Inmates escaped after hiding in dumpster; 4 officers on leave, escapee still at-large

LIMA —Two men who escaped from Allen-Oakwood Correctional Facility this week exited the prison after concealing themselves in a dumpster, according to a press release from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation & Correction on Friday evening.

As a result, four officers at Allen-Oakwood have been placed on indefinite paid leave as the investigation continues into the escape.

The press release lists Major Carl Bendross and corrections officers Taylor Robey, Tre’mon Glenn-Crawford and Lain Patterson and the prison employees now on leave so far in the investigation.

As of Friday, it has been three days since the public was notified of the escape of Bradley Gillespie and James Lee from Allen-Oakwood in Lima. While Lee was apprehended in Henderson, Kentucky, efforts by numerous agencies to track down Gillespie in Kentucky have not been successful. A joint release from ODRC, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Allen County Sheriff’s Office and the Henderson Police Department confirmed that Gillespie remains at large as of 2 p.m. Friday.

On Friday, the Ohio State Highway Patrol released a video of Gillespie’s daughter, whose name was not released, pleading for her father to turn himself in.

“Hey Dad, if you’re hearing this, I prefer you to turn yourself in before something bad happens,” she said in the video. “I want you in my life, I want you at my wedding. I don’t want anything bad to happen. So if you could please just turn yourself in before anybody gets hurt, I would appreciate it. We want you safe, we want you back. We don’t want nothing bad to happen.”

As the search for Gillespie continues in Henderson, the search for answers as to what led to this escape continues in Lima, as the ODRC continues an internal investigation into the incident. With the investigation still ongoing, the prison would not release any details into their standard procedure for monitoring prisoners other than what has already been released.

On Tuesday, Allen-Oakwood Warden Angela Hunsinger-Stuff said that, while the exact time of the escape was unknown, Gillespie and Lee had last been seen on surveillance video in the prison at 8:41 a.m. Monday.

“[On Tuesday morning] at 11:15, we were not able to clear the 11 o’clock count,” she said during the Tuesday evening press conference. “It was determined that James Lee could not be accounted for.”

Hunsinger-Stuff then approved an emergency inmate count at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, notifying the Ohio State Highway Patrol of the situation at 12:19 p.m.

“At 12:24 p.m., we notified the Allen County Sheriff, and at 12:27 p.m., we notified the Lima [Police Department],” Hunsinger-Stuff said Tuesday. “At 12:45 p.m., it was accounted that Bradley Gillespie could not be located.”

That represented a more than 26-hour time frame in which the locations of Lee and Gillespie were not known.

A release was sent to the media at 2:17 p.m. Tuesday.

With that timeline in mind, the question still remains as to where the breakdown occurred that where the two inmates, one of whom in Gillespie was incarcerated since 2010 for a double homicide in Paulding County, were able to escape. Lee had been incarcerated since 2016 on burglary, breaking and entering and safecracking charges.

“There is a discrepancy in our count issues,” Hunsinger-Stuff said Tuesday. “We do have a local policy that does say that we do seven formal counts throughout a 24-hour period. Those counts are at 9:30 p.m., 12 a.m., 2 a.m., 4 a.m., 6 a.m., 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.”

Once the duo had escaped, the two were able to steal a Mercury Capri in Auglaize County and make their way to Kentucky. Officers were alerted in Henderson, a community of just under 28,000 located about 226 miles southwest of Cincinnati on the southern bank of the Ohio River marking the border to Indiana, with Evansville, Indiana not far across the border.

Officers in Henderson spotted the vehicle and attempted to make a traffic stop, believing the two escaped inmates were in it. Lee, the driver, led police on a short chase before crashing the vehicle into a privacy fence at a residence, according to Henderson Police Chief Sean McKinney. Lee and Gillespie then fled the vehicle on foot, with Lee soon recaptured and Gillespie able to evade pursuit. Since then, law enforcement agencies from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, along with the U.S. Marshal Service and the U.S. Coast Guard, have continued the search for Gillespie, canvassing neighborhoods in Henderson as well as searching along and in the Ohio River.

“We’ve used police K-9s, we’ve used water vessels, helicopters and even drones,” McKinney said during a press conference Wednesday in Henderson.

A $21,000 reward is still available for any information leading to the capture of Gillespie. Anyone with information is asked to call the Highway Patrol Findlay post at 419-423-1414 or the U.S. Marshal Service at 1-866-4WANTED (492-6833).

Tuesday’s escape came nearly nine years after another group of inmates escaped the facility. In September 2014, T.J. Lane, Clifford Opperud and Lindsey Bruce escaped the prison but were recaptured after a six-hour search. Lane was serving three life sentences after killing three in a 2012 school shooting in Chardon.

According to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction website, Allen-Oakwood Correctional Institution is a 77-acre facility built in 1988 with a staff of 470 and an inmate population of 1,480.