Nelsonville Escaped Inmate: State Highway Patrol Following Leads, Search Continues

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Update 4:11 p.m.

The Pike County Sheriff’s posted an update to previous information that was deemed “unfounded,” according to a new post on their website.

The Pike County Sheriff’s Office initially said John Modie may be in a gold Jeep Grand Cherokee headed either south or toward Ross County, Ohio.


NELSONVILLE – The Ohio State Highway Patrol is following leads in the search for an inmate who escaped from a Nelsonville prison, and multiple agencies have joined the manhunt.

John Modie, 58, reportedly escaped from the Hocking Unit of the Southeastern Correctional Complex, according to officials with the Ohio Department of Correction.


“We’re following leads, but so far they’ve not been fruitful,” said Lt. George Harlow, commander of the Ohio State Highway Patrol Athens post.

Harlow could not comment on the operational aspects of the search for Modie, but said the community can help by reporting anything suspicious.

“There is no irrelevant tip,” Harlow said. “We encourage anyone if they see something, to say something.”

The commander also strongly discouraged residents from picking up “hitchhikers.”

Modie was reported missing from the correctional facility after a headcount at about 11 p.m. Sunday night, according to a release by Grant E. Doepel, deputy communications chief for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

Modie “should be considered dangerous,” according to the department release.

Investigators said Modie most likely sought shelter from the severe storms that occurred overnight and into Monday morning.

Modie is described as a white male, 6 feet 4 inches tall, weighting approximately 230 lbs. with gray hair and a gray mustache. He was last seen wearing a blue hoodie, a gray sweatshirt and blue pants.

He is currently serving 18 years to life for murder, robbery and escape. He was convicted of killing a woman in Cleveland in 2003.

“If you see any suspicious person, please try to specifically note the location and a detailed description of their clothing and physical characteristics,” Doepel wrote in the release.

Modie reportedly has family ties in Washington County.

Hocking College has closed until further notice because of the escape, but the Ohio University Police Department has said they “do not believe there is a threat to the Ohio University Athens Campus” at this time, according to Lt. Tim Ryan of OUPD.

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith said his office is in “constant contact” with the warden of the correctional facility and has offered any resources needed. He also advised that county residents take safety precautions.

“Don’t leave keys in your cars, be observant of your surroundings,” Smith said.

The sheriff said increased patrol is not planned, but that deputies will be looking out for suspicious activity and remaining “very vigilant.”

To report suspicious activity or persons, call the Ohio State Highway Patrol Athens post at (740) 593-6611 or  #677 on a mobile device.