West Virginia State Penitentiary is considered by many to be the scariest haunted prison in America. Considering the many stories of hauntings and the history of the prison inmates, it is obvious why.
West Virginia State Penitentiary was opened in 1876 with 250 inmates. If you view any picture of the prison, you will see a Gothic and very spooky looking building. Even if the prison wasn’t reportedly haunted, it would still spook many.
It was decided that the prison would be extended in 1929; however, the construction was not completed until 1959. In these two decades, the prison was greatly overcrowded with some cells having three inmates each.
West Virginia State Penitentiary has been the scene of many executions over the years it was operated as a prison, either by hanging or electric chair. However, executions were not the only deaths in the prison: Illness, overcrowding, and riots resulted in the deatsh of many inmates too.
Over the years. visitors and paranormal investigators have reported being touched or feeling ‘something’ close to them, many have also felt that someone is watching them. Not only does this prison give most people the spooks because of the Gothic construction and appearance, but also sightings of three different ghosts have been frequently reported.
The Maintenance ManThis is the most popular of the three hauntings. During the period that the West Virginia State Penitentiary was a jail, a prisoner working as maintenance man used to spy on the inmates and reported the other inmates bad behavior to the guards. One day when he was in the bathroom the maintenance manager was attacked by several inmates and killed. He is said to be lurking in the bathroom where he was savagely murdered, but he makes no contact with the living.
Robert the InmateRobert was an inmate who was violently murdered by the prison guards who were known to be physically abusive towards the more hard core inmates. They would beat them to ‘near’ death, but this time ‘near’ was too far and they killed Robert. His remains are said to be buried behind one of the walls in the prison. Robert’s spirit reportedly walks the prison to this day terrifying anyone with whom he comes in contact.
Avril AdkinsThere is also the story of Avril Adkins. He was sentenced to hang by the neck until death. He was taken to the gallows for hanging but something went wrong during the execution process, and Avril fell through trap door and landed on his head having serious head injuries. Reportedly, the guards picked him up, took him back up the gallow stairs and hung him again. This time he died. Many visitors to the prison say they have seen him walking around the gallows where he died.
West Virginia State Penitentiary is now closed as prison.However, it is operated as tourist attraction.
More stories of ghosts and hauntings can be found in my book, Scary Ghosts and Playful Ghosts:Children's Tales of Fright and Delight. It is a collection of ghost stories targeted to middle grade to teen readers. It also includes a researched chapter addressing the question as to the existence or non-existence of ghosts. Purchase information for the book, as well as for my other children's books can be accessed via my Amazon Author Page.
Readers may also access book information, as well as useful information and resources that advocate for the well-being and entertainment of children by visiting my book website, Melissa Harker Ridenour Books.