The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 19, 2012

Officers thwart escape from Mount Olive prison complex

Three convicted murderers

MOUNT OLIVE — Three inmates attempted to escape Mount Olive Correctional Complex Tuesday night, but were quickly detained by correctional officers.

Jim Rubenstein, commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Corrections, said the incident happened around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday when staff noticed that three inmates were not in their assigned housing area.

Keith Lowe, Daniel Smith and Stephen Wilson were attempting to escape the maximum security facility, according to Rubenstein.

Within 15 to 20 minutes, the individuals were located on the grounds at Mount Olive and taken into custody. They are now being housed in a segregation unit.

Lowe, of Kanawha County, was imprisoned for first degree murder and was given a sentence of life without mercy. Smith, of Wayne County, was also imprisoned for first degree murder, but was given a sentence of life with mercy. Wilson, of Wayne County, is serving two consecutive terms for second degree murder and second offense first degree robbery.

Rubenstein said an internal investigation is being conducted to determine how these individuals attempted their escape. Although the investigation is in the early stages, Rubenstein said there “may have been some human error on our part.”

He said during the attempted escape, other inmates were not in danger, nor were surrounding areas, because of the design of the complex.

For the individuals to breach the security fences would have been “very highly unlikely because of the nature of the facility.”

The West Virginia State Police will also be conducting an investigation.

Rubenstein said the three individuals may be facing charges in Fayette County for their attempted escape.

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com

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