Preliminary autopsy determines Ohio escapee found in river died of drowning

HENDERSON, Ky. (AP) – A convicted murderer whose body was found floating in a river several days after he and another inmate escaped from a prison in northwest Ohio died by drowning , according to preliminary autopsy results released Wednesday.

Bradley Gillespie, 50, and James Lee, 47, were reported missing May 23 from the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Lima. Authorities determined that the two men escaped by hiding in a trash can.

Lee was arrested the following day in Henderson, Kentucky, after a police chase of a stolen car the men were in ended in a crash and a foot chase, but Gillespie evaded capture. His body was spotted in the Ohio River on Sunday, not far from the area where he was last seen. Henderson is a town across the Indiana River and approximately 560 kilometers southwest of Lima.

The Henderson County Coroner’s Office, which performed the autopsy, said Gillespie’s toxicology results won’t be available for several weeks.

Gillespie has been jailed since 2016 and was convicted of a double homicide, while Lee was serving a 2021 sentence for burglary and safecracking.

A major and three prison officers have been placed on paid administrative leave, and similar action may be taken against others as the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s internal investigation continues, said officials. A criminal investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol is also underway.

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