MARSHALL COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) – Between the changing leaves and the cooler temperatures, it’s hard to deny the natural beauty of the autumn season. But this time of year also has a very spooky side to it as well.
So, to get into the Halloween spirit, I traveled out to the Whitegate Cemetery in Moundsville, also called “the Tomb of the Unclaimed Prisoner.” It was constructed back in 1898 and serves as the final resting place for 256 prisoners who perished within the walls of the West Virginia Penitentiary.
“This land was actually purchased by the city of Moundsville because the prisoners were not permitted to be buried within city limits.”Tracy Johnston, Belmont County Spirit Seekers
During the day, the Whitegate Cemetery looks almost idyllic. It’s hard to believe that buried just a few feet under this picturesque fall landscape are the bodies of men so vile no one would lay claim to their corpses.
At night, though, the cemetery has a much different vibe, and it’s not hard to see why officials took the supernatural into account when they built it.
“It was purchased because there was running water. There’s a creek or small stream that runs through here, and the thought was that the prisoners, the spirits, cannot cross water, especially running water.”Tracy Johnston, Belmont County Spirit Seekers
For this ghost hunt, I am joined once again by Tracy Johnston and Tamara Hess of the Belmont County Spirit Seekers.
Tonight, we’re looking to communicate with two men in particular. The first is a man named Frank Hyer, who was executed for beating his wife Eva to death in 1930.
“When they actually went to hang him, when the door dropped open, when he fell they actually decapitated him in front of the public.”Tamara Hess, Belmont County Spirit Seekers
The grisly scene was the final nail in the coffin for public executions. Frank’s execution on June 19th of 1931, would be West Virginia’s last.
The second man is perhaps Whitegate’s most infamous resident. A serial killer named Harry Powers.
“They called him the Blue Beard of Quiet Dell, West Virginia. The claim is that he actually murdered 55 women. He was accused and found guilty of one murder, they know definitely of 5.”Tamara Hess, Belmont County Spirit Seekers
Powers would meet women using “lonely hearts” ads in the newspapers. Once he would get the women infatuated, he was said to torture them to get their financial details, drain their bank accounts, and then strangle them. When it came to Asta Eicher, he also killed her three young children.
The Spirit Seekers brought along some special equipment to try and communicate with these men. We tried a few different methods, including a laser grid.
“It shows if there is anything that walks through that or breaks that laser grid, it actually shows that there’s something breaking into those lights. So it shows that there’s something there.”Tracy Johnston, Belmont County Spirit Seekers
But we didn’t get results until we broke out the SLS camera, which scans the area and maps any bodies it can see. And this time, we got a hit. A strange figure was detected by Tracy’s feet.
So, was that figure Harry Powers? Some other ghost? A ghost in the machine? No idea. But it doesn’t really matter. Sometimes, it’s just fun to hang out in a graveyard and get up to some spooky things.