Moundsville Penitentiary Investigation

Moundsville Prison was modeled after the prison in Joliet, Illinois in a castellated Gothic style and was officially established in July of 1866. At that time it was only a wooden structure about 24 feet wide, 100 feet long and surrounded by a wooden fence14 feet high and four feet underground. Due to eventual overcrowding of prisoners into small 5x7 foot cells the prison in 1989 deemed this "cruel and unusual punishment" which lead to the closing of the prison in 1995. Many of those prisoners who died there were later buried at Whitegate Cemetery on Tom's Run Road about 3/4 miles from Fourth Street. The penitentiary eventually enclosed six acres of property on a 10-acre piece of land with 24 foot walls.

Located at 818 Jefferson Ave., Moundsville, WV. 26041, 304-845-6200






Hauntings: There are a number of places within the prison where untimely death and murder have taken place in the past that may still produce paranormal phenomena. Among these places are the Sugar Shack which was once a recreational area for prisoners. A number of people have seen shadowy figures and picked up EVP within the darkened area. "The Hole" where among other sightings a "Manson-like" ghostly figure was captured on video by the Allegheny Mountain Ghost Hunters in 2003.  In the maximum security section of the prison is where "Red" Snyder, head of the Aryan Brotherhood, was kept. He was stabbed 37 times by fellow inmate Russell "Rusty" Lassiter in 1992 and there have been sounds, voices, strange feelings and EVPs captured there even since. One other area known for strange occurrences is the circular entrance gate which was used to separate arriving inmates from the warden's living quarters. According to reports, the circular cage turns periodically by itself, giving the impression that the spirits of criminals are still arriving at the prison.

One ghost that is reported the most is that of a maintenance man who lived in the basement. The maintenance man was thought to be a snitch, would tell the warden and guards whenever he caught the prisoners doing something inappropriate.  The prisoners got their revenge, stabbing him several times with homemade knives while he was sitting on the toilet in the bathroom.  Today his ghost supposedly wanders around that section of the basement. One of the most intriguing photographs taken at Moundsville is that of the "Shadow Man" by Polly Gear. "When I reached the doorway that enters the small hallway between the big hall and the cafeteria, I flipped on my light and saw a black form of a human shadow walking toward me; but it was looking out the windows to its right as it was walking."

Other haunted locations within the prison include the gymnasium, the caged shower area in the maximum security section, The Alamo where they kept the most violent of all the prisoners and also where a strange shadow-like image showed up on another documentary The Shadows of Moundsville.  It's clearly visible in the section where psychic Nancy Myer has here back to The Alamo in visible light. A shadow's head and shoulders clearly poke out of a prison cell in the distance and the camera was never moved. This was never mentioned in the documentary but I caught by watching the documentary.

The Ghost Research Society investigated Moundsville Prison on May 21, 2010. Team members included: Jim Graczyk, Stan Suho, Joe Tito, Joey Tito, Nicole Tito, Artie Schramm, Lisa Krick, Lou Hovanes, Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Dale Kaczmarek. We were assisted by Rene Kruse and Craig and Melissa Telesha.








Personal Encounters:  

Jim Graczyk : Equipment: 12mp Digital Camera

"Ghost Cam"

My experience at Moundsville Prison was that it was a nice old place with lots of history. I really did pick up anything unusual on my own personal 12mp digital camera. Dale would be reviewing the "Ghost Cam" that I was carrying around the building. I did not get any unusual feelings or encounter anything paranormal. I was sort of disappointed as we did not have full access to the building yet given a tour with the lights on. At times, you couldn't see where you were without a flashlight and you had to keep second guessing what you were seeing. I wouldn't mind going back to the place as long as we got a daytime or lights on tour first followed by an overnight investigation.  

Dale Kaczmarek: Equipment: 10mp Digital Camera, Sony Nightshot Camcorder, Tri-Field Natural EM Meter, Full Spectrum Camera, and Melmeter.

