An “extreme haunted attraction” in Tennessee is being investigated following accusations that participants endured physical and emotional distress, according to officials.
The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office sent a letter to Russ McKamey, owner and founder of McKamey Manor in Summertown, according to WKRN.
The letter obtained by WSMV and The Tennessean starts out by saying, “I am writing to express serious concerns about McKamey Manor, the ‘extreme haunted attraction’ you operate in Summertown, Tennessee.”
Some participants have described being physically harmed during their hours-long “tour” through the attraction.
“I was waterboarded, I was Tased, I was whipped. I still have scars of everything they did to me. I was repeatedly hit in my face, over and over and over again. Like, open-handed, as hard as a man could hit a woman in her face,” Laura Hertz Brotherton told the Nashville Scene in 2018.
The letter from the attorney general says a promotional video for McKamey Manor “depicts some of the horrors visitors are subjected to, which includes getting dragged via heavy chains or locked into confined spaces while water pours in.”
Russ McKamey has previously spoken out denying allegations against McKamey Manor.
“They say (McKamey Manor) tortures people…give me a break,” Russ McKamey wrote in a Facebook post in October.
McClatchy News reached out to Russ McKamey on Nov. 5, but did not immediately hear back.
In response to Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti’s post about the letter on Twitter, now rebranded as X, McKamey posted, “haters gonna hate.”
McKamey Manor moved to Tennessee from California in 2017, due to its “San Diego operation being shut down due to public outcry,” according to the letter.
The attraction was recently featured in a Hulu documentary called “Monster Inside: America’s Most Extreme Haunted House.” The documentary shared experiences from former workers and participants of the attraction.
One of the focuses of the letter from the AG’s office is the “lengthy waiver” participants are required to sign.
“Former participants describe the adrenaline and pressure they felt when reviewing the waiver at the start of the tour. One interviewee from the Hulu documentary stated, ‘I had too much excitement going through my veins at the time. If [the waiver] would have said that a man is going to come out of the woods and murder you during this event, I would’ve signed it,’” the letter from the AG’s office said.
The letter says, “we are concerned by recent reports regarding McKamey Manor and its practices.” Russ McKamey is accused of saying that the attraction is “known for no quitting and no safe wording.”
“You have someone tied up and bound and gagged and they give the safe word.. If you don’t release them at that point then you are potentially looking at kidnapping for having them confined like that against their will,” District Attorney Brent Cooper told WKRN in 2019.
Over 191,000 people have signed a Change.org petition started in 2019 to get the haunted attraction shut down.
“Nobody’s ever been injured, ever. Nobody’s ever had any lawsuits, ever. I mean, there was a heart attack once, but that person’s OK now,” McKamey told the Nashville Scene in 2018. “People can get bumps, bruises, sprains and cuts. But you can die at Disneyland, too.”
The letter from the AG’s office says there is a $20,000 prize offered to anyone who can complete the tour. But, when asked if anyone has ever completed it, McKamey is quoted saying, “Of course not, and they never will! Because it’s so mentally and physically challenging. But it will be the most exciting thing you’ve ever done.”
Officials are asking McKamey for documents and information to answer questions regarding business practices of McKamey Manor and whether those practices violate consumer protection laws.
Summertown is roughly 70 miles south of Nashville.