While combing through old books in the genealogy room at the Point Pleasant library, I came across an old photo album containing news clippings that gave me pause. The subject of those clippings was the Mason County (WV) Jail bombing in 1976.
Harriet Sisk confessed to the strangulation death of her two month old daughter, Davi Colline, on Feb 29, 1976. In her confession she noted that the baby had been crying after she tripped and fell while carrying her. Afterward, it was determined the child suffered from ongoing abuse. The investigation was brought on as a result of the child’s grandfather calling the police department to report her missing on Feb 28th. Authorities would find the body of the child in a shallow grave that was dug by Sisk and her husband, Bruce.
Harriet Sisk was taken to the Mason County jail to await trial. Four days later, her husband would use a shotgun to force his way into the jail. He told the jailer he wanted to be in the cell with his wife. Once in the cell, the door was locked behind him.
Once secured in the cell, the jail was evacuated. Bruce Sisk had carried a suitcase into the cell. Originally it was thought that Sisk used his shotgun to shoot the suitcase in which he had carried an estimated fifteen pounds of dynamite. It was later determined that he used an electric blasting cap ignited by a flashlight battery. His action created an explosion that took his and his wife’s life immediately as well as the life of the local sheriff.
In all, three officers lost their lives and an additional eleven people were injured. Sheriff Pete Wedge, Deputy Kenneth Love and Jailer Ernest Hesson would die as a result of the intentional bombing.
Authorities would later find a suicide note in the couple’s trailer in which a suicide pact was laid out. The shotgun would be tied back to a mid-February Mason County burglary. The dynamite had stolen from a construction company where Bruce Sisk was once employed.
The Sisks had a second child, 18 month old Michael, who was taken by social workers during the arrest.
Newspaper articles on the bombing:
Elvin E. “Pete” Wedge
March 7, 1976
150 Officers Attend Rite For Sheriff
POINT PLEASANT. W.Va.
More than 150 law enforcement officers attended the funeral service Saturday for Mason County Sheriff Elvin “Pete” Wedge.
The 48-year-old Wedge and three other persons were killed in an explosion at the Mason County jail late Tuesday.
Authorities said Bruce Sisk 19, had set off the dynamite after he forced his way into the jail to see his wife, Harriet. 18. who had been charged with murdering the
couple’s two-year-old daughter.
Both the Sisks, along with Deputy Kenneth Love, were also killed. About 400 persons attended services for Wedge at the funeral home.
Burial was at the Creston Cemetery about 21 miles north
Officers from the West Virginia State Police, the Ohio Highway Patrol, seven Mountain State cities, one Ohio municipality, six West Virginia county sheriff’s detachments and one Ohio sheriff’s department were represented.
The Rev. Bryan Blair, pastor of the Bell meade United Methodist Church, said Wedge gave his life “that others might live.” He urged that we “think about the men who take that risk everyday.”
KENNETH WARD LOVE
Deputy Kenneth Love, Jailer Ernest Hesson, and Sheriff Elvin Wedge were killed when a bomb exploded inside the Mason County Courthouse. The suspect entered the Mason County Jail armed with a shotgun and suitcase, and forced his way into the jail cell of his wife, who was in custody for the murder of their child. The suspect stated he wished to spend the night with his wife, and while talking to Sheriff Wedge fired at the suitcase, which contained approximately 30 sticks of dynamite, causing a massive explosion.
Deputy Love, who was on duty at the courthouse that night, was killed instantly. Sheriff Wedge succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the blast the next day. Jailer Ernest Hesson succumbed to his injuries one week later. The suspect and his wife were also killed instantly.
Deputy Love was survived by his wife, two children, father and two siblings.