While investigating Red Snyder's cell in maximum security, Rosemary Ellen Guiley set up in the cell using Frank's Box, EM Pump, Digital Recorder and Tri-Field Natural EM Meter. Joey Tito was filming the event from outside the cell and I was on the other side of caged-in enclosure near the prison yard door. I kept seeing something in the Nightshot viewfinder that looked like little "pockets" of mists on at least two occasions drift from the direction of Snyder's cell and out the door to the prison yard. I mentioned this to the group. I then journeyed over to the opposite side of the cell block and just as I turned the corner and focused down the empty corridor, a rather large mist quickly exited out of a prison cell, exactly opposite to the Snyder cell on the other side. I conducted an instant review of the tape to verify what I saw and it was confirmed by others that evening. Upon further review a raspy voice accompanies the mist and seems to say, "help."  

While conducting another Frank's Box session by the psycho ward isolation cells, I begin to wander between the psycho ward and the infirmary with only the LED screen on my Nightshot camera for illumination. I saw another group of people at the far end of the infirmary however they were not talking and no sound could be heard coming from their direction. I entered the threshold to the infirmary, took a few steps, panned the camera around and began to head back through the psycho ward when I suddenly heard with my own ears a disembodied gruff female cough to the right and behind me. I immediately spun around only to see nothing and the other group was still where I had originally saw them, at the entrance to the infirmary so they could not have caused that sound which was much closer and very loud!

I did pick up a very high EMF spike on the Melmeter of a 7.5 in "The Hole" when we first arrived and it quickly dissipated. I could find no natural explanation for the spike.  

Stan Suho:  We arrived in late afternoon and made a walk around the Prison. I made VHS recordings of the surrounding area and took several pictures, both 35mm and Digital cameras. At midnight we came back to begin our investigation. The decision was made not to set up a Command Post so G.E.I.S.T. was not used. I limited myself to Cameras and Handhelds and Digital Audio Recorders. I walked through all the hot areas. The only thing I noticed were some ORBS in the "Sugar Shack" area. This of course poses the musical question-- Why do I get ORBS only in places that are reportedly haunted? The question remains unanswered.  We wrapped up around 6AM. The only thing unusual was the aforementioned ORBS. If we do a follow up, I would prefer that it be just our group, and we do a complete setup.  

Nicole Tito:  Team Partner: Lisa Krick

Equipment Used: Digital camera, audio recorder, K-II meter, Video Ovilus

Personal Experiences/Impressions: Initially venturing into the Sugar Shack, Lisa and I didn't feel comfortable and felt like there was somebody watching us the entire team.  We did not stay down there long enough to take readings or perform an EVP session and decided to return later on in the night with other GRS members. 

Upon returning to the Sugar Shack with other GRS members later on in the night, the video Ovilus kept repeating the same words over and over again while Rosemary Ellen Guiley was performing a Ghost Box session.  These words were fear and crash during the session.  There were no other abnormalities noted during the session.

Lisa and I were conducting an EVP session in the new cafeteria and sat on opposite ends of the room.  At one point, we both had an uneasy feeling and I thought I saw a ball of light dart across the room.  I was unable to determine if it was a nearby flashlight, but we did not hear any talking or noises nearby sounding like other people.  During this session, we were sitting in the complete dark and could not see Lisa across the room.  I was able to see the lights on her audio recorder and K-II meter and at one point something moved in front of those lights and blocked them out from my vantage point.  At this time, I asked Lisa if she had moved, but she stated that she had remained still.  Lisa stated that she thought she seen shadows behind where I was sitting as well.   

EVPs: Possible EVP captured at the Wagon Gate with Lisa and Lou.   Interesting Video Ovilus session in Red's cell; stated "women alone" at one point and the screen turned red as it was malfunctioning. 

Still Photos: No abnormal photos.


Joey Tito:  While at Moundsville I ran a free hand video camera throughout the night. I recorded the walk-thru tour in its entirety prior to going off venturing with the team. I did not come across anything paranormal in my footage, however I did record some of the box session that Rosemary was holding while Dale caught the mist exiting the cell behind the one Rosemary, Craig, and I were experimenting in. Some of the responses she was getting during this session as well as others throughout the night were pretty interesting and in my opinion too hard to notch it up as coincidence.

I did see the free form mist that Dale captured on video when he first played it back. I can not describe what that could have been given the lack of air flow, ventilation, and atmosphere of the cell block. It was rather odd but very cool to see.


Lisa Krick: Equipment used:  Canon Digital Rebel XTI, Sony Audio Recorder, K-II meter.  

The walkthrough of the prison was interesting and educational, but no sense of anything paranormal at that time could be because there were approximately 40 people tromping around on the tour.  After the walkthrough, Nicole and I started in the old visitation room, which now holds a display of Indians around a campfire.  This is the site of one of the riots that happened in the prison where three inmates were murdered.  We sat in there for a bit and did an EVP session.   The K-II popped up a several times.   I asked "why are you afraid?" and it spiked to three.  It also spiked to three when I asked the following, "Why are you here?" "Are you a murderer?"  "Did you kill someone before you came here?"  "Can you tell us if you were here during the riot?"  And it spiked when I said, "I'm here to listen." We got a response via the audio recorder during the EVP session at 6.06-6.10 minutes into the session.  I had asked the question, "did you die here?" and a female voice whispers, "coffin, coffin"  

Then we headed to the hallway outside the cafeteria where the infamous "shadow man" picture was taken.  We sat out there for a bit and did another EVP session, but there was too much distraction from people walking the hallway to get to other places.  However, at a couple of points during the EVP session, we had some whispers.  All I heard was whispering, but Dale cleaned it up for us and he heard "how lovely woman is".  At about 8.29 minutes on the audio session, it sounded to me like it was pouring outside and I asked Nicole if it was raining.  She stated she didn't think it was raining.  Then we get the second EVP which was "please don't hurt me" followed by "it's important."  

Then it was off to the cafeteria, where the other riot took place.  We walked around the big, empty room and then found the doors which took us into the kitchens.  Very eerie in there, but empty feeling.  We stepped back out into the cafeteria and sat down to do another EVP session.  I specifically made sure to sit in the "black" section of the cafeteria to see if I could passively provoke someone.  I had my back to the cafeteria line and kitchen and Nicole sat facing it, with her back to the guard room.  We both saw a light we couldn't explain on a far wall, but couldn't rule out that it might be from a random flashlight shining through the window from out in the courtyard.  However, I did keep seeing moving shadows on a far wall that I initially thought was a hallway.  I thought people were moving around in the hallway.  I told Nicole and then turned my flashlight on to show her the location I was talking about and to my surprise; it was a flat wall no hallway at all.  I turned my flashlight off and the shadows began to move on that wall again in a few minutes, but quickly stopped.  This room had an edgy feeling to it.  At the beginning of our EVP session in the cafeteria, I took two pictures, one right after the other.  The first picture has an anomaly in the upper left hand corner which cannot be explained.  The second picture was taken immediately after the first and does not contain said anomaly.  When I snapped the pictures, Nicole looked up at me and asked me if I had just moved.  I told her no and she said she thought there was something standing by my left side (which is where the "thing" is on my picture).   

At that point, it was close to 3am and we headed toward the Sugar Shack.  However, I got halfway down the stairs and felt really creeped out, so we decided to wait for a couple more of our guys for reinforcement before heading down there.  

So, we headed to the basketball courts which would normally have held the offenders against children.  They had to be segregated from the rest of the prison population to keep them safe, even in the yard.  We did another EVP session out there.  At this point, we had picked up Lou, Jim and Artie.  Nothing on the K-II , but Lou announced that his camera was acting up.  He even took the batteries out and it still malfunctioned.  As he told us about his camera, Nicole shouted out that the video Ovilus had given her the words "man and hat"  Lou then told us that he was wearing a hat.  Interesting.  

Next stop, the Wagon Gate.  This is where the executions took place.  There were 85 hangings performed here and nine electric chair executions.  We were not allowed to go upstairs where the executions actually took place because we were told it was unsafe.  However, they did have the trapdoors of the gallows open, and we stood directly underneath it to do our EVP session.  Nothing on the K-II meter.  We'll see what we get on EVP.  I did read a lot of the names on my "execution" list and some of their crimes to call to them.  Will find out if they answered.  Nicole got a response on her audio recorder when I read the name Shep Caldwell, who was the first man to be executed by hanging there.  It was sort of a sighing growl.   

Then, Nicole, Lou and I went to death row.  We stopped first in a cell where William "Red" Snyder was housed.  He was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, so I provoked him a lot.  I got nothing on the K-II meter.  I don't think he liked Lou standing in the doorway, though, because the video Ovilus went crazy and started to malfunction.  It flashed bursts of red three times and then spit out the words "women" and "alone" so Lou put a knife down on the bunk and walked away.  Nicole and I didn't get any responses that we could hear in real time after we were left alone with him.  Nicole walked down the hallway and I was left alone in the cell.  I got no real time response either.  However, there were whispers on the audio.  At 2.38 minutes on the audio recorder, I ask Red if he's afraid to talk to two girls and a guy and you can hear a faint "yeah."  At the 10.40 minute mark, the Ovilus starts to malfunction and says, "Mad, cross, women, alone" before completely breaking down and going red.  At that point I got cold and then Nicole got cold.  Then the Ovilus came back one last time and said, "Entire" to which I replied, "Entire?  What?  Your entire family?"  At that point you hear a deep breath which belongs to none of us in the cell.   

Next, we saw most of the rest of the GRS in the hallway and they were headed to the Sugar Shack, so we tagged along with them.  After everyone got settled down there, Rosemary set up "Frank's Box" and Nicole had the video Ovilus.  We were all recording the session.  We got some interesting hits on Ghost Box and Rosemary asked if anyone was following me.  It stated yes.  I think my new friend "Red" followed me down to the Sugar Shack.   At one point, I was facing the group and my back was to the room at large.  I felt ice cold on my back and Rosemary looked up and said that there was a presence behind me.  We tried to coax it to show itself, but the energy dissipated when two more folks walked the stairs and into the room.   

The last place we went to was the infirmary/psych ward.  We (Rosemary, Dale, Jim, Lou, Nicole, Joe and I) set up Ghost Box in one of the psych rooms where they put the extremely psychotic inmates.  We got very little response up there.  However, as we were the only people left in the building that were still roaming around (everyone else was down near the building entrance and ready to leave for the night) I snapped some pictures of the psych ward.  Our entire group was behind me when I snapped a picture of the large room and hallway beyond it.  When I analyzed my photo, there appears to be a figure in it which cannot be explained.  I believe it's a shadow person.   

Moundsville is an interesting location and is perhaps quite haunted.  However, I think it would be best to investigate this prison as a private investigation, rather than part of a large group. 


Video Evidence:  While conducting a Frank's Box session in Maximum Security section  of the prison in Red Snyder's cell, I walked off with my Sony Nightshot camera to the opposite end of the cell block and just as I rounded the corner, a large collection of mist came rushing out of the cell adjacent to Red's cell. This was in no way dust that was stirred up as I was walking very slowly since I was using the LCD screen for my only illumination and had just turned the corner and pointed the camera down the long corridor. I was several feet away from the cell anyway.  Upon further audio analysis, at the same time the mist is seen to float out of the cell, a creepy disembodied voice that sounds male and appears to be perhaps gurgling on blood clearing whispers loudly, "Help!"  Perhaps this was the spirit of Red still trying to escape anyway possible from his attacker even through the solid walls between the two cell blocks.

