24 Oct

Prisoner #39159

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Actor Greg Ritchie as Frank Ferroni, Jr.

Those who attended our 7th season of Candlelight Tours in 2014 may remember the dramatic scene about the escaped convict Frank Ferroni. Actor Greg Ritchie portrayed Ferroni, in a script written by Dawn Fields Wise, titled “Her Soul Turned Gray.”

ferroni1926LCDFrank Ferroni, Jr., (born c.1905) was an auto mechanic at his father’s shop in Lynchburg when, in 1934, he was arrested for murdering Raymond Warren Johnson. Johnson is buried in Old City Cemetery.

Ferroni escaped from the Lynchburg City Jail before his trial. He remained a fugitive for three years until 1937, when he was finally apprehended in Boston, Massachusetts. A restaurant waiter there recognized his picture in a popular detective magazine. Court records indicate Ferroni was finally convicted of Johnson’s murder in 1937 and sentenced to 20 years in the state penitentiary. The 2014 tour program stated, “It is not known what happened to Ferroni after he was sent to the state penitentiary.”

Since then, we have discovered a few more pieces of the Frank Ferroni “puzzle.” We found his mug shots from the Virginia State Penitentiary, which are now in the archives of the Library of Virginia in Richmond. Prison records show he was paroled in either 1944 or 1947, perhaps for medical reasons. Unfortunately, that’s where Ferroni escapes us again. Extensive research has not turned up what happened to him after his release.

We recently located a descendant of one of Ferroni’s brothers who lives in the Lynchburg area. She told us that not much was known in the family about Frank, Jr., other than the oral history that he “ran off and joined the circus.”

So, the mystery of Frank Ferroni continues. If you can add any more information about him, please let us know!

—Ted Delaney, Executive Director

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Lynchburg, Virginia 24501

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