Furtropolis by Outward Hound

Dog Sentenced to Life Without Parole in Haunted Prison

The Eastern State Penitentiary is considered to be one of the most haunted buildings in America. Built by Quakers in 1829 and closed in 1971, this prison has a dark history of murder, suicide, madness, disease, and torture.

Photo by John Van Horn, Courtesy Eastern State Penitentiary

While one of its most famous residents was Al “Scarface” Capone, it was a four-legged prisoner that made national headlines in December 1925: Pep, the black lab.

“Gov Pinchot’s Dog, Serving Life Sentence for Killing a Cat, Broadcasts from Penitentiary,” reads the headline on the Boston Daily Globe.

Pep wore his inmate number around his neck for the most adorable mugshot in history.

pep the prison dog
Courtesy Eastern State Penitentiary

Before you feel bad for Pep, it turns out the whole thing was fabricated. Gov. Pinchot’s wife later told The New York Times that Pep never killed a cat and was actually “a gift to the prisoners to boost morale.”

Pep spent his life wandering around the prison halls freely to the delight of both inmates and prison guards.

You can learn more about Pep and the prison’s history (and hauntings) on a tour of the penitentiary, which has hosted historic tours since the early 90s.

Happy spooky season!