Atascadero State Hospital

  • The Atascadero State Hospital (DSHA) was opened in 1954 as a state-run, self-contained forensic center designed to house inmates deemed "criminally insane" by the Superior Court, Board of Prison Terms, and/or the Department of Corrections. Throughout its history it has garnered a reputation for violence among inmates. On March 30, 2008, forty-four-year-old inmate Earl McKee strangled fellow inmate Lawrence Rael (37) to death with a knotted tow. McKee had originally been classified as a "mentally disordered offender" but was later charged as a "sexually violent predator" when he began making abusive threats towards other patients. An attack by a patient on May 28, 2014 left one patient dead and an employee severely injured.

    A few patients were transferred to Coalinga State Hospital while Atascadero underwent renovations. The court eventually mandated the institution reduce its us of restraints and medications, which made the facility into a significantly more dangerous working environment.

    Rumors have circulated about Atascadero State Hospital being haunted as a result of the homicides and violence. However, there is very little information about the paranormal activity.

    In Pop Culture

    In Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Sarah Connor is sent to “Pescadero State Hospital,” a mental hospital based heavily upon Atascadero State Hospital.

    Radio host Phil Hendrie’s fictional character, Herb Sewell, was a former patient at the hospital.

    The hospital is referred to in the film The Grifters as the place where Cole was sent after his mental breakdown.


Have a personal experience here? Tell us about it!

Have more information about this haunt? Send it to us here!

Have an image you want to submit? Upload it here!

Museum Hours

9:30–6:00, Monday Until 8:00

Museum Location

2270 S Real Camino Lake California

The Loquet Museum fuels a journey of discovery across time to enable
solutions for a brighter future rich in nature and culture.