Body of escaped inmate found floating in Ohio River in Kentucky, police say

The nearly week-long search for a murderer who escaped from an Ohio prison ended on Sunday when authorities confirmed that a body found floating in a Kentucky river was most likely the one of the killer.

“Today I believe we have ended our five-day manhunt,” Henderson, Ky., police chief Sean McKinney said at a news conference.

Earlier Sunday, a boater reported a body in the Ohio River, which shares Kentucky’s northern border with Indiana and Ohio, McKinney said. After his recovery, a preliminary investigation determined it was Bradley Gillespie, 50, who was last seen near the banks of the waterway, he said.

An autopsy scheduled for Tuesday will give the final word on the identity of the remains, he said. Gillespie was limping, seen on security video from an Indiana retailer, as he may have been injured in the escape, authorities said earlier.

The convict was last seen inside the Allen-Oakwood Correctional Facility in Lima, Ohio on Monday, authorities said. The following morning he and fellow inmate James Lee, 47, were reported missing after a prisoner count, they said.

Bradley Gillespie.  (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction via AP)

Bradley Gillespie. (Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction via AP)

Investigators say the two hid in a dumpster as part of their escape. Henderson is about 350 miles southwest of Lima. Authorities said the couple were also seen at a Home Depot in Evansville, Indiana, and the small town of Vincennes, Indiana, where they may have tried unsuccessfully to break into a vehicle. .

On Wednesday, police said, Gillespie and Lee were believed to have been inside an allegedly stolen vehicle that was chased by Henderson officers in the area until it crashed and the suspects drove off. flee. Lee was captured nearby, but Gillespie apparently fled and remained at large.

After the vehicle was chased, authorities swarmed the Henderson area with dozens of officers, three helicopters and bloodhounds. But on Sunday, McKinney suggested Gillespie may have drowned a few days ago, with his body lying at the bottom of the river until the weekend.

“The levels or stages of decay are consistent with a body that has been in water four to five days,” McKinney said.

Gillespie was convicted of two counts of murder and was serving two consecutive 15-life sentences after being convicted in 2016, Ohio authorities said. Lee had been convicted of burglary and other theft-related crimes, they said.

Four correctional department employees were placed on paid administrative leave amid internal and Ohio State Highway Patrol investigations into the escape.

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