The Haunted Moundsville Penitentiary

The Haunted Moundsville Penitentiary

Our ghost hunting adventure takes us to Moundsville in West Virginia where the towering and scary looking West Virginia State Pen “castle” still stands.

The Gothic architecture was purposely intended to scare new inmates walking into what was once voted one of the worst prisons in the history of the USA.

The unspeakable evils that took place here led to the haunted Moundsville Penitentiary becoming home to countless spirits.

Hell on Earth

The “Bloody Valley” comes up on every ghost hunter’s list. It is actually one of the top real haunted places in the US right now and the history behind it is gruesome!

Everything was okay when the prison was commissioned and opened in 1876. That was until it became seriously overcrowded around the 1930’s and all hell broke lose!

Riots, prison breaks, torture, dangerous prison gangs, homicides (either committed by prison warders or fellow inmates..), rapes, you name it… the West Virginia State Penitentiary had seen it all before it’s closure in 1995.

The famous Charles Manson (wannabe musician and freak cult leader) once made a request in 1983 – during one of his many incarcerations – to be transferred to this “hell on earth” but had his requests thrown out the window.


There have been several investigations carried out by groups and individuals that continue to report positive findings from EMP readings among other ghost busting methods.

Some of the most notable investigations were aired on paranormal TV shows which include Ghost Adventures (Travel Channel), The Dresden Files, Ghost Asylum (Destination America), Stranded, Scariest Places on Earth (ABC Family) and Ghost Hunters among others.

Eyewitnesses have reported shadows walking into the high walls and strange voices from the cell blocks but much of the ghostly activity takes place only in a few spots within the huge 10 acre prison’s compound.

These include the basement recreation chambers popularly know as the “Sugar Shack” back then, Death-row, the Chapel (probably filled by souls looking for redemption…), the showers, and the hanging area which was near the North Wagon Gate.

A Dark Past…

At least 1000 murders and suicides took place within the prison walls before it was decommissioned; and this as we all know, is a good recipe for some good old haunting!

So many other deaths were unaccounted for due to poor record keeping.

Quite a number of inmates met their demise in the hands of prison guards who tortured them ruthlessly (some to death…) using several inhumane techniques such as the Shoo-fly where a prisoner would be tied firmly to the torture device then hit by a cold stream of water on the face for hours.

The Kicking Jenny is where prisoners would get tied to another torture device and whipped mercilessly (always until the guy doing the whipping got tired or the prisoners almost died).

The entrance to Moundsville

One former superintendent at the prison was interviewed by the Cincinnati Enquirer and he cited the above gruesome activities as some of the reasons he had chosen to quit his job at the prison and become a whistle-blower.

The hangman’s noose saw off close to 85 inmates while 9 inmates were unlucky enough to visit “Old Sparky”, the electric chair built by an inmate (Paul Glenn).

In addition to all these ugly events, the ground where the prison building stands is rumored to have been an ancient burial ground used by Native Americans who occupied the land.

As if this is not enough, unclaimed bodies of inmates who died in the prison were buried in a cemetery just behind the prison walls.

So who haunts this famous attraction?

The “Shiv’d” Snitch…

One of the ghosts haunting the WVSP is that of R.D. Wall.

This guy unfortunately told on the wrong people and a trip to the boilers room was the last thing he did before three goons jumped him and stabbed him to death using crude shivs.

The shocking and painful death can be the reason why his spirit has never left the prison.

The Shanked Soap Lover…

Another prisoner who met an ugly death in the prison was William Syder A.K.A Red. He was bad to the bone and very feared by everyone in the entire prison although his favorite pass time was a bit of a laugh, watching soap operas especially The Days of Our Lives.

As the leader of the Aryan Brotherhood, he could have anyone killed but a competing member eyeing the top brotherhood seat finally had him killed and took over.

Apparently he still thinks he runs the place and has chosen to stick around and yell orders to other ghosts.

Twice Killed…

A botched hanging carried out on one Paul Advil Atkins could also be the reason why his spirit still lingers at the infamous prison building.

The story goes that the first attempt to hang him went so terribly and comically wrong that he instead ended up face first on the ground below the gallows when the trapped door opened before the noose was properly secured around his neck.

He was led back up despite the serious injuries he had suffered from the accident but this time there no mistakes.

A Ghost Party…

There are so many other ghost stories of unidentified figures that roam the prisons compound. The haunted Moundsville Penitentiary can be visited by ghost hunters and ghost story lovers looking for some nice thrills.

If you have any thoughts or opinions on the subject we have covered here today please leave them in the comment section below.

2 comments on “The Haunted Moundsville Penitentiary

  1. Hi there, thanks for this fascinating article! I love reading about haunted places such as this, and I like exploring them too with my partner! Just the other day we went to an abandoned creepy haunted holiday park. Do you do other articles such as this? If not would you consider doing a series of them? They’re great to read!

    Thanks, Dan

    1. Of course we do Dan – check out the paranormal section of our categories and a load of article options will come up. What’s the name of the holiday park by the way?

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