The National Park Service is seeking information in its investigation of a break-in and significant vandalism at a historic house in the town of Thurmond, W.Va., within the New River Gorge National River.
Sometime during the weekend of March 3-5, most likely on Saturday, March 4, one or more vandals entered the building, known to many as "Fatty Lipcomb’s," and damaged most of the historic items inside. The vandals destroyed doors and windows, ripped railing off the second-story porch, threw doors and furniture from the second floor out onto the ground, and spray-painted walls with graffiti and profanity.
Additionally, a road sign and two CSX Transportation train cars parked nearby were spray painted similarly.
Some of the specific spray-painted tags left behind at the scene include: Zone Boy's 440, Zone Boyz, 304-440 Gang, Cassie, Brandon, Cassie+Brandon, Pookie, Pookie not Britt, N.M., C.K., J.L., JL ♥ CK, Pook+Roop, Justine, and #FreeBriscoenotTyler.
The house is one of many structures owned by the park service in the Thurmond Historic District, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Officially listed as the "John Bullock/Roger Armandtrout House," but also known as "Fatty Lipcomb’s," the structure was constructed around 1900 and was used historically as a boarding house. It was featured in the 1987 movie "Matewan."
This house, and other park-owned historic buildings in Thurmond, underwent significant repair and stabilization work in the early 2000s. Although the interior of the houses are closed to the public, the stabilized structures allow park visitors to experience what Thurmond was like when it was bustling railroad town with many residences and businesses.
"This kind of intentional destruction is not only unlawful, but it is also very disrespectful to the community of Thurmond and to the thousands of visitors that come each year to learn more about this historic treasure," said superintendent Lizzie Watts.
"We are reaching out to the community to assist us in finding the person or people responsible for this crime."
Vandalism is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to six months in jail and fines up to $5000. Restitution for graffiti cases frequently includes a sentence of community service as well. Due to the age of the house, felony charges could also be pursued for the deliberate destruction of the historic structure as a violation of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act.
Anyone with information regarding this case is asked to contact the NPS at 304-465-6516 or Crime Stoppers of Raleigh County at 304-255-STOP (7867). The 24-hour tip line allows callers to remain anonymous. Cash rewards of up to $1000 are available to anyone providing information that leads to an arrest. Information on this crime or other violations may also be reported online at www.crimestoppersofraleighcounty.org.