Trooper Philip S. Kesner

Trooper Philip S. Kesner

West Virginia State Police, West Virginia

End of Watch Wednesday, November 7, 1979

Philip S. Kesner

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.


  • Age 23
  • Tour Not available
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Gun; Unknown type
  • Offender Sentenced to life

Most Recent Reflection

View all 20 Reflections

Phil, was going through some things today and saw a picture of you. My heart broke the day I heard about your murder. I can't believe that it has been almost 40 years since you were taken away. I remember all the good times we had in the great town of Franklin, of course, me being from the other side of the county I heard a lot about being from round-town. I have never forgotten you and never will. Plese keep watch over me, because I know that you are patrolling the street of heaven.

B Porter

December 13, 2017

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