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The Ruble file

A Lowell man arrested Tuesday for the 1981 murder Lt. Ray “Joe” Clark went on to become a well-regarded corrections officer for the state decades after Clark fired him from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for mistreating a suspect.

Mitchell Ruble, 63, of 4000 State Route 530, was hired at Noble Correctional Institute (NCI) in 1996 where he earned several accolades, including recognition as the facility’s Corrections Officer of the Year, before retiring in 2010.

“Thank you for a great 14 1/2 years at NCI,” Ruble wrote in his letter informing the facility of his retirement. “Now I am really looking forward to “My Time”.”

Ruble spent his 14-plus years at the facility as a corrections officer, confirmed JoEllen Smith, spokeswoman for the Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

“The main responsibility of a corrections officer is providing security for the facility,” she said.

Ruble is in the Washington County Jail in lieu of a $2.5 million bond on a charge of aggravated murder. A request for Ruble’s personnel records at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is pending.

According to his application for employment with the state, Ruble had served in Vietnam in the airborne infantry of the United States Army and was certified by the National Rifle Association as a police firearms instructor in 1975.

He worked at the Washington County Sheriff’s Office from June 1973 until December 1979 when he reported he left for a “better job.”

Authorities with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office declined to elaborate Friday on the incident over which Ruble was fired by Clark. Lt. Jeff Seevers, who led the investigation that resulted in Ruble’s arrest said Wednesday the incident had involved Ruble becoming overly rough with a suspect in handcuffs.

The sheriff’s office believes Ruble’s termination provided some of his motive for the shooting. However, a separate incident hours before Clark’s murder on Feb. 7, 1981 ultimately triggered the event, Seevers said.

Smith said in an e-mail that the department checks references “on a case by case basis and at the discretion of the managing director of a facility.”

According to Ruble’s application, he left the sheriff’s office to work as a carpenter for Heinrich Enterprise in Reno and went on to join a Parkersburg millwright union in June of 1980 where he worked until hired by NCI in July 1996.

Ruble’s annual personnel reviews from NCI are consistently glowing.

“Officer Ruble is an excellent officer. He is reliable and he’s done well above what is expected of him,” wrote his reviewer in 1998.

He received at least two acknowledgments as Corrections Officer of the Month in 2001 and 2006 and was the Corrections Officer of the Year for the facility in 2002.

His file lists only one reprimand. In 2006 he allowed an employee that had firearms restrictions to participate in firearms training.

Upon his retirement in December 2010, Ruble was earning $20.86 per hour at the department.