Moundsville, West Virginia
The West Virginia State Penitentiary is a retired, Gothic style prison located in Moundsville, West Virginia. It operated from 1876 to 1995.
From 1899 to 1959, ninety-four men were executed. Hanging was the method of execution until 1949 with eighty-five men meeting that fate. The public could attend hangings until June 19, 1931. On that date, Frank Hyer was executed for murdering his wife. However, when the trap door beneath him was opened and his full weight was put onto the noose, he was instantly decapitated. Following this event, attendance at hangings was by invitation only. The last man to face execution by hanging, Bud Peterson from Logan County, lies in the prison's cemetery, as his family refused to claim his body. Beginning in 1951, electrocution became the means of execution. Ironically, the electric chair, nicknamed "Old Sparky", used by the prison was originally built by an inmate there, Paul Glenn. Nine men died in the chair until the state outlawed execution entirely in 1965. The original chair is on display in the facility and is a part of the official tour.
Towards the end of its life as a prison, the facility was marked with many instances of riots and escapes. In the 1960s, the prison reached a peak population of about 2,000 inmates. With the building of more prisons, that number declined to 600 – 700 inmates by 1995. The fate of the prison was sealed in a 1986 ruling by the West Virginia Supreme Court which stated that the 5 x 7-foot (2.1 m) cells were cruel and unusual punishment. Within nine years, the West Virginia State was closed as a prison. Most of the inmates were transferred to the Mt. Olive Correctional Complex in Fayette County, West Virginia. A smaller correctional facility was built a mile away in Moundsville to serve as a regional jail.
Moundsville Prison is considered to be one of the most haunted prisons in the United States, with ghost stories originating as early as the 1930s. Legends include the prison occupying the site of a Native American burial ground. Reports include former guards seeing phantom inmates and a "shadow man" wandering the premises, as well as unexplained noises, voices, and cold spots.
*Partnering with another paranormal group for an investigation should not be regarded as an endorsement of that group by the G², nor as an endorsement of the G² from the other group.