Escape – 11-17-88


DISCLAIMER: These articles are copies of the original articles that are reprinted in their entirety, any omissions or corrections are not the responsibility of the WVPenTours group.


The Intelligencer Staff

November 17, 1988

Although the two inmates who escaped Wednesday afternoon from the West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville may have been model prisoners, they both were convicted of brutal murders and are considered extremely dangerous.

The two escapees are Freddie Rakes, 29 and Dickie Wimmer, 36 both serving life prison sentences without chance for parole.

On a September evening in 1981, Rakes and two accomplices, a man and a juvenile girl, decided to rob a Lincoln County man named Ernie Neal, who was in his 70’s and lived by himself on a farm.

Rake, who knew the old man, knocked on Neal’s door. Rakes said his car was struck in a ditch, and asked Neal to get his tractor to pull the car out, and as the pair walked toward Neal’s barn Rakes hit the old man over the head with a rake. Rakes then shot Neal several times and ran over the old man with a truck, twice.

It was three days before Neal’s family found his body. Rakes and his accomplices fled to North Carolina, but were apprehended and brought back to West Virginia. During his trial, it was determined Rakes had been the one who actually committed the murder, and his accomplices were allowed to plead guilty to lesser crimes.

During the trial it was also determined that Rakes altered the shotgun shells he used to shoot Neal so that the bullets would make a harder impact. Testimony from the state medical examiner revealed Neal died from loss of blood caused by the first shotgun blast – to his knee – and that the old man was still alive when Rakes ran over him in the truck.

In addition to his life-without-mercy sentence for killing Neal, Rakes was given a 75-year-sentence for the violence he used in robbing the old man. As if to ensure Rakes never would be set free, the judge ordered the 75-year-sentence be served after the life term.

Wimmer was upset because his relationship with his wife was faltering, went to an Oceana apartment where she and their two children were staying on January 15, 1979. After a confrontation with his estranged wife, Wimmer shot her to death. He also shot to death his 6-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son.

Wimmer then went to a nearby apartment and told the residents to call an ambulance, saying his wife and children were sick. Medical personnel called police after seeing the trio had been shot, and Wimmer resisted police when they arrived. He initially was charged with obstructing a police officer, but that subsequently was changed to three counts of murder.

Authorities and witnesses who testified against Rakes and Wimmer have been notified of the pair’s escape, for a state police trooper said Wimmer had threatened those who testified against him.