Police capture Georgia fugitives in Tennessee after three-day manhunt

Two  inmates, Donnie Russell Row (left) and Ricky Dubose, accused of killing two Georgia correctional officers were captured in Tennessee Thursday after three days of being on the run from authorities. (Credit: WKRN-TV News 2)

Two inmates, Donnie Russell Row (left) and Ricky Dubose, accused of killing two Georgia correctional officers were captured in Tennessee Thursday after three days of being on the run from authorities. (Credit: WKRN-TV News 2)

For Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe, the end began when they burst into the home of an elderly couple near Shelbyville, Tenn. and tied them up, authorities said.

After three hours - leaving the couple bound - Dubose and Rowe took off again with the couple’s cell phone and Jeep. As they were driving away, a Tennessee trooper was arriving at the couple’s home to perform a welfare check.

Three days earlier, the two men had escaped from a prison bus in Putnam County after killing two Georgia correctional officers and had been on the run ever since.

In Tennessee on Thursday, they led police on a 10-mile car chase that ended in a wreck and gunshots, though no one was injured. They then fled into the woods and ended up in a homeowner’s nearby yard.

Tennessee officials credited two neighbors for holding Dubose and Rowe at gunpoint until they arrived. A homeowner, they said, noticed the men in his driveway and called a neighbor over to hold them at gunpoint.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director Mark Gwyn said Dubose and Rowe’s capture was bittersweet.

“We know how important it was to capture them,” Gwyn said. “With the crimes committed in Georgia, we know they could’ve done that here. Yes, it feels good (to capture them), but there’s a lot of hurt people in Georgia that feel this pain for many years.”

The fugitives still had the slain officers guns. The white Ford pickup truck they stole in Georgia was found abandoned in Moore County, Tenn.

"It happened the way we thought it would," said Georgia Bureau of Investigation Director Vernon Keenan. "They would do a crime and it would escalate."

Donnie Russell Rowe and Ricky Dubose, accused of killing two Georgia correctional officers and then committing a crime spree, were arrested Thursday evening in Tennessee. (Credit: WKRN-TV News 2) 

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The men shot and killed two officers, Sgt. Curtis Billue and for Sgt. Christopher Monica.

Governor Nathan Deal thanked law enforcement officials for capturing the inmates in a release late Thursday.

“Rest assured, justice will be served. My sincere thanks to our local, state and federal law enforcement officers who assisted in the manhunt,” he said. “Because of their tireless efforts, the public is safe. The pain endured by the families and loved ones of Sergeant Christopher Monica and Sergeant Curtis Billue endures, however. We will do everything in our power to support their loved ones, and we will not forget their sacrifice and service.”

Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Greg Dozier said he was grateful for the support of law enforcement agencies across the country.

"We are relieved to know that these two dangerous individuals have been taken off the streets, and the public is out of harm’s way,” Dