Escaped inmate found dead inside Harrowgate warehouse, authorities say

Gino Hagenkotter
Philadelphia Department of Prisons

An inmate who escaped from a State Road jail two weeks ago was found dead of a suspected drug overdose inside a Harrowgate warehouse, authorities said.

Officers were called to the warehouse, on the 1100 block of E. Venango Street, at around 2:30 p.m. Monday for a report of an unresponsive man, police said. No identification was found, and Hagenkotter’s body was transported to the Medical Examiner’s Officer, who used fingerprint analysis to identify him Tuesday, according to the PPD.

Investigators found a broken air vent and a pushed-out fan, suggesting forced entry, and a ladder was found nearby, police said. Hagenkotter cause of death was accidental drug overdose, according to the MEO.

Hagenkotter, 34, who was serving time on theft and burglary charges, was working in the orchard on the grounds of the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center on Nov. 30 when he asked the guard assigned to him for permission to use the bathroom, Philadelphia Department of Prisons Commissioner Blanche Carney said at the time. The guard checked the restroom when Hagenkotter failed to return, but he wasn’t there, officials said.

He scaled a fence, walked through a city sanitation department yard next to the prison, took off his jumpsuit and was last seen on surveillance video walking down the street, according to Deputy Police Commissioner Frank Vanore.

escaped inmate
This surveillance image shows escaped inmate Gino Hagenkotter.U.S. Marshals Service

Hagenkotter was due to be released from the nearby Riverside Correctional Facility into a transitional program on the day of his escape. But officials canceled the transfer after learning he had open retail theft charges in suburban Bucks County, and told Hagenkotter he would continue serving time at Riverside until April, Carney said. She said officials believe that played a role in his decision to escape.

He is the fourth person to escape custody in city jails this year.

In May, two men, including one charged with four counts of murder, escaped from Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center by slipping through a gap that had been cut into a chain-link fence. The men were gone for nearly 19 hours before officials knew they were missing. Both were recaptured.

A woman briefly escaped the same jail in September by scaling two fences topped by razor wire.

The Philadelphia Department of Prisons has been dealing with a severe staffing shortage – with around 40% of correctional officer positions unfilled – and is being monitored by a federal court as part of a settlement stemming from a class action lawsuit brought by inmates over prison conditions.

Cathleen Beltz, a court-appointed monitor in the case, filed a report in October saying, in part, that “the situation is dire, and PDP should expect more critical incidents as long as it persists.”

Metro reporter Jack Tomczuk contributed to this article.