A bat was videotaped flying up and down that corridor and coming very close to the Nightshot camera. Perhaps it was picking up on the infrared light being emitted.

No other unusual video evidence was captured however some sounds were captured on the audio track of the video tape indicating that they were indeed disembodied voices and sounds.  

In the prison yard, fenced-in area, Rosemary was conducting a Ghost Box session and Stan and I were filming it. I was sitting at the far end of the enclosure and the rest of the team was sitting on a picnic bench perhaps sixty or more feet away.  Rosemary asks, "Did you die of accident?" and an almost immediate clear response on the box replied, "Yeah."  Another question followed, "What happened to you?" In reviewing this portion of the videotaped with headphones, a clear disembodied laughter can be heard which was captured on the camera's audio.  

During a Ghost Box session in the Sugar Shack, Lisa Krick asks the question, "Did you hear me when I talked to you at the cemetery today?"  A clear disembodied male whisper comes from the left of me and replies, "Yeah."  It is important to note that during this session there were other researchers partaking in the EVP experiment but that you could literally hear a pin drop. There was no talking or extraneous noise in the background.  

Later in the investigation the team moved up to the Psycho Ward and Infirmary and conducted another Ghost Box session in the Isolation Cell Area. Rosemary suggested that I wander the area between the Psycho Ward and Infirmary with my Nightshot camera. I saw another group approaching but they were at the far end of the next room and were pretty quiet.  Just as I poked my camera into the Infirmary, turned around and zoomed on something in the corner, I distinctly heard what sounded like a gruff female disembodied cough come from the right of me and very close!  I quickly swung my camera to that area and there was nothing to be seen or heard.  I cannot be absolutely sure however that this sound wasn't caused by the members of the other group however it did sound much closer than they were.


Ghost Box Evidence:  In the Sugar Shack, Rosemary asks the question "Was the Sugar Shack a happy place for you?" The reply, "it wasn't my favorite."  

Rosemary asks the question, "How often did you come down here?"  The reply, "Often"  

Rosemary asks the question, "What crime did you commit?"  The reply, "Murder"  

Rosemary asks the question, "Did you die in your…cell?"  The reply, "Here"

Lisa asks the question, "Were you with me at the cemetery earlier today?" The reply is a true EVP, "Yeah."    

EVP Evidence:  The following are EVP clips from sessions conducted by Nicole Tito and Lisa Krick.

Courtyard The sound of a gunshot was both heard and recorded in the main courtyard.  

Moundsville Old Visitation Room: Lisa asks if they know they're dead, then Nicole and her were looking for something and chatting with each other and in the background you can hear a whisper which when analyzed says, "coffin, coffin."  

Moundsville North Hall: Lisa and Nicole are in the North Hall and Lisa asks Nicole if it's raining outside and she says "Nooo" and then you hear a whisper which when analyzed says, "How lovely woman is", "please don't hurt me", "it's important."  The voice is a loud whisper and it's definitely male.  

Moundsville Red Cell: In this clip the Ovilus says "Crosses, women and alone" while Lisa and Nicole were the only ones in the cell at the time.

Moundsville Red Cell:  In this clip you hear a whisper on the audio and also a deep breath that wasn't one of the girls. In the first part they ask Red if he's afraid to talk to two girls and a guy (Lisa, Nicole & Lou) and it sounds like a faint reply, "Yeah."

Also the Video Ovilus had been acting up there then said, "Entire", Nicole repeats, "Entire what? You wasted your entire family." At that exact moment, you hear a deep sigh which wasn't anyone in the cell.  

Hallway by Cafeteria Voice  A creepy female whisper was recorded.  

New Cafeteria Humming  As Lisa and Nicole were talking about something they were apparently seeing at the time and trying to debunk it, a strange female humming sound can be heard between their talking and neither one of them react to it.  

Wagon Gate Noise:  Lisa was reading the name of the first person hanged in the gate house and a creepy whisper or breath sound can be heard.

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