The nearly week-long search for a killer who escaped from an Ohio prison ended Sunday when authorities confirmed that a body found floating in a Kentucky river is likely that of the killer.
“Today I think we have wrapped up our five-day manhunt,” Sean McKinney, police chief in Henderson, Kentucky, said at a news conference.
Early Sunday, a boater reported a body in the Ohio River, which shares Kentucky’s northern border with Indiana and Ohio, McKinney said. After it was recovered, preliminary investigation determined it was Bradley Gillespie, 50, who was last seen near the banks of the canal, he said.
An autopsy scheduled for Tuesday will give the final word on the identity of the remains, he said. Gillespie was limping, as seen on security video from a retailer in Indiana, because he may have been injured during the getaway, authorities previously said.
The convict was last seen inside the Allen-Oakwood Correctional Institution in Lima, Ohio, on Monday, authorities said. The next morning, he and his fellow inmate James Lee, 47, were determined missing after a prisoner count, they said.
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 had also been seen at a Home Depot in nearby Evansville, Indiana, and in the small town of Vincennes, Indiana, where they may have unsuccessfully attempted to break into a vehicle.
On Wednesday, police said, Gillespie and Lee are believed to be inside an allegedly stolen vehicle that was pursued by Henderson officers in the area until it crashed and the suspects fled. Lee was captured nearby, but Gillespie apparently fled and remained on the run.
After the vehicle was pursued, authorities invaded the Henderson area with dozens of officers, three helicopters and bloodhounds. But on Sunday, McKinney suggested that Gillespie may have drowned days ago and that his body remained at the bottom of the river until the weekend.
“The levels or stages of decomposition are consistent with a body that has been in the water for four to five days,” McKinney said.
Gillespie was convicted of two counts of murder and was serving two consecutive 15-to-life sentences following the 2016 sentencing, Ohio authorities said. Lee had been convicted of robbery and other robbery-related crimes, they said.
Four corrections department employees were placed on paid administrative leave amid internal and Ohio State Highway Patrol investigations into the breakout.