In 1986, the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled that the confinement of inmates to cells smaller than 5 x 7 foot was unacceptable and constituted inhumane treatment. This effectively marked the doom of West Virginia Penitentiary which at its peak, had over 2,000 inmates and was forced to hold as many as three inmates in a single cell.
Many murders are said to have occurred within the walls of the asylum. Many however, are poorly documented.
A particular story—recounted by a housekeeper who had worked the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum—tells a time when a man was brutally murdered by two other patients living on the same floor. The man—who was a mute— struggled but could not get help. After dying from asphyxiation, he was taken down and pierced in the head by the metal leg of the bed.