Incident DetailsCause of Death:
Custody Officer Charles Orem died from injuries he suffered 14 months earlier after being assaulted during an escape attempt at the Indiana Reformatory in Clarksville.
Two male inmates had been called out of their cells in the evening to repair a motor in one of the wells at the institution. Their intent was to escape and believed Custody Officer Orem possessed the keys to an engineering vault containing ropes and pulleys.
As Custody Officer Orem returned to the area where the inmates were working, he was struck about his head with a heavy piece of iron and beaten nearly unconscious.
He was able to return to work performing light duties after six weeks, but developed a worsening paralytic condition about a month before he died at home on his 41st birthday.
The 17-year-old inmate was serving time for petit larceny after having been sentenced in Decatur County and the 22-year-old inmate was serving time for felony burglary after having been sentenced in Vanderburgh County.
After their escape attempt, they were transferred to the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City where they were charged with first-degree murder.
Custody Officer Orem was survived by his wife, three sons, two sisters and three brothers.
The Indiana State Prison South/Indiana Reformatory/Colgate-Palmolive Historic District consists of 18 contributing buildings dating to 1847 and is roughly bounded by Clark Boulevard, Montgomery Avenue, Missouri Avenue and the CSX railroad tracks. The district was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 13, 2019 and listed on the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures on January 16, 2019.