the neck.  Soon the others assisted and restrained the groundskeeper.  With sharp implements taken from within the asylum they proceeded to slash and stab the groundskeeper repeatedly until he fell limp and lifeless at the feet of the escapees.  The gown clad men now turned their attention to the remaining occupants of the residence, and to their escape.  They entered the house finding the groundskeeper’s family where they commenced to torture and kill everyone.  At the completion of their brutal spree, the group exited the home by the way of the rear door and wandered off into the fog.


The Belford Asylum was established in 1871 for the care and treatment of mentally fatigued civil war veterans.  Subsidized by the US Government the asylum treated and cared for these veterans who had no other place to go.  As the years passed, the asylum took in other mentally unstable individuals and cared for them as well.  The once sprawling facility housed as many as 1000 patients during its prime of the early to mid 30’s but like the rest of the country, the depression caused the asylum to make cuts and eventually resulted in a closing of the facility in 1939.  With the onset of the war in December of 1941, the asylum was once again called upon by the government to care for their patients – only this time the so called patients would lack identity and would not require mental rehabilitation.  It was during this time that the Belford Asylum took on a dark and disturbing secret – one that would eventually create the chaos and brutal killing spree of October 31, 1947.


During the early 40’s the asylum staffed by military doctors, nurses, scientists and other administration staff, became a top secret testing facility for the government.  The close proximity to the naval weapons base and the Belford CNJ rail station made the asylum an ideal location for the government.  Patients were brought in on secret government trains that would arrive late at night while others arrived under heavy military guard.  All were terminally ill volunteers and other assorted derelicts forgotten by society.  Some of the patients held at the asylum were criminally insane or violent criminals serving life sentences that were transferred from a variety of federal penitentiaries.  All patients admitted to the asylum regardless of origin were anonymous to the staff and administration and assigned only a hospital gown and a four digit patient number at the time of admission.  All personal belongings were confiscated prior to arrival and staff was instructed to not pose personal questions of the patients while confined.  The violent prisoners were incarcerated in a special wing where they could be controlled and guarded by military personnel while other patients were held in the remainder of the facility’s three wings. 


The secretive testing conducted at the asylum consisted of subjecting test patients to an assortment of chemicals and drugs developed by the staff.  Hallucinogenic and other mind altering drugs along with chemical warfare agents and trial antidotes were tested and evaluated at the facility.  The asylum staff also experimented in the development of biological chemicals; however these substances were never tested on the actual patients because it was feared that the spread of any virus could result in the annihilation of all of the test subjects available at the time.  All test patients were closely evaluated and treated as needed.  As the patients were subjected to a given substance they were evaluated and tested.  Then after the evaluation period were given various antidotes to also be evaluated.  Some substances had no effect on the test subjects while others had lasting effects or even caused death.  Those who perished as part of the experimental process were given a through autopsy by the asylum staff and later interred on the grounds in the small asylum cemetery with a simple slate gray tombstone bearing only their gender and their four digit number.  The more violent patients were tested with drugs used to reverse their aggressive tendencies while the docile patients were subjected to drugs designed to instill rage and violence.  What the scientists and doctors at the asylum were trying to develop was a cache of drugs and chemicals that could be used against the country’s enemies. 


Another disturbing testing procedure being conducted at the asylum was the experimentation with brain surgery to alter thinking and response.  While this practice was only limited to a few cases, it should be noted that the test cases did not show any promising effects and up until the night of the calamity, only one test patient survived.


On the night of October 31, 1947, patient number 1023 who was detained in the prisoners wing, escaped from confinement when the room door was left ajar and not properly secured by the day shift staff.  Number 1023 then proceeded to release several other violent inmates who began to kill each staff member they came across on their way to freedom. 


As the inmates attempted to flee the grounds, they were met by the groundskeeper who was disposed of by the inmates.  They then moved onto the family of the groundskeeper in their last act of mayhem.


Police found several of the inmates wandering the streets later that night and returned them to the asylum only to find the lifeless bodies of much of the staff and the groundskeeper and his family.  The remaining inmates were located and all were incarcerated for the murders.  The charges against the inmates were later dropped after a psychiatric evaluation.  The guilty inmates were then sent to different institutions.


Today, all that remains of the old Belford Asylum is the small cemetery and a boarded up residence.  Much of the land has been sold and developed around the tiny cemetery that has been kept up by the local residents out of respect for the deceased.  It is said that every year on the anniversary of the brutal slayings that occurred in 1947, a figure can be seen crying over one of the graves and screams can be heard from within the boarded up home.  It has also been said by some that many of the experimental patients that have suffered while in care at the institution wander the grounds on that same night. 

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