A South Georgia sheriff said Monday he believes the power of prayer helped a wanted man decide to quit running and answer to his latest charges.
“Prayer will change your mind and your heart,” Ben Hill County Sheriff Lee Cone told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’ve done a lot of praying so that’s what changed his heart, no doubt.”
Cone believes Bo Dukes, the man at the center of a massive search, was ready to surrender when he was found late Saturday. Dukes, a suspect in the Tara Grinstead murder case, was charged last week in an alleged sexual assault on New Year’s Day in Warner Robins. But he fled the area, according to police, and was the subject of a manhunt that lasted five days.
Dukes has family in both Ben Hill and Irwin counties, and investigators in the area were on high alert. Cone said his deputies searched nonstop for Dukes, though it's unclear where the fugitive was for several days"
“Since day one, I have seen my family very little,” Cone said.
According to the U.S. Marshals Service, investigators received various tips and placed a relative’s home under surveillance. Dukes was spotted Saturday in Ben Hill County driving toward Ocilla, according to John Edgar of the Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force.
Dukes allegedly told a “confidential informant” he planned to surrender, investigators said Monday. When he did not, he was taken into custody at the Ocilla home of a relative, Edgar said.
“It was not the easiest fugitive investigation, but everyone worked around the clock until they got him,” Edgar said.
The sheriff’s offices in Irwin, Ben Hill and Wilcox counties, Ocilla police, Warner Robins police and the GBI assisted Marshals with locating Dukes.
“As long as he’s in custody, people should be able to sleep at night,” Edgar said.
Dukes, 34, is one of two defendants in the Tara Grinstead murder case and was due to report to federal prison in a separate case. On New Year’s Day, he allegedly sexually assaulted two women at gunpoint in his Warner Robins home. Police charged Dukes with rape, aggravated sodomy and false imprisonment, but couldn’t locate him.
On Thursday, the U.S. Marshals joined in the search for Dukes, and the manhunt stretched into late Saturday.
Grinstead, 30, an Irwin County High School teacher, disappeared in October 2005 after attending a party. Despite a massive search, the former beauty queen was never found. No arrests were made in the case until February 2017, when the GBI announced Ryan Alexander Duke had been charged with Grinstead’s murder.
Days later, Dukes was arrested and released on $15,000 bond. He has been accused of helping Duke conceal Grinstead’s body.
In a separate case, Dukes, who served in the U.S. Army, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge in 2013 for a scheme to have Department of Defense property shipped to his home in Savannah. He was sentenced to federal prison and released in October 2015, but failed to pay $130,000 restitution and complete 40 hours of community service required for his supervised release, according to court filings.
In November, Dukes was ordered back to federal prison to serve six months, and was to report within 45 days. On Thursday, his pretrial release was revoked.
Dukes was being held Tuesday at the Houston County jail. South Georgia District Attorney Brad Rigby said Dukes will likely serve his time on the federal case before being returned to face charges in Houston.
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