#moundsville #hauntedprison #throughtheveil
In Part One locked down inside Moundsville Penitentiary, We speak to an inmate we found peering from an upstairs window. We linger through the North Hall and infirmary and physic ward! We find out we are not all alone at the West Virginia Penitentiary. A gothic-style prison located in Moundsville, West Virginia. Now withdrawn and retired from prison use, it operated from 1876 to 1995. In 1863, West Virginia seceded from Virginia at the height of the American Civil War. On Wednesday, November 7, 1979, fifteen prisoners escaped from the prison. January 1, 1986, was the date of one of the most infamous riots in recent history. The West Virginia Penitentiary was undergoing many changes and problems. Security had become extremely loose in all areas. Since it was a “cons” prison, most of the locks on the cells had been picked and inmates roamed the halls freely. Bad plumbing and insects caused the rapid spreading of various diseases. The prison was holding more than 2,000 men and crowding was an issue. Another major contribution to the riot’s cause was the fact that it was a holiday. Many of the officers had called off work, and prisoners planned to conduct their uprising on this specific day.
At around 5:30 pm, twenty inmates, known as a group called the Avengers, stormed the mess hall where Captain Glassock and others were on duty. “Within seconds, he (Captain Glassock), five other officers, and a food service worker were tackled and slammed to the floor. Inmates put knives to their throats and handcuffed them with their own handcuffs.
From 1899 to 1959, ninety-four men were executed at the prison. Hanging was the method of execution until 1949, with eighty-five men meeting that fate. The public could attend hangings, which were public until June 19, 1931. On that date, Frank Hyer was executed for murdering his wife. When the trap door beneath him was opened and his full weight settled into the noose, he was instantly decapitated.
Beginning in 1951, electrocution became the means of execution. The electric chair, nicknamed “Old Sparky”, used by the prison was originally built by an inmate there, Paul Glenn. Nine men were electrocuted before the state prohibited capital punishment entirely in 1965. The original chair is on display in the facility and is included in the official tour.