EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSATTEMPTED PRISON ESCAPE
from Eyewitness News Online
Prison Escape Plan Foiled For Three Convicted Murderers, Human Error To Blame
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Also Contributing: Bob Aaron, Associated Press
Reported: Jul. 18, 2012 3:03 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 23, 2012 1:01 PM EDT
Mount Olive , West Virginia
A botched head count preceded the recent escape attempt by three convicted murderers at West Virginia's maximum security prison.
Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein told legislators on Monday that human error played a role in last week's incident at Mount Olive Correctional Complex.
Rubenstein said a 10 p.m. head count on July 17 failed to reveal that William Keith "Bobby" Lowe, Daniel Smith and Stephen Wilson weren't in their units.
The commissioner said officers didn't discover they were missing until a final 11:30 p.m. head count.
Rubenstein said the inmates were then located and captured on the 82-acre complex within about 15 minutes. He stressed to lawmakers that the three did not breach any outer security measures and the nearby community was never in danger. An internal investigation is ongoing.
Three murderers attempt to bust out of prison, but their plan doesn't get them very far.
"Their attempt was going to be to escape from the Mount Olive Correctional Complex," explains Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein. An attempt that quickly fell apart for Keith Lowe, Daniel Smith, and Stephen Wilson.
Lowe is serving a life sentence for beating Roy Lloyd to death in 2003 at the Rustic Motel in Jefferson. His body was found sealed in a garbage can in the Kanawha River.
In 2005, after his conviction, he also tried to escape the South Central Regional Jail.
Daniel Smith and Stephen Wilson were convicted in 2009 of murdering Huntington Reverend Mark McCalla at a Wayne County shooting range.
All three likely spending the rest of their lives at Mount Olive, and not afraid to try and escape the 82-acre complex.
"Within about 20 to 30 minutes though, all three were secured, and totally in our custody and placed in the segregation unit," said Rubenstein.
Rubenstein says there is an internal investigation in to how the three got out of their housing units in the first place. He says they tried to run when spotted, but never got off the perimeter of the complex.
"It appears there's some human error on our part in our facility that the internal investigation will uncover. We'll take corrective action as well as any other type of action that needs to be," said Rubenstein.
Lillian Wiseman lives near the Fayette County facility and says she's not concerned for her safety.
"It's a pretty secure prison I think. It's down in a hole, there's barbed wire all over the top of the fence. They'd have to be pretty good to get out to to start with," she said.
A foiled prison escape, that's likely to bring some changes in security.
"The facility was still secure during all of this and there was never a threat to the community or the county or the surrounding areas of Mount Olive," said Rubenstein.
State police are also investigating. More charges could be filed against the three men.
Three convicted murders are caught on prison grounds after attempting to escape from the Mount Olive Correctional Complex in Fayette County.
The West Virginia Division of Corrections identify the men as Keith Lowe, Stephen Wilson, and Daniel Smith.
The men were found on the grounds just minutes after their attempted escape at 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Lowe is convicted of killing Roy Glen Loyd in room 127 at the Rustic Motel in Jefferson. Loyd's body was discovered sealed in a plastic garbage can along the Kanawha River in 2003.
Wilson and Smith are convicted of robbing and killing Pastor Mark McCalla at a shooting range in Wayne County in 2008.
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