Fascinating History Haunts Inside The Walls Of W.Va. Pen Steve Novotney May 16, 2015 27 It was hard core. The criminals, the conditions, and the administered punishments earned the West Virginia Penitentiary a nationwide reputation for standing as a brutal institution in the corrections system during its 12 decades of operation. Modeled after the castle-like prison in Joliet, Ill., this penitentiary was constructed on seven acres of land located in the middle of Moundsville and across Jefferson Avenue from the historic and mysterious Mound. Moundsville’s primary business district is walking distance away from this dungeon, and residents living along Washington Avenue, and 8th and 11th streets still stare at its tall walls. The former West Virginia Penitentiary can be seen from the recently-constructed overlook at Grand Vue Park. On the inside, the large prison yard is enclosed by those stone walls buried five feet deep and measuring five feet thick at the base and two-and-a-half feet at the top. Large turrets with guardhouses three stories atop them are in each corner, and prison labor was used during several construction phases. In 1929, state lawmakers approved an expansion because of overcrowding issues; at one time each 5×7 cell housed three prisoners each. When finished, the pen possessed 10 cell blocks. The expansion was possible because the state of West Virginia purchased a total of 10 acres for $3,000, and the tale about Moundsville choosing the Gothic-style slammer instead of the state university is not true. The facility was mostly self-sustaining in the early 1990s with operating carpentry, paint, and wagon shops, a brickyard, a coal mine, a hospital, a blacksmith, and a bakery. The worst of the worst offenders were sentenced to serve time in this stone prison, most of whom were convicted for multiple murders or for killing a priest or a wife or a child. Thieves, mobsters, bank robbers, and rapists were locked away on the south side, and the more feared were caged on the maximum-security north side of the facility. The inmates referred to the original portion of the prison as “The Alamo” because survival was determined by one’s level of defense. Tour takers can’t help but feel claustrophobic when entering North Hall because of the narrow hallway completely enclosed by steel chain-link fencing. Today’s tours promote this area as the “North Walk” because of the stabbings, the stranglings, and the rapes that were reported. Often the prisoners would hurl urine or vomit at the prison guards. North Hall was where the worst of the worst prisoners resided. Beneath the thick flooring of North Hall rests the “Sugar Shack,” once a recreational area located in the basement. There are no windows, and there is only one way in and one way out. The incarcerated played pool and ping-pong, and they painted portraits and landscapes on the walls. And they killed, beat, and raped each other, too. This area, according to facility manager Tom Stiles, has produced the majority of the reported paranormal activity in the prison. Stiles even reported his own personal experience. He says he was grabbed on the shoulder in the “Sugar Shack.” This was also the area where MTV wished to record a special program on the alleged hauntings, but the crew, Stiles reported, was tossed out once facility officials discovered they had painted “Moth Man” figures on several walls. This 630-inmate prison closed only 20 years ago, and during its 119-year history it incarcerated as many as 2,000 prisoners at one time. Charles Manson wrote a letter in 1983 to the reformatory’s warden asking to be transferred to the Moundsville jail. He promised not to cause trouble, but even without him uprisings took place, and inmates and guards were slaughtered. Riots and Escapes A pair of full-blown riots took place at the former penal institution with the first one occurring in March 1973, and the second, in January 1986. Prisoners held five hostages and set fire to the basement of the stockade during the first upheaval, but it was the second riot that attracted national attention. Twenty inmates, known as “The Avengers,” stormed guards and staff members in the cafeteria because of the shoddy and unhealthful conditions. At the end of the three-day incident, three prisoners had been killed and Gov. Arch Moore was forced to end a holiday vacation in Florida to negotiate with the offenders. In the end 16 hostages were released because Moore promised to deliver a new cafeteria, and when it was completed, it was the only area of the facility to offer heat and air-conditioning. The prisoners in North Hall were surrounded by fencing for most of their days. Despite what appears to be a trapping facility, prison breakouts did take place. The first escape involved 15 inmates in November 1979, and a state trooper was killed as the convicts reached the streets of the hosting municipality. Of the escapees, Ronald Turney Williams remained at large the longest until his arrest in New York City 18 months later. In April 1988, three inmates breached the prison with assistance from the outside. Tommie Mollohan, 46, Bobby Dean Stacy, 36 and David Williams, 29, each were serving life sentences without mercy for murder. Tracking dogs from Belmont County followed the scent until reaching the middle of a nearby parking lot. At that