2 citizens held escaped Ga. inmates at gunpoint until police arrived
A homeowner saw inmates Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe trying to steal his car and came out with a gun
By Liz Fabian
The Macon Telegraph
MADISON, Ga. — Georgia prison escapees knew their time was running out as they held a Tennessee couple at gunpoint Thursday afternoon.
Hours later, Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe, were face down on a concrete driveway with their hands bound behind their backs.
Efforts are underway to return the men to Georgia to face murder charges in the deaths of corrections officers Curtis Billue and Chris Monica, who were shot multiple times on a prison bus early Tuesday in Putnam County.
The escaped inmates’ three-day run came to an end as a homeowner held them at gunpoint when he caught them trying to steal another vehicle in Christiana, Tennessee.
The first clue the men had made it across the Georgia border came at about midday Thursday when an abandoned car was found in Bedford County.
Sheriff Austin Swing told reporters the white, Ford F-250 pickup from the last lookout had been abandoned earlier in the day in Moore County near Lynchburg.
The fugitives took another sedan, which later was left by the side of a road in Swing’s jurisdiction.
“I’m assuming and think it broke down on ‘em, but they may have decided just to ditch it,” Swing said.
Officers didn’t know at the time that the heavily tattooed men were holding a couple hostage nearby.
“They are extremely traumatized,” Swing said of the couple.
Dubose and Rowe barged into the couple’s house and put guns to both of their heads.
“They told them they would probably be dead in 24 hours and they didn’t have anything to lose,” Swing said.
The escapees tied up the couple with belt, ate some beef stew, grabbed some clothes, boots and jewelry.
The man later said he thought Rowe and Dubose would spend the night, but they only stayed a few hours.
At about 5:30 p.m., the accused killers left in the couple’s Jeep Cherokee and threatened they would be back if the couple didn’t make up a story about what happened.
About 15 minutes later, the man was able to break free and called authorities.
A new lookout on the Jeep was posted and deputies spotted the car on Interstate 24 West, about 50 miles southeast of Nashville.
The chase reached speeds of over 100 mph in “light traffic,” Sgt. Dan Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office told reporters.
“A highly dangerous situation, two extremely dangerous people, well-armed and traveling high-speed through our community was a grave concern,” Goodwin said.
Shots were fired on the officers, but deputies did not return fire, Rutherford County Sheriff Michael Fitzhugh said.
Rowe and Dubose crashed the car and ran into the woods and came upon a house at the end of a long driveway.
The homeowner saw them trying to steal his car and came out with a gun pointed at them.
He and a neighbor held them at gunpoint until authorities arrived.
The capture was a great relief to law enforcement officers across the Southeast who were hunting what Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills referred to as “vicious hoodlums” after the killing of the two officers in Sills’ territory around Eatonton, Georgia.
“I’m happy. I’m elated. I’m still tremendously sad about these officers,” a relieved Sills told reporters Thursday night.
The men are being held in Tennessee awaiting extradition back to Middle Georgia.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn expressed his gratitude for all involved in the apprehension of Dubose and Rowe without further loss of life.
“True bravery is what’s caused us to stand before you tonight to talk about a successful capture instead of a tragic incident.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
©2017 The Macon Telegraph (Macon, Ga.)