MAN HUNT ENDS

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By Tia Lynn Ivey

managing editor

The two armed, escaped prison inmates who led authorities on a harrowing search last week through Madison were apprehended alive on Thursday, June 15 in Tennessee.

According to authorities, Ricky Dubose, 24, and Donnie Russell Rowe, 44, waved their shirts in surrender to police after a high-speed chase through Rutherford County, Tennessee. Shots were fired at police during the pursuit, which reached speeds exceeding100 miles-per-hour before the duo crashed their stolen vehicle and fled on foot. They were apprehended shortly after at a nearby residence where they surrendered after apparently mistaking the homeowner for police.

The pair originally escaped from a prison bus driving through Putnam County after allegedly killing two correctional officers, Christopher Monica and Curtis Billue, with their own weapons.  In addition to the murder allegations, Dubose and Rowe stand accused of stealing five vehicles, burglarizing two homes, and holding an elderly couple hostage during their time on the run for more than 60 hours.

After their initial escape from the prison bus taking them to a new prison facility 45 miles west of Eatonton, along with 31 other inmates, Dubose and Rowe carjacked a Honda Civic and made their way to Madison. According to authorities, they ditched the car in the woods behind Rite Aid in Madison and broke into a residence on Cox Road, where they left behind their prison uniforms after ransacking the house, presumably in a mad search for food, clothes, and money.

Madison became the hub of the search as hundreds of federal, state, and local law enforcement agents setup shop at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.

“In my 27-year career in law enforcement, this was probably the largest manhunt I have ever seen,” said Morgan County Sheriff Robert Markley. “I was very relieved when we found out they were caught. I was extremely concerned that they would hurt or kill another victim here in Morgan County, another county or in another state. I am grateful they were caught before they did.”

“It is a huge relief that it is over,” said Bill Ashburn, Madison City Police chief. “Everything was fast-paced, time-consuming, and mentally draining while we were looking for them. Because of the nature of the situation, we felt like there was a real danger to this community and we were doing everything we could to keep our citizens safe.”

As the new spread of the escaped inmates on the loose in Madison, local residents all across Morgan County feared for their safety. Alleged sightings inundated authorities and social media sites were abuzz with each and every update. Dubose and Rowe were reportedly spotted at Madison’s Family Dollar, which prompted dozens of heavily-armed law enforcement agents to surround the store and search the nearby area on Tuesday, June 13. By Wednesday, June 14, authorities discovered Dubose and Rowe stole another vehicle from a rock quarry in the Town of Buckhead, which expanded the search across the state and even nationwide, with investigators tracking down leads as far east as Virginia and as far west as Texas. 

“A lot of people were concerned and worried and wanted to get us as much information to help us as they could,” said Markley. “I was very proud of how all the agencies worked together all the way from the federal agencies to state and the local agencies in Madison, Morgan County and surrounding counties, as well as the citizens helping us with information.”

“It was an eye-opening experience for the citizens of Madison that when these things happen, and they don’t happen often, police step up to the plate and do what they have to keep Madison safe,” said Ashburn.

According to reports, after Dubose and Rowe left Morgan County, they headed to Tennessee, ditching the stolen truck in Moore County. They stole another car, but ditched it in Bedford County.  Dubose and Rowe then broke into a Shelbyville residence about 30 miles from the Georgia-Tennessee border. The two fugitives held the elderly couple inside hostage for three hours at gunpoint. According to the Bedford County Sheriff Austin Swing, Dubose and Rowe tied the man up before eating the couple’s food and stealing shoes, clothes, and jewelry.

“They wrestled with the man and got control of him and threatened both of their lives,” Swing told reporters. “[They] tied the man up with a belt and put socks on his hands where he couldn’t use his fingers,” he added. After three hours, the escaped inmates left the house, stealing the couple’s Jeep Cherokee. Little did they know, their time on the run was almost up. According to Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh, a 10-mile chase along Interstate 24, just south of Nashville, when an officer tried to pull the vehicle over, unaware that the wanted men were driving it.  The inmates attempted to evade police, hitting several SUVs and opening fire on police. But no one was injured during the pursuit. Dubose and Rowe crashed along the highway and took off on foot into the woods, running through a rural property near Christiana, Tennessee. The two picked the wrong the residence. Patrick Hale, the 35-year-old homeowner, was alerted by friends that the two fugitives were in the area. Hale spotted Dubose and Rowe climbing the barbed wire fence along the edge of his property, coming toward his house. Hale tried to flee with his daughter, but as he backed out of his driveway, Dubose and Rowe waived their shirts in surrender.

“My vehicle looks very similar to a police cruiser,” Hale told reporters. “For some reason they started to surrender and lay down on their stomachs in my concrete driveway.”

“I had a weapon on me but I never had to draw the weapon,” he added.

Authorities are still deciding how to distribute the $130,000 reward for Dubose and Rowe since multiple individuals aided in leading authorities to the fugitives.

“Maybe a lot of people are getting a reward out of this,” said Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn in a statement to reporters.

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