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Trooper Philip S. Kesner | West Virginia State Police, West Virginia West Virginia State Police, West Virginia


Philip S. Kesner

West Virginia State Police, West Virginia

End of Watch: Wednesday, November 7, 1979

Bio & Incident Details

Age: 23

Tour: Not available

Badge # Not available

Cause: Gunfire

Weapon: Gun; Unknown type

Offender: Sentenced to life

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Trooper Philip Kesner was shot and killed during a prison break from the West Virginia State Penitentiary in Moundsville, West Virginia. Trooper Kesner, who was off duty, was driving past the prison with his wife at the same time that 15 prisoners escaped from the prison. Trooper Kesner was pulled from his car by some of the prisoners and shot as he attempted to take action. Although mortally wounded, Trooper Kesner was able to return fire at the fleeing suspects.

The suspect who shot Trooper Kesner was in jail for the murder of Sergeant David Lilly, of the Beckley Police Department, on May 12, 1975. The suspect shot Trooper Kesner with a service weapon stolen from one of the prison guards during the escape.

The man remained on the run for two years, during which time he murdered a man in Arizona during a robbery. The suspect finally arrested in 1981 in New York City following a shootout with federal agents. He was returned to West Virginia to complete several life sentences.

Trooper Kesner was survived by his wife.

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Related Line of Duty Deaths

Sergeant David Lee Lilly
Beckley Police Department, West Virginia
End of Watch: Monday, May 12, 1975
Cause: Gunfire

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Most Recent Reflection

I met Phil kesner as what today's generation call a twener, we met at a Christian youth group. His best friend was dating my older sister's best friend and they allowed me to tag along to the youth group run by a fantastic man Rev Nolls. He would truck us up a mtn between Franklin and Petersburg. We I first saw Phillip I was about 13 and he wast around 17 and I fell head over heels in love and must have made an embarrassing nuisance of myself. He treated me with the utmost kindness and respect and never once made me feel embarrassed about my feelings for him. The day my sister called me to tell me of his death a part of my heart died that day. I remember that love and miss him everyday.

Kristy Lantz Morgan
February 24, 2015


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