Crime Museum offers Halloween frights

WASHINGTON – The Crime Museum in D.C. is known for attracting crime enthusiasts, but through the month of October it has drawn visitors looking for a haunting experience.

The museum, which typically examines the history of criminology and penology in the United States, has transformed into a haunted house that promises scares in addition to some history.

The “Fright at the Museum: Dead Man Walking” experience kicked off Oct. 18 and tickets are available through Halloween night, according to its website.

Chief Operating Officer of the Crime Museum Janine Vaccarello says she came up with the idea to “spookify” the museum around Halloween several years ago. This year is the fifth annual haunted house at the museum.

“It’s literally all about the spooks and scares,” Vaccarello says.

The journey takes visitors through many of the museum’s crime and punishment exhibits, which are decorated with cobwebs and black lights. Ghouls yielding knives and chain saws jump out at the unsuspecting to a haunting soundtrack.

The intention of the design is to build on fears, Vaccarello says.

“A lot of people are afraid of clowns, so we have a clown room. A lot of people don’t like china dolls, they’re creeped out by those, so we have a china doll room,” Vaccarello says.

Also, there’s a snake a room and a graveyard scene. To conclude the haunting experience, visitors have to crawl through a hole in a jail cell wall to escape a masked ghoul with a chilling shrill.

Most the museum’s staff is involved in the haunted house in some way, Vaccarello says. Many watch the visitors in the security camera footage, she says.

“In the snake area you see even the grown big men curl up against the wall. It’s pretty funny,” Vaccarello says.

Anyone expecting Bonnie and Clyde to make an appearance in the haunted house will be disappointed.

“One of our goals is not to glorify the crime itself so we don’t have any recreations of criminals,” Vaccarello says.

The house opens Halloween night at 7 p.m. For more information and information on buying tickets visit the Crime Museum website.

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