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Three murderers try to escape from Mount Olive

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Three convicted murderers tried to escape from Mount Olive Correctional Complex in Fayette County Tuesday night, the state prisons commissioner said.

The three men didn't get far on the maximum-security prison's grounds. They were captured about 15 minutes after they got away from their holding units, said Corrections Commissioner Jim Rubenstein.

William Keith "Bobby" Lowe, 38; Daniel Smith, 26; and Stephen Wilson, 23, were being held Wednesday in a segregation unit pending a internal investigation by the state Division of Corrections, Rubenstein said.

Around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, correctional officers noticed the three men weren't in their assigned units during a scheduled head count. The men had managed to get out of the unit, or pod, and made it to another location inside the facility.

They were apprehended without incident, Rubenstein said.

"It certainly appears their intent was to breach the security systems and escape," he said. "I'd like to stress that our facility is always secure and the community was safe and not in danger."

Rubenstein said the complex sits on 82 acres of land surrounded by correctional guard watchtowers. The nearest community of Montgomery is seven miles away.

State Police are also investigating and will contact Fayette County prosecutors to determine if additional charges will be filed against the men, he said.

Lowe is serving a life sentence on a 2005 first-degree murder conviction. He was convicted of clubbing Roy Glen Loyd, 55, of Flatwoods, to death at the Rustic Motel in Jefferson on Oct. 19, 2003. Police said Lowe stuffed Loyd's body into a garbage can and then dumped it along the Kanawha River. Lowe unsuccessfully tried to escape from South Central Regional Jail at the end of 2005.

Smith and Wilson were convicted in 2009 for the slaying of Huntington Rev. Mark McCalla, 48. Authorities said the two men were AWOL from the Army when they shot McCalla in the head at a Cabell County firing range on June 18, 2008. The motive was apparently robbery because McCalla's wallet and two firearms were missing, prosecutors said.

Smith was convicted of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery and is serving a life sentence with the chance of parole in 2023. Wilson was convicted of second-degree murder and first-degree robbery and is scheduled to be released in 2088, at the age of 100.

Reach Travis Crum at travis.crum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5163.


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