Preliminary autopsy released in Henderson manhunt

Preliminary autopsy released in Henderson manhunt
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 6:47 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Bradley Gillespie’s autopsy shows not only how he died, but it gives an idea of when and where he went into the Ohio River.

It’s been a long, difficult week for first responders in Henderson.

”It was something that doesn’t happen very often,” said Henderson Police Lieutenant John Nevels.

Henderson Police say they spent days searching for an escaped convict, but they weren’t alone.

They say other cities sent dogs, helicopters, officers, information, and more to help in the search until they eventually found the body of Bradley Gillespie in the Ohio River.

”We were amazed at how many people that reached out and came out to help,” said Nevels.

[Previous: Henderson residents relieved hunt for Bradley Gillespie is over]

Henderson Police say a medical examiner confirmed Gillespie drowned in the river.

They say after they retrieved his body, they matched two of his tattoos to reports of Gillespie. The examiner confirmed more of the tattoos during the autopsy.

They say decomposition made it hard for them to confirm his fingerprints, but they will be consulting an expert to double-check Wednesday morning.

They say Gillespie’s body may have drifted a bit in the river, but where they found it says a lot about where he may have gone in.

”My experience with drownings in the past is normally where the body comes up, it’s pretty close to where they go in the water,” said Nevels. “So it does look like he probably went in at Hays Boat Ramp, but I don’t know if there’s any way anybody can tell you 100%.”

The other escaped convict, James Lee, made his first court appearance Tuesday as well. Lee waived his right to an extradition hearing, so he will be voluntarily returning to Ohio. Before then, he will face a grand jury to determine if he will face charges here for running from police.

Henderson Police say they’re grateful to have the search behind them.

”We’re just glad it’s over,” said Nevels. “We’re sorry somebody drowned, lost their life, but we are really glad that something even worse didn’t happen.”

Henderson Police say it’s a good thing they found Gillespie in the river at all. They say they have cases where people have jumped into the river and police are unable to find them.

James Lee, the man who authorities say escaped with Bradley Gillespie, was back in court Tuesday.

During the hearing, Lee waived his right to an extradition hearing- so he will be going back to Ohio to face escape charges.

But before that, a grand jury is set to meet June 27 to decided whether he will face charges here.