Custody Officer
Charles Virgil Orem
Indiana Department of Correction
Tuesday, January 21, 1919

Age: 41
Served: 2 years
Badge #:
Not Included
Not Included

Incident Details

Cause of Death:
Date/Time of Incident:
Monday, November 19, 1917
01:30 am
Incident to Death Duration:
1 year, 63 days
Incident Location:
1410 South Clark Boulevard, Clarksville
Incident County:
Incident Township:
Weapon Used:
Blunt object
Suspect Disposition:
• Charges dismissed
• Charges dismissed
Burial Place:
Walnut Ridge Cemetery, Jeffersonville

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   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. The Indiana Supreme Court later ruled that since death did not occur within one year and one day, common law prevailed and the murder charges were dismissed in December 1920.

   The 17-year-old inmate was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill and the 22-year-old inmate was charged with accessory before the fact, however, those charges were also dismissed in March 1922.

   Custody Officer Orem, from Jeffersonville, was survived by his wife, three sons, two sisters and three brothers.

Historic Place

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.
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This officer, discovered in 2008, has not been submitted for consideration as an eligible line of duty death to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund by the Indiana Department of Correction.

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Custody Officer Charles Virgil Orem - Indiana Department of Correction -