Sunday, October 8, 2017

Suspicious Deaths at the Weston State Hospital (1992)

September of 1992 was a bad year for the Weston State Hospital, known today as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. Overcrowding, poor conditions, and staff issues had led to a call for the hospital to be closed by 1996, and construction on a new state hospital nearby was already in the works. These problems were intensified when two suspicious deaths happened within a month of each other.

The following article is from the 29 September 1992 issue of the Charleston Gazette newspaper:

WESTON PATIENT DIES AFTER FIGHT; SECOND DEATH WITHIN A MONTH
By Dawn Miller
Staff Writer

A patient at Weston State Hospital died Sunday night after a fight with another patient who was charged with murder five years ago, according to state police in Lewis County.

This was the second death at the mental hospital within a month.

George Edward Bodie, 46, of Parkersburg received several injuries during a late-night fight and died, apparently as a result of those injuries, said Sgt. B.B. Flanagan of the Weston detachment of the state police.  There were no weapons involved in the fight, he said.

According to police, David Michael Mason, 29, of Moundsville, also a patient at the mental hospital, tried to choke Bodie with his hands during a fight at about 11:30 p.m. on a third-floor ward.

Charges against Mason were pending until an autopsy is done and police talk to the Lewis County prosecutor, said Trooper R.W. Hyre of the Sutton detachment.

In 1987, Mason and another man were charged with first degree murder in the death of Dean Metheny, 49, and with the malicious wounding of Raymond Diller at the same time.  They were declared incompetent to stand trial in 1988.

Dr. Carole Boyd, a medical examiner in Morgantown, examined the body, but would not answer questions Tuesday afternoon, a secretary said.

Hyre said he had talked to Mason, but still didn't know what the fight was about or how it started. Mason remained at the mental hospital and was being watched Sunday night, Hyre said.

"I'm not so sure it was too much of a fight, really," Hyre said.  "There was a struggle, but they weren't standing fist to fist, fighting."

Weston Administrator Rein Valdov did not return phone calls to his office Monday.

Earlier this month, a guard found the badly decomposed boy of Brian Scott Bee, a 21-year-old patient who had disappeared eight days before.  Authorities at the time suspected the death was a suicide.

In September 1987, another patient at the 250-bed hospital was killed. 

Mental health advocate David Gettys said he and his consumer group are concerned about so many deaths. 

"What does the state plan to do about this," said Gettys, director of the West Virginia Mental Health Consumers Association. 

That group planned to meet today with Don Weston, state secretary for health and human resources.

The state has been arguing with mental health advocates and lawyers for years over whether to rebuild the Weston facility, a 19th-century building that is under court order to close by 1996.

The state is continuing with plans to build a new central mental health hospital, a major employer in Lewis County, although a court ruled that the hospital should be replaced with a network of community facilities. 


*Theresa's Note*
I don't remember either of these deaths being discussed much, if at all, during the tours and ghost hunts at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, and I don't believe there are any specific hauntings related to them. However, it is extremely interesting to note that the article mentions David Michael Mason. As the article states, David Michael Mason took part in the killing of Dean Metheny back in 1987. Although he and James Woods, his accomplice, tried to blame the death on a ghost in the room, both were charged in the murder.

"Dean's Room" is one of the haunted hot spots on the third floor. Witnesses claim that Dean, a deaf-mute in life, is known to 'speak' to investigators through the process of electronic voice phenomenon. He also enjoys communicating through other ghost hunting gadgets, turning flashlights on and off, and giving gentle hugs to visitors. I'll be posting more information about Dean's murder in a later blog, so look for that soon!*

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