POLICE: Body pulled from Ohio River is believed to be escaped Lima inmate

Bradley Gillespie
Bradley Gillespie(Henderson Police Department)
Published: May. 28, 2023 at 5:33 PM EDT
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HENDERSON, KY (WPTA) - Officials with the Henderson Police Department say they believe a body pulled from the Ohio River Sunday is that of escaped Ohio inmate Bradley Gillespie.

During a news conference, officials say a preliminary investigation shows they recovered the body of Bradley Gillespie.


Police were called to the Henderson riverfront after a body was found floating Sunday. Officials say identifiers match Gillespie and an autopsy is set for Tuesday in Madisonville.

RELATED: ‘There’s a major time lapse here’ Prison officials unsure when, how Lima inmates escaped, One escapee from Lima prison arrested in KY, search for convicted killer continues, Day 2: HPD does neighborhood sweeps in search for escaped murderer, WATCH LIVE: Henderson Police Dept. provides update on day 3 of manhunt

Police say Bradley Gillespie, 50, and James Lee, 47, escaped the Allen Oakwood Correctional Facility.

A prison official said Tuesday night the two inmates were last seen on prison security cameras around 8:40 Monday morning. Prison workers noticed James Lee was not accounted for during the routine inmate counts around 11:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. Officials held an emergency headcount at 11:45 a.m. that day and notified authorities of his absence around 12:30 p.m. It wasn’t until 12:45 p.m. Tuesday that prison workers noticed Gillespie had also escaped.

Gillespie and Lee escaped from the institution by concealing themselves in a dumpster. According to the Ohio Department of Corrections, four employees have been placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation is underway.

After escaping the prison, the pair stole a car in Auglaize County, Ohio. Henderson Police said during Sunday’s news conference they believe Gillespie and Lee broke in and stole a woman’s purse in Vincennes, Indiana, and traveled south.

Early Wednesday morning Henderson Police say they were notified of a stolen vehicle. They say they believed Gillespie and Lee were inside when they spotted it. Police attempted to pull the vehicle over but the car kept going. After a pursuit, the car crashed on Henderson’s north side and began the manhunt. Lee was arrested while Gillespie remained on the run.

For days, investigators from multiple agencies searched for Gillespie. At the time Henderson Police officials said they used “all of its manpower and investigating all information to find him.”

Gillespie was convicted in 2016 for the Paulding County murders of Hanna Fischer, 21, and Frank Tracy, 47. Lee was convicted of safecracking, breaking and entering, burglary, and judicial sanction.

A reward of $30,000 was offered for information that led to Gillespie’s capture. Police say a boater found the body on Sunday. At this time, officials aren’t sure if they will receive that reward.