The strange but true story of Fearplex at Pomona.
Today a Haunted tour takes place at the FearPlex, and if you want to learn about some of the real horrid and horrific crimes of the past in the Inland Empire this is the place to do it. What you are about to read is real, it is true, and to most of the public it is unknown. Get ready for an assault on the senses.
In 1915 the California Legislature called for a comprehensive study of the problem of feeble mindedness or the crazies that lived amongst the general population. As a result of this study, the Legislature recognized the need for an institution in Southern California and approved $250,000 on July 17, 1917, for the Pacific Colony. The original site was in Walnut. The area now known as Spadra located in the hills just to the east of the old General Dynamics plant on Mission.
On March 20, 1921, the first patients were admitted to Pacific Colony with an expected capacity of 50 patients. However, it soon became evident that the site was inappropriate (lack of water, limited access) and the facility closed its doors on January 23, 1923. It took another four years until the new Pacific Colony opened at its location in Pomona (Spadra and welcomed its first 27 residents, or inmates, as they were most often referred to.
In 1920 director Patrick Haggard, deemed a second, more remote location for inmates considered "potentially violent towards themselves or others" was needed. He opened Pomona's California Colony on the current site of the Fairplex in the Winter of 1920. This facility handled the criminally insane and was originally designed as a measure of restraint and isolation from the rest of society.
However the CRIPA, Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, investigated the asylum in early 1921 and reports were filed with the State of California about inappropriate care, accidents, unexplained deaths of inmates and staff members, and inefficient medication use.
The most horrifying incident in recent years occurred on May 4, 1920, when an inmate died from multiple blunt force trauma after being stomped repeatedly in his bedroom at California Colony. There were two suspects in the investigation-- the victim's roommate and a facility Psychiatric Technician. Although there was evidence pointing to both suspects, the investigator concluded that the roommate had committed the crime, but was too mentally impaired to face any charges.
An internal investigation confirmed abuse after concluding that a staff person had punitively tied the hands of an inmate behind his back on two separate occasions and bound her mouth. One of these times, the staff person had placed a chair on top of her and sat on the chair while she lay on the floor with her hands bound.
It is difficult to determine the exact number of choking incidents leading to inmate and staff member death due to the facilities inconsistent methodology for reporting and categorizing these often serious events. Sometimes choking incidents are categorized as injuries, and at other times they are categorized as endangering health and safety. This ambiguity creates a risk that significant instances of choking will not be recognized as such and investigated properly. Staff often do not report accidental deaths and other significant events in a timely manner.
The final straw came when a mass murderer committed another Massacre in December 1921 at the facility. Mark A. Mangler was an inmate diagnosed as Criminally Insane after the murder of 17 co-workers at a Riverside shoe manufacturing plant. He was sent to the California Colony for restraint and seclusion to protect society. Just a month after his residency at the California Colony, on May 16th he and other inmates went on a killing spree. Using a show of strength the inmates attacked the staff with everything from surgical knives and medical instruments to wrapped up bed sheets used as methods of strangulation. In all 23 staff members and 4 inmates were killed that evening and there were 45 inmates reported as missing and were assumed to have escaped that very evening. Mr. Mangler was never found.
This Mass murderer makes today's Splashers movies tame in comparison. It was reported by local authorities that many of the bodies were in such terrible conditions that the exact nature of their deaths could never be released.
After the incident the complex was almost immediately shut down permanently and boarded up. For a few months the site sat in abandonment.
In 1922, the L. A. County Fairgrounds was Born on the Site. The City of Pomona agreed to purchase the 43-acre complex field from the Ricardo Vejer estate for use as a fairground. Research revealed that the name "Los Angeles County Fair" was not registered. Ground was broken and access roads were built. A half-mile race track and a grandstand seating 4,000 were constructed.
During some underground earthquake checks in 2006, construction workers discovered, after 80 years a major discovery was made by construction workers in 2006 of boarded up tunnels that led to a still intact portion of the old California Colony. What they found is now a part of today's Halloween Fearplex festivities.
Flash forward to today's Halloween Fearplex
Today you can take a tour starting at the vault and leading to the asylum and explore the depths of hell in which patients were brutally tortured and visit the actual padded cells, operating rooms, hospital inmate rooms and bathing areas where high pressure hoses were used to spray inmates as a form of punishment. Discover for yourself the fear that remains trapped inside these areas or drive yourself INSANE trying to figure out the mystery of Mangler's Haunted Asylum.
You will visit the haunted manor residence and roam the 25 rooms that house the insanity. Discover the secret chambers and passages, a morgue, and the evil undead that are everywhere. Warning: Very frightening and intense.
You will soon feel the presence of the now deceased Mr Lanterman who dies in 1981. Since running the Pacific Colony and making the Developmental Center his extensive residence, it is said his ghost still lives seeking more souls to punish. It is also said that many who took the 2006 Halloween tour that they could feel the souls of Mr Lanterman and hundreds of wrongly killed and tortured Inmates of the old Spadra.