MARSHALL COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) — It’s a tale of murder and mystery, as thousands of people flock to Moundsville to meet their fears dead in the eyes.
Nestled behind ancient burial grounds and where near 1,000 deaths occurred, 7News wanted to see if the stories of the Moundsville Penitentiary were true. What we took back is footage that we can’t explain.
“They begged, please don’t let me die in here.”
Tom Stiles, Executive Director of the Mounds for Economic Development Council
More than 12,000 locals head to the Penitentiary each year to be scared for fun during Halloween. But, the true horror takes place when the costumes are in storage.
“Well, I’ve been here for 20 years, and the place is haunted. I can tell you that,” said Tom Stiles, Executive Director of the Mounds for Economic Development Council.
In operation for 129 years, the last riot occurred on New Year’s Day of 1986. It lasted 52 hours – three inmates were brutally murdered and 16 guards were taken hostage.
People of the worst sort sat to wait out their days. A total of 998 deaths occurred in the Moundsville Penitentiary. Those same souls, some said, still linger.
Among the wretched lives murdered, a leader of the Aryan brotherhood, William Red Snyder – “Red” for short – was violently stabbed 37 times in his cell. It’s in his cell where people said they hear his voice the most.
But, Red is not alone.
May of 2004, a woman was staying the night in the Penitentiary. She heard a noise, saw a figure and then, captured… something. It now hangs in the museum.
“There was a solid black shadow standing in front of this door and it was looking right at her. It seemed to be transparent, and it actually looked down at the light at its chest and then looked back at her,” said Jason McKinney, Moundsville Penitentiary tour guide. “If that’s not strange enough, she continues walking back down the hall, raises her Sony camera, she took one photograph and thankfully she captured the shadow we call the shadow man.”
Jason McKinney is a spirit enthusiast, some might say.
One eerie night in 2012, McKinney was walking the dark halls in the north wing when something blocked the light from his flashlight.
“A human-like figure, best I can describe, walked out sideways from cell 17, and kind of stared me down for about five seconds. I froze in fear because I thought, I don’t want to continue walking towards it. I don’t want to turn my back on it,” McKinney said. “So, a few moments later I decided I’m going to walk out backwards. I did that. I got out of sight around the corner and whatever that thing was, it was still standing there *LOUD BANG ON CAMERA* staring at… Still standing there watching me.”
If you watch the interview, you can hear it for yourself. It was louder in person but sounded like metal slamming together. Jason, Dan, our cameraman, and I stood alone on the fourth floor, the psych ward. We obviously didn’t make that sound but if not us, then who?
Women said their hair gets pulled; others said they’ve been touched on the shoulder. We walked away in broad daylight having heard an unexplainable noise.
“The people that don’t believe me, I say come spend the night here,” McKinney said.
If you do want to see for yourself if the place is haunted, click here to schedule a tour.