Sergeant John Taylor Coax

Sergeant John Taylor Coax

Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, Pennsylvania

End of Watch Monday, February 11, 1924

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John Taylor Coax

Sergeant John Coax and Deputy Warden John Pieper 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 kill Deputy Warden Pieper and Sergeant Coax.

Local police and deputies responded to the prison. They were able to prevent the escape and assist 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 on December 27th, 1926.

Sergeant Coax had served with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections for two years. He was survived by his expectant wife, daughter, son, father, mother, and two sisters. His second daughter was born a few months later.


  • Age 29
  • Tour 2 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

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

correctional Facility, escape attempt

Most Recent Reflection

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We embark on the 100 year anniversary . This man my great grandfather, His son John T Coax Sr. aka ( Jack) my grandfather (26Sept 1922-30 April 1984) and my Father John Taylor Coax Jr. ( 5 Sept 1945-12June 1985) named after him. A man we never met. His son never grew to know him because of the malicious acts that occurred on this day. The heroic acts of John T Coax, and John A Pieper will not be forgotten. It is men like this who will continue to change the world. Thank you for your services.

Rachael Coax

February 17, 2024

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