Deputy Warden John August Pieper

Deputy Warden John August Pieper

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Pennsylvania

End of Watch Monday, February 11, 1924

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John August Pieper

Deputy Warden John Pieper and Sergeant John Coax were shot and killed during an attempted prison escape at Western Penitentiary (modern-day SCI Pittsburgh).

The escape attempt started when a gas main exploded near the prison's front gates. In the ensuing panic of the prisoners fleeing towards the prison's yard, a guard was disarmed. The inmates used the weapon to shoot and killed Deputy Warden Pieper and Sergeant Coax.

Local police and deputies responded to the prison and were able to prevent the escape and assisted with bringing the situation under control. Five inmates were charged with first-degree murder. Two were acquitted. Each of the other three was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder. One received the death penalty and was executed December 27th, 1926.


  • Age 35
  • Tour 3 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Officer's weapon
  • Offender Executed in 1926

escape attempt

Most Recent Reflection

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Deputy Warden Pieper,
On today, the 100th anniversary of your death I would just like to say thank you for your service and sacrifice for the citizens of the state of Pennsylvania. There is no tougher job in Law Enforcement than that of a Corrections Officer.

BPA Mike Casey
United States Border Patrol(Retired)

February 11, 2024

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