Manhunt for escaped Georgia inmates goes nationwide

A pair of Georgia inmates — wanted for gunning down two correctional officers and fleeing a state prison transport bus — continued to elude authorities on Wednesday as the dragnet to catch them expanded across the nation.

While they have yet to find Ricky Dubose, 24, and Donnie Russell Rowe, 43, law enforcement officials tracked down their getaway car. The green 2004 Honda Civic the two carjacked early Tuesday morning was concealed in the woods in Morgan County, about 60 miles east of Atlanta. It turned up near a Madison, Ga. home where police say Dubose and Rowe dumped their prison whites and stole clothes.

They may now be traveling in a white Ford pickup truck authorities believe they stole from a business off I-20 and just miles from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office in Madison.

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Meanwhile, some details of their violent escape emerged on Wednesday as state officials investigate whether more could have been done to secure the bus traveling to Jackson State Prison.

The inmates overpowered Baldwin State Prison officers Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue, obtaining the officers .40-caliber-Glock pistols. One officer was driving the bus and the other was in a seat adjacent to him. There was a gate between the officers and the inmates. It's unclear how the inmates breached the gate, but they managed to get off the bus by kicking out one of the panels of glass in the folding passenger doors, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said

The first deputy on the scene found the other 31 inmates, handcuffed, were sitting on the bus, it’s engine running, Sills said.

Dubose and Rowe may have had plenty of time to plan: they were cell mates at Baldwin State Prison, state corrections officials said.

“So, they have known each other quite a while,” Georgia Department of Corrections assistant Commissioner Ricky Myrick said.

Sills said it’s unknown if the men are still together. Dubose has distinctive tattoos on his face and neck and is in an Aryan prison gang known as the Ghostface Gangsters.

“It’s a possibility they split up,” Sills said, calling them “dangerous criminals.”

He expressed frustration the two were still at large a day after the brutal slaying.

The reward has increased to $115,000 for information leading to an arrest.

Law enforcement across the region — and the nation - have been tapped in the massive manhunt.

Sills said he’s spoken to officials in Virginia and Texas.

“This is a very fluid, nationwide investigation,” he said.

The most promising lead could be the pickup truck, a 2008 Ford F-250, bearing the Georgia tag BCX 5372.

Officials believe the inmates took the truck because of tracks and footprints found at the scene. The truck was stolen overnight when the business was closed. There was also fuel on site the fugitives may have accessed, Sills said. The truck has a dent in the right rear quarter panel and toolboxes down both sides.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who called the families of the slain officers, told The AJC on Wednesday that the manhunt "will not let up" until they are captured.

“Sometimes it takes longer than we would like,” Deal said, “but I have every confidence that they’re going to get these individuals and bring them to justice.”

Deal pledged that “no effort will be spared” to track down the fugitives and he urged residents to call 911 with any tips.

The governor also said he’s awaiting details of an investigation to determine whether the state corrections department could have followed other procedures to prevent the escape from happening.

“The investigation will determine whether we need more personnel, more security in these transports. They’re a frequent occurrence, the kind of things that every day these transports are taking place,” he said.

“We need to find out what the circumstances really were, how did it happen – and what can you do to prevent it. Those are the lessons we will learn,” Deal added. “It’s a hard way to learn lessons.”

Dubose, 24, is 6-foot-1 and 140 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. He was convicted of financial identity fraud, credit card fraud, burglary by forced entry, theft by taking and entering a vehicle in Madison County in August 2010. That same month, Dubose was convicted of robbery in Gwinnett County. He was sentenced to 20 years in Baldwin State Prison after he was convicted of aggravated assault, armed robbery and theft by taking in Elbert County in September 2014, according to the Department of Corrections.

Rowe, 43, is 6-foot-1 and 181 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair. He was convicted of armed robbery, possession of a firearm during a crime and aggravated assault in Bibb County in October 2001, according to Georgia Department of Corrections records. He was serving a life sentence without parole in Baldwin State Prison.

Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the fugitives is asked to call the FBI at 404-679-9000 or the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office at 706-485-8557.

-Staff Writers Greg Bluestein and Raisa Habersham contributed to this story