The decrepit Virginia State Penitentiary was shut down Friday, a day after one of its last five inmates was put to death for raping and murdering a woman 12 years ago.
For the first time since the Civil War, the cells in the 190-year-old prison were empty. The last four inmates were loaded in handcuffs into a van and taken to a prison in Greensville 55 miles away.In a ceremony a few minutes later, Warden Raymond Muncy asked for the official prison population count. A few people smiled as Maj. E.T. Turner stepped forward and declared, "The count at the Virginia State Penitentiary is zero."
"Accordingly, in my capacity as warden, I now declare the Virginia State Penitentiary closed," Muncy said.
About 12 hours earlier, Buddy Early Justus was executed in the electric chair for a 1978 rape-slaying.
The antiquated prison will be torn down after the death chamber is relocated to Greensville.