Escaped Allen Oakwood inmate found dead in Ohio River

HENDERSON, Ky. — Bradley Gillespie, an inmate who escaped Allen-Oakwood Correctional Institution last week, has been found dead in the Ohio River after a multiple-day manhunt, according to officials from the Henderson Police Department in Kentucky.

Henderson Police Chief Sean McKinney held a press conference early Sunday evening saying that Gillespie’s body was found in the river after police were alerted by a member of the public who was boating on the Ohio River early Sunday.

“Today, I believe we have closure to our five-day manhunt,” McKinney said during the press conference. “We received a call about a body floating in the Ohio River very close to the last known whereabouts of Mr. Gillespie.”

Multiple agencies in Henderson responded to the scene, and after the body was recovered, it was confirmed to be Gillespie, McKinney said. No time or cause of death has yet been determined.

“There will be an autopsy performed on Tuesday,” he said.

McKinney did add that the levels of decomposition were consistent with someone who had been in the water for four to five days, but an autopsy would be needed to give a final determination on that.

While McKinney expressed gratitude to the residents of Henderson for their vigilance and relief that the search for Gillespie was over, he emphasized that any feelings of celebration should be tempered given the circumstances.

“We are glad to have closure to this situation and this event,” he said. “However, I do not feel it is appropriate to celebrate death of any life at this time.”

Gillespie, 50, and fellow inmate James Lee, 47, were able to escape the prison in Lima by concealing themselves in a dumpster, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Once their absence was discovered Tuesday morning, law enforcement began an extensive search for Gillespie and Lee. The duo had stolen a vehicle in Auglaize County and made their way to Henderson in western Kentucky by early Wednesday morning.

When officers in Henderson spotted the vehicle and believed it to be the one stolen by the two escaped inmates, they attempted to make a traffic stop. Lee, the driver, led police on a brief chase before crashing the vehicle, forcing the escapees to try to flee on foot. While Lee was immediately captured, Gillespie was able to escape, leading to a manhunt that lasted the rest of the week. Officials from Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana aided in the search, along with the U.S. Marshal’s Office and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0391 or on Twitter @cmkelly419.