point, the trail ended. All three were returned shortly after they flew the coop. Just a few months later, in November, two murderers fled the fortress. Few details are available concerning how they managed to find their freedom, but both escapees, Freddie Rakes, 29, and Dickie Wimmer, 36, were soon captured. Both men were serving life prison sentences without chance for parole. The facility’s final breakout made national news in 1992 mainly because three killers walked away in broad daylight after manufacturing a 32-foot tunnel just under an unmanned guard tower on the east side of the pen. Tommie Lee Mollohan, 49, David Williams, 33, and Frederick Hamilton, 34, were discovered missing after 3 p.m. on Feb.20, nearly four years after Mollohan and Williams’ previous escape. A few pieces of outdated equipment were left behind in the dentist’s office when the penal institution closed in 1995. The digging was initiated inside a greenhouse constructed so prisoners could offer their visitors flowers. The inmates reportedly worked in shifts to dig the four-foot tall, illuminated tunnel that traveled under the wall until the escapees carved out a pathway 14 feet deep to Washington Avenue. Authorities discovered prison clothing and a 14-foot ladder made of pipe on the free side of the tall wall. The greenhouse was dismantled only a few days following the successful escape. Mollohan was the last one to be recaptured when he was found in a wooded area near Gilbert, W.Va., on March 12, 1992. Hamilton was recaptured in late February in Oklahoma, and Williams was also caught within Mountain State borders on March 6. The infirmary was located on the west side of the prison. Prison Life There were no secrets among the men inside the former West Virginia Penitentiary. The toilets lacked privacy walls, taking a shower was a community affair, and the medical and psychiatric wards operated in wide-open spaces. The bed platforms fit mattresses thinner than those on twin-bed frames, and many cell walls were decorated with an inmate’s artwork. Steel bars and chain-link fencing remains everywhere. The iron doors are heavy, and the facility’s jail-cell locking mechanism still is operational. The paint is peeling away from the walls in many areas, and the broad banks of windows are darkened and bare on the exterior. “No one who was jailed here will tell you it was a pleasant experience, especially not the prisoners that were held here toward the end,” Stiles said. “The condition of the prison was horrible, and that’s ultimately why the state Supreme Court ordered it to close in the late 1980s. “And prisons and privacy have never gone together in facilities like these, and that’s still true today,” he said. “The guards had to keep their eyes on them because they were criminals, and obviously they were unhappy to be in here. The tunnel they used to escape in 1992 wasn’t the first one. The other ones were just found by the guards before they were completed.” Nearly 100 men were put to death inside the walls of this fortress, most by hanging and nine by electrocution. Nearly 100 executions took place inside the walls of the West Virginia Penitentiary, mostly by hanging, and then nine convicts were put to death with “Old Sparky” in the electrocution-style of capital punishment, according to Stiles. One of the walls in the area that now houses the gift shop is covered with headshots of those receiving the ultimate punishment, and if their families did not request their remains, they were buried in unmarked graves in a nearby field along with the others who died while imprisoned. The public was allowed to witness the hangings near the north gate up until June 19, 1931. Frank Hyer was hanged for murdering his wife, but when the trap door opened and his full weight was placed on the noose, he was immediately decapitated. From that point, attendance for the hangings was by invitation only. It wasn’t until 1951 that electrocution was used, but 14 years later state legislators outlawed the punishment. “Old Sparky” is now located inside the gift shop and can be seen at the beginning of the tour. It is the “Psych Ward,” though, that consistently gives Stiles the creeps today. “Insanity wasn’t much of a defense during the life of this prison, so if someone with severe mental illness committed a serious crime, they were sent here instead of treatment hospitals like they are today,” he explained. “And some of the stories that took place in that large room are very scary. Paranormal activity has been reported inside the pen … and who might that be behind the bars on the second level? “There were also the prisoners who developed mental illness while on the inside because they weren’t handling the confinement very well, and they were held in that room, too,” Stiles said. “The baddest and the craziest, that’s who was put behind the bars in this place, and a lot of time the crimes they committed on the inside were far worse than the crimes they committed to get them thrown in here.” Most of the guard cages along the cell blocks feature cut holes through which the employees could aim their rifles, and when the prison was abandoned in 1995, a lot of medical equipment was left behind because the technology was extremely dated. The “Hole” was for solitary confinement when the wardens deemed it necessary, and policing among prisoners was popular, too. “If you got thrown in here, you must have done something very wrong to the outside world,” Stiles said. “This was not a nice place, and if you weren’t prepared for the environment, you found out about it very quickly from the other inmates. Charles Manson wanted to return to the area where he spent a few years of his life, but his request was denied. “There were 36 homicides that took place through the years, and those happened because those men stepped out of line against another inmate,” he continued. “Believe it or not, the convicts had their own code of conduct, and when someone broke the code, they paid for it, some with their lives.” Today It Is a Tourist Attraction These days tourists enter the lockup through the exact entrance as did the prisoners’ visitors. If an inmate had behaved, face-to-face meetings were granted, but if the convict managed to cause trouble, he was separated from family and friends by thick glass and steel walls. While that lean room still exists as it was when the stockade shuttered 30 years ago, the first sight for visitors these days is a large gift shop that sells memorabilia and apparel associated with the reported paranormal activity inside this correctional facility. A bevy of television specials have been filmed inside the penitentiary, and a trio of major movies – “The Night of the Hunter” in 1955; “Fools Parade” in 1971; and “Out of the Furnace” in 2013 – were shot inside, as well. According to the attraction’s website, many other television shows and documentaries were filmed here: Scooby Doo from California; Turner South, Blue Ribbon Services, Best Places to Visit; CNN; Allegheny Ghost Hunters; Anderson Group 360º News Show; Proof Positive from California; Office Kei, Film Production for Japan; Globe Trekker, Southeast USA; Local Secrets – Big Finds; Ghost Adventures; Paranormal Investigations. “The Hole” in the prison’s basement. “Because of what people have said they have seen, felt, or taken photos of, the pen has received a lot of attention after it closed 30 years ago,” Stiles said. “I am a believer because of my own experiences, but it just depends. We’ve had people leave disappointed only to let us know what their cameras captured, and we’ve had people run out of here because of an experience. “It doesn’t happen for everyone, and who knows why that is, but no matter what, they get to see one of the most brutal prisons that ever existed in our country. When you really get into the history and the list of inmates through all of those years, if ghosts are real, there definitely should be some here,” he continued. “That’s why our visitors are offered so many different tour options.” Tours for the rest of May will be offered between 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. During the months of June, July, and August the tours are open to the public seven days per week from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The hours return to 11 a.m.-4 p.m. six days a week in September and October, and in November three ventures are offered at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and then the pen is open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. This hallway is where the legendary “Shadow Man” was photographed a few years ago. … Is that an orb? Because it’s not a dusty camera lens. Since there is no heat or air-conditioning, the prison closes in December and remains that way until April. Group tours, field-trip excursions, and opportunities for paranormal investigations also are available, and the details can be examined by visiting www.wvpentour.com. The staff, along with many volunteers, presents the, “Dungeon of Horrors” that opens in late September and continues through Halloween, and “Zombie Paintball” begins in late September and continues through November. “If you want to see it, it’s here and it’s open most days of the week,” Stiles said. “There’s no telling what you will experience while here, but it’s definitely something you will never forget. “Killers lived here. People who killed their wives, their children, their parents, their best friends, and people they didn’t know just because,” he said. “Death, violence, brutality – it all took place here for a very long time, but you can’t really imagine it until you see this place with your own eyes.” Please view the entire photo gallery here: [satellite gallery=11] Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window) 27 Responses Psycho August 10, 2016 I found this place by accident while driving through W.V. while headed home to Michigan. Took the tour with my wife and got an “Old Sparky” T-shirt. Fascinating and eerie place for sure. Much to my amazement a couple months later my brother whom lived in Ohio told me about a real cool place he found and stopped at. I was shocked to see he had been drawn to the same location and I never mentioned I had been there!!! Weird huh? Log in to Reply Donna May 24, 2015 As for holding the “worst of the worst” criminals, the WV Penitentiary was only one of two prisons available in the state of WV at the time my brothers were incarcerated in the mid 1970s for breaking and entering. Their crime was removing concrete blocks from the side of the Big Wheel department store in Moundsville and breaking into the store at night to steal merchandise. They did and