1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


FRW Memories
You Know some Things are Just Sad
But Good
John McCurdy '09

            Sometimes things occurred in prison that illustrated the best in people.

            Villy Weathern was a generally good natured inmate who was serving a life sentence for murder. Now that is not a Federal Crime and Villy would not have been at Alderson's Federal Reformatory for Women except that the person she killed was a federal employee and she did the killing on a government reservation!

            She was from Tennessee, a farm girl, uneducated and in fact, just a little bit on the slow side. She had married a fellow farm boy, lost their first baby and was unable to have more.  They lived a hard life, tenant farming, doing other folks housework, but they stayed together and they survived.

            Came World War 2 and her country boy husband was drafted and went to war, did a good job, got a few promotions and was allowed to remain in service afterward. Made Sergeant in fact, and was sent to Germany with the occupation forces. Villy went also, they lived in government housing, in a little house and even had a housekeeper.  The life was better than anything they had ever experienced, living was cheap, and the beer was good, Villy even gained a few pounds.

            They made friends with other Non-Coms and occasionally went to parties and other social affairs although Villie was not socially adept.

            They were at a party at a local Beer Garden and when someone told Villie that her  country boy sweetheart husband was having an affair with another sergeants wife,  She started being a lot more observant  and, sure enough, saw enough to convince her the story was true.

            They returned to their home and sometime in the early morning, Villie went to the back porch and got the hatchet she used to cut wood for stove kindling. Back into the bedroom she came and proceeded to chop her husband's head off. She lay beside him, holding him, until morning and then she called the Military Police and told them what she had done! 

            The Statute of Forces Agreement was in place and Virgie was not tried by the German authorities, but by the military. She received a Life Sentence.

            Villy was at the prison when I came to work there and was sort of like wall paper, she was there but almost unnoticed, she was completely unremarkable, never any trouble, went to work each day without a grumble. Rarely asked for anything, got along well with others, never had a visitor, never got a letter, (or mailed one), never made a phone call. Was sorta like, as I said, wallpaper!

          Villie met every Parole Board she was eligible for and without fail was told, "not this time".  She took it in stride.  In the 1960's, she, and her Case Manager Jeanne Allen were amazed to hear the Board say, "yes"!

            Seems Villie had a brother in Tennessee, who had never written or communicated in any way with her during her incarceration. His wife had died, and he needed a housekeeper and a cleaning lady and a cook, and where would he ever find a cheaper one. He wrote to Villie and she agreed and suddenly after all these years she had a place to go!

Now Jeanne Allen could actually propose a Release Plan that might be approved. It was, Villie was gonna get out and be free woman again!

            Remember now, Villie was not the brightest person, she had been in prison since the mid-forties and a lot had happened in the world since then. She had never seen; a shopping mall, a drive-in, an elevator or an escalator, and even a grocery store with a check-out counter was new too her. Mrs. Allen made arrangement to take Villie to Roanoke for a day trip and asked me to go along. I was delighted she asked me. It was as if we were witness to a new birth, Villie was confused, frightened by the crowds and traffic, she would have been completely overwhelmed if we had not been there to support her. I think Mrs. Allen, in her wisdom, took Villie out one more time before the day when her brother, in his pickup truck, came to take his sister back home to Tennessee