An intense three-day manhunt that began Tuesday morning in Putnam County, Ga., ended Thursday in rural Christiana, Tenn., which is about 50 miles southeast of Nashville.
The saga began with what could have been a scene out of a movie: 33 inmates were riding on a Georgia corrections bus as they were being driven to another prison.
Inmates Donnie Rowe and Ricky Dubose were able to get through a gate on the bus and overpower, disarm and fatally shoot two corrections officers, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills told reporters on Tuesday.
Leaving the 31 other inmates locked inside the bus, the two escapees, according to Sills, carjacked a driver who happened to pull up behind the bus on state Highway 16. The pair took the Honda Civic and began a crime spree, stealing food, clothing, money and cars to try to elude police.
Sills described them as “dangerous beyond description.”
Rowe and Dubose managed to elude police until Thursday. Law enforcement authorities in Bedford County, Tenn., say that afternoon Rowe and Dubose invaded an elderly couple’s home in Shelbyville, threatened to kill them and held them captive for three hours.
After taking clothing and valuables, the men fled in the couple’s car. A short time later the couple broke free from restraints and called police.
A high-speed chase ensued as sheriff’s deputies pursued the men for about 10 miles on Interstate 24. While the fugitives fired numerous gunshots at the deputies’ vehicle, no one was hurt. Rowe and Dubose crashed the car and ran on foot into dense woods.
Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Bill Miller says that’s when the fugitives tried to steal another vehicle. But this time, a homeowner saw the two trying to steal his car, and with help from a neighbor, held the two escapees at gunpoint.
Both of the suspects are in custody at the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office. It’s believed the two traveled to that part of Tennessee because they had family in the area.
A reward had been offered for information leading to the pair’s arrest. The amount had risen to $130,000. Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said he wasn’t sure who would get the reward.
Funerals are being planned for the slain guards: Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue, both transfer sergeants at Baldwin State Prison.
After applauding the “tireless efforts” of law enforcement, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal paid tribute to the families of the two officers killed.
“We will do everything in our power to support their loved ones, and we will not forget their sacrifice and service,” Deal said.
Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Greg Dozier said in a statement that Rowe and Dubose “will be brought to justice swiftly for their heinous crime against our Officers.”
Rowe began serving a life sentence without parole in 2002 and Dubose began serving a 20-year sentence in 2015.
Earlier in the week, Sheriff Sills in Georgia had told reporters that his biggest worry was that someone else would get killed.