Rhenderelli Asylum

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Rhenderelli Asylum
Rhenderelli circa 1915
Location New Prairie, Wisconsin
Care system Private
Funding Non-profit hospital
Beds 1,500
Founded 1929

Rhenderelli Asylum is a mental institution built on the northwest side of New Prairie during the town's early days.

Early Days

Purposely put on plot of land measuring some 5 miles wide, surrounded by tall fences that would prevent, or at least considerably slow down, anyone attempting to escape the asylum. The Asylum itself is named after Dr. Bruno Rhenderelli, one of New Prairie’s first official doctors. Rhenderelli treated all the residents of New Prairie since it’s start in the early part of the 20th century. As the city grew, his demand became higher and more stressful. Soon, Rhenderelli needed more to aid him. Hiring on 4 hands to help him out, he slowly formed the first hospital located downtown New Prairie in 1924.

Rhenderelli and the Dark Killer

Over the course of the next few years, Rhenderelli and his associates started getting calls of help from citizens claiming to have seen or been visited by a man in black. The cases were strange and the victims of the so-called “Dark Man” were simply deemed restless and stressed. Sleep was prescribed and usually no more was heard from them.

It wasn’t until 1929 that Mayor Nucci Balfone was found bleeding outside the town’s church on a Sunday morning. Balfone later told Rhenderelli that a man “dressed entirely in black” came to his house late at night, brutally murdered his wife and children, and proceeded to kill him until he turned like hearing something in the distance. The bodies of Balfone's family were in fact found in his house, but many doubted his story of a “Dark Killer” as he called him, and felt that instead, Balfone had simply snapped due to the constant pressure of being mayor. It was then that Rhenderelli, afraid to admit that something MIGHT actually is going on around New Prairie, simply announced Balfone had snapped under pressure and decided to build a location to house him for further treatments.

Using the money he made from his visits to the town, plus state funding, Rhenderelli built the main house of the Asylum, which was finished in 1930. Rhenderelli himself lived on the top floor of the house, in a room set off and away from any other rooms, hidden behind a bookcase in his office. Balfone stayed at the Asylum for further examinations in Cell 17, however, he never strayed from the same story. Late one night in the summer of 1936, Rhenderelli was awoken by nurses and orderlies saying they had found Balfone's mangled body lying on his cot. Muddy footprints led into and out of his room, down the hall to the wall outside of Rhenderelli's office where they stopped. Following the footsteps leading into the Asylum, a few of the doctors/nurses found that they came from the backdoor of the building and out onto the lawn of the grounds.

The following morning, Rhenderelli personally set out to follow the tracks in the grass. As he did, he noticed that they occasionally vanished for a few feet and reappeared further along, as if the person had simply skipped that part of the land. Continuing to follow them, they led right to the huge cement wall surrounding the perimeter of the asylum, where one track appeared to be halfway through the wall as if the person simply walked through it. Confused about what he was seeing, Rhenderelli started back to the building only to, as he states, “come face to face with a man dressed in black, who abruptly tried to squeeze me to death with his hands.” Rhenderelli passed out in the process and was found some 2 days later by the nurses of his asylum.

Rhenderelli did nothing but rant about the man in black and his attempt to kill him for days on end. Eventually, his own people committed him to the very asylum he built, claiming he too had gone crazy. He also was put in Cell 17. A new doctor from Milwaukee came in and took charge of the Asylum. Rhenderelli remained quiet in his room, saying only that the Dark Killer would return to prove he wasn’t crazy until he died quietly in his room in 1968.

The Middle Years & Cell 17

The Asylum itself has housed many over the years and as well has been expanded upon numerous times. In 1955, a western wing was built that could house up to 200 more patients and included a new medical lab for tests. In 1974, an eastern wing was built, again adding 200 more rooms for patients and a morgue. In the summer of 1992, the asylum was struck by lightning and lost power for 3 days. When the lightning struck, it not only blew the power, but also hit an inmate looking out his barred window. The inmate awoke, ranting of the Dark Killer coming after him. His rants recalled the ancient stories that Rhenderelli and Balfone once told.

Rhenderelli from the air in 2001

Later it was found that he was in the exact room that both of them once stayed (and died) in, Cell 17. The inmate got more and more vicious and eventually broke free of his cell and caused havoc through the asylum. He escaped outdoors and was chased down by the security guards all the way to the cement barrier. As the guards reached the barrier, all claimed to have watched the inmate run straight through the wall without stopping. The particular inmate was never found again, though the remains of a tattered outfit he was last seen in, were found near the Martini Farm in the early part of 1997.

The Teen Massacres of 1995

In late 1995, after the second set of Teen Killings, Amanda Mendel was committed as the mastermind behind said killings. Her cell was Cell 17. She’s still there today, mumbling to herself and drawings pictures about the same thing that it’s three previous occupants did: the Dark Killer.

Notable Patients

Besides being the house of many of New Prairie’s crazier residents, Rhenderelli Asylum also doubles as the town’s leading help with mental and physical disorders. Vincenzo Sporteino meets with Dr. Louis Sonei for help with grief over his wife’s death and feelings of hatred towards his daughter. Leon Portman visit’s the same doctor as well. Prudence Tracey visit’s the hospital for help with her asthma. Dr. Carol Richie treated Sarah Cole and Amanda Mendel, as well as those patients who have come in contact with the Dark Killer. And in 2027, Jack Rupert even checked himself in for a few months until claiming he was better and checked out, only to be found dead later that evening in his apartment.

Doctors & Other Employees