proceeded to distribute their ill gotten gains to all their friends on Dorsey St in Moundsville. Needless to say, it didn’t take long for the police to arrest them. They were sentenced to 1 to 10 years in the WV Penitentiary. One of my brothers, a 19 year old young man, was gang raped not long after arriving at the prison. I’m not minimizing their crimes, but today, the punishment would fit the crime. The prison was a training ground for young men to become career criminals. Do I think that the prison should have been closed? Absolutely. It was an inhumane place in the 80s and 90s. Did incarceration there deter crime? Probably not. Have we learned anything from the horrible acts that were committed there. I hope and pray we have. Log in to Reply Paul May 16, 2015 I worked in that facility for several years, leaving a year before it closed to work at Sing Sing prison in New York. The article is by and large accurate as I see it, but there are some items that are incorrect or misleading. First of all, not all of the inmates incarcerated there were killers or serious criminals. Many of the inmates had lengthy sentences for drug offenses, and others were there because they had first been sent to a less restrictive prison but misbehaved there, and thus ended up in Moundsville. In general, but not in every case, the long term inmates incarcerated for murder were the best behaved inmates. In fact, for most of those inmates, the murder was their only crime and they had not lived a criminal lifestyle otherwise. The vast majority of problems were caused by a small percentage of inmates, primarily members of the Avengers (actually they called themselves Satin’s Avengers… a “charter” of an outlaw biker organization based in New Hampshire), and the Arian Brotherhood. Of the two groups, although it was the Avengers that kicked off the riot, the ABs were far and away the more violent and dangerous. Black inmates were also organized, but they were not part of the Bloods or Crips gangs as they commonly were in larger states. The ABs eventually got the upper hand over the Avengers and the Avengers leader, Danny Lehmann, was murdered, supposedly by ABs, in North Hall. Contrary to what the article states, North Hall was not always home to the worst of the inmates. In fact, prior to the 1986 riot it was a Protective Custody unit and the worst inmates were housed on the other (south) end of the prison. After the riot, a larger restrictive custody area was deemed necessary and North Hall became the punitive unit. The prison as it appears today bears scant resemblance to what it did prior to its closing. That is because 30 years of neglect and unheated areas over time cause paint to peel and an area to look much worse than it was once. In reality, inmate housing areas were well kept and cleaned daily, cell blocks were regularly painted, and inmates were required to keep their cells in sanitary condition. They were given paint to paint their cells to improve their environment. Although the façade of the prison is daunting in appearance, aside from the relatively small cells this prison was no worse as a facility than many maximum security prisons in use in far wealthier states today, including Sing Sing, where I also worked for several years. Ten to 15 million dollars could have repaired that prison to acceptable standards, especially considering the new dining facility present there, rather than the 160 million Gaston had spent on the Fayette facility. They could have built an annex where they built the current regional jail, and the problem would have been solved. There were some staffing issues at that prison, largely caused by nepotism and cronyism practices, but there was also a cadre of highly qualified and experienced employees who were displaced by the incredibly stupid and blatantly political decision to build the replacement facility in Fayette County, where the replacement to this day has huge staffing problems. The Mount Olive boondoggle was incredibly built just up the road from a Federal prison paying much higher wages with the result being the Mount Olive basically serves as a training facility for the Feds. The escape in the 1992 never should have happened. As is often the case in West Virginia, warden appointments are political in nature, and they had a warden at that time who had zero corrections experience. He had been a State Police Sergeant who served in a training capacity at the State Police Academy, and was totally in over his head from day one at Moundsville. Not only did he approve improper practices, he ignored deficiencies. The tunnel dug from the prison greenhouse under that wall in Hogans Heroes fashion was masterfully done, that’s true, but it happened right next to the Prison Industries Building and literally under the desk of a civilian clerk there who reported hearing scratching noises that sounded like digging to the prison administration. The bozos ignored the warning and the escape happened. After that escape, the warden was dismissed, but since he was drawing his police pension he could not return to police work without losing that so the Caperton folks did the next stupid thing, and put him in charge of a regional jail. Go figure. Log in to Reply Paul May 16, 2015 One other thing of note. The State Supreme Court did not order the facility closed. They appointed a local circuit judge, who in turn appointed one of his friends to be the prison “monitor”. This individual was paid in the neighborhood of $70,000 (a handsome sum 30 to 35 years ago) per year to take a look at the facility and report back to the judge. He did this in addition to his day job as an instructor at the Community College. We’d see him once a week or so tooling around the prison asking some questions but mostly talking with inmates… he was very much of the liberal persuasion, and after all it wasn’t his money being spent. He also strung out his well paid monitoring, and would arrive in his new Mercedes for his weekly visits, a rather ostentatious presentation, raking in that cash for years. At the end he came to the only conclusion a confirmed liberal could come to… to say the prison was cruel and unusual punishment and those poor inmates should get new, nicer digs. It wasn’t the judges money either, and he didn’t have any relatives or friends working there, so he had no problem ordering what the “monitor”, who made hundreds of thousands of dollars forming his opinion and recommendation, recommended. That’s when all the political back room deals and maneuvering took place that saw Wheeling lose the new regional jail, and Moundsville get the regional jail and mini prison, with the majority of the money being spent in Fayette County near the Governor’s cousin’s farm. If fact, the Governor commissioned an Atlanta firm and paid it $100,000 to do a study and come up with the, of course, logical conclusion that of the 27,000 square miles in the State of West Virginia, that was the most logical place to build it. It was southern West Virginia politics at its very best. Log in to Reply Steve Novotney May 17, 2015 Paul – thanks for reading the story and for visiting Weelunk, and thanks for your comment. I did not work at the facility nor do I have a career in the prison industry. In my position, I must go off of official records and recorded history so if that research differs from what you believe to be true I would suggest you contact the folks at the tours department so they can correct their alleged errors. Anonymous May 17, 2015 thank you for the update information Log in to Reply Joe Meyers October 25, 2015 Very well put. As a former officer at WVP also, 1988 to 1994, you hit the nail on the head with your comments!! The public doesn’t know the truth on a lot of the dealings from inside the prison. You shed a little light on it. But so much more will never be brought out. Log in to Reply Jewell Matthewss May 16, 2015 Error on the WV Penitentiary story previously, the murder of the Ketchum guard son was by a prisoner and not a guard. Log in to Reply Jewell Matthewss May 16, 2015 On the WV Penitentiary story, the murder of the Supreme Court Justice’s uncle was by a prisoner and not by a guard. Log in to Reply Rich beaver May 16, 2015 Robert McGilton : a convicted murder was cut up and privates stuffed down his throat during a riot . Suppose to be a squealer . His poor Mother always for years said he was murdered in the penn . I think he has a brother Sam still Living but not sure . I know disc jockey Donn Caldwell went to prison but did not know it was Moundsville . I worked with 3 retired State Police Officers at Mobay Miles Bayer after they retired and they told me a lot . I enjoy your articles . I ALSo knew some of the guards . Please don’t use my name but initials would be okay . Keep up the good work . Log in to Reply Anonymous December 3, 2015 Did you know Robert? I am his niece Log in to Reply Anonymous November 26, 2016 So not true about Bob he was a hitman for the mob he got caught and sent there he was a tough guy Log in to Reply Jewell Matthewss May 16, 2015 I have a gold pocket watch given to my husband’s grandfather and inscribed “To Warden J E Matthews by the Prisoners at West Virginia Penitentiary.” He was the Warden from early 1909 to November 1910 and relieved in controversy according to a book by Dr Gary Tucker. This was passed to my father-in-law, my husband, and I will give it to my only grandson. According to a newspaper article, a brooch was also given to Mrs. Matthews. They lived in the 3d and 4th towers along with a mother-in-law and 3 children. Mrs Matthews was pianist there and held a Bible study. Their cook was a prisoner there for food poisoning. I have a paper weight showing a man with a large 10-gal hat with leashes to several bloodhounds. A damaged picture shows a watermelon feast in the dining room, two photos of women with large hats, and my father-in-law at 11 yrs in a kitchen worker’s outfit. He told me that prisoners were whipped and made to break large stone. I wondered how he went to school, and he said a guard would walk him and sister down and open the gate and then let them back in at end of school in Moundsville. His brother was a guard there. The uncle of our Supreme Court Justice was murdered by a guard there in maybe 1922 when his father Menis E Ketchem, known as “ME Ketchem,” was the Warden. After reading Carter Seaton Taylor’s Book, Father’s Troubles, I made a bus trip there with a group of Ohio Sou Univ students who were very interested in the paranormal sightings. I took the tour but did not follow them in spending the night at the various sighting locations. I am now 77 years old. I understand the penitentiary was built in such an austere appearance so criminals would not want to go there. I also worked for a Huntington attorney who represented Larry Fudge, one of the last prisoners to be electrocuted. I remember typing all of the defense material in maybe in 1959 and also reading the many accounts in the Huntington papers. The parents would come to the office and be so sad. I remember them saying they would never buy another Huntington newspaper. Log in to Reply Anonymous May 17, 2015 Thank you for leaving a very informative comment. Log in to Reply K. Francis May 16, 2015 Interesting and informative. My uncle was a guard at the prison for over 20 years and my dad was one of the guardsmen that brought in the deal with the riots in 73. I had heard a lot of stories growing up and this was a bit like a trip down memory lane to hear about them again. Thanks. Log in to Reply jack hattman May 16, 2015 SOME OF THE BEST CONTENT IN WEELUNK IS THE HISTORICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF OUR AREAS PLACES AND TALES OF HISTOICAL INTEREST. I HAD ALWAYS HEARD THE URBAN LEGEND THAT MONDSVILLE CHOSE THE PRISON OVER THE UNIVERSITY. IT SOUNDED BELIEVABLE. Log in to Reply Bob Dorris May 16, 2015 When I took the tour of the WV Pen several years ago I couldn’t help but think of a man I know who spent three years there, Donn Caldwell, a former Wheeling Disc Jockey. I can’t imagine being in there. However I believe the prison systems have gone from one extreme to another. Being in prison these days is no longer punishment. The maximum security facility at Mt. Olive, looks more like a college campus than a penitentiary. http://www.wvdoc.com/wvdoc/PrisonsandFacilities/MountOliveCorrectionalComplex/tabid/51/Default.aspx Log in to Reply Mike Breiding May 16, 2015 I was under the impression prisons were no longer for punishment, but for control and rehabilitation. Punishing someone is no deterrent to criminal behavior unless it is the death penalty which is an irrevocable sentence. Do “country club” prisons exist? Ask Bernie Madoff . See: http://www.businessinsider.com/madoffs-butner-prison-is-the-crown-jewel-of-federal-prison-system-2009-7 Regardless of the “ammenities” of some prisons the inmates are incarcerated. Log in to Reply Donna May 24, 2015 Hi Bob, The loss of freedom is the punishment. Having to lose your freedom in a place like WV Pen was inhumane and extreme. And I think we need to remember that most of the inmates will return to our communities and become our neighbors. So the more we can do to “rehabilitate” the better off as a society we are. I truly believe that if we invested more in foster care and parenting, we could be able to invest a lot less in building new prisons. If we opened the doors and released anyone who was in prison for drug crimes or crimes related to drug addiction, about 75% of the inmates would walk out those doors. We really need to take a good hard look at why inmates are behind those doors to begin with. Log in to Reply Steve Novotney May 24, 2015 Donna – I agree with you. There are A LOT of folks in jail right now for minor drug offenses, but when they go inside they are expect to rehab themselves if they have an addiction issue. The American corrections industry needs reformed terribly, imo. Matt May 16, 2015 So, the same David Williams escaped twice? That’s pretty interesting. And, how did the rumor that Moundsville was offered the University get started? Log in to Reply Steve Novotney May 16, 2015 Matt – I have no idea how it started, but I’ve heard it my entire life. Log in to Reply Anonymous August 2, 2018 I was in the 5th grade when David Williams escaped. We lived in New Martinsville. I remember the school being on lockdown that day but wasn’t sure what happened. Williams had held my neighbors hostage until they taught him how to drive their car so he could escape. Luckily he was caught hours later in Charleston in a bright red Ford Thunderbird which belonged to my neighbor. I remember stories saying he didn’t want to go to the other houses because there were kids there. I also remember seeing things moved around on our porch thinking someone had tried to enter our home. Log in to Reply truth be told May 16, 2015 The Moundsville Pen actually closed in March 1995 when the last group of inmates were transferred to the new prison Mount Olive, Ronald Williams was actually captured in Arizona where he committed another murder for which he received the death penalty. Log in to Reply Steve Novotney May 16, 2015 According to Ronald Williams arrest records (and newspaper articles about his capture), he was arrested in NYC after committing the murder in Arizona. Thank you so much for reading Weelunk! Log in to Reply Anonymous May 23, 2015 I write to Ronald Williams. He has told me some interesting stories about the prison. I have investigated the site 2 separate times. Log in to Reply Mike Breiding May 16, 2015 Very timely post for Betsy and I. We just took the pen tour for the first time yesterday, May the 15th, which was our 33rd Wedding Anniversary. Our tour guide was a retired career corrections officer who was at the Moundsville pen for 9 years. He had some chilling stories to tell, many of them personal accounts. Definitely worth a visit and only 25 minutes from Wheeling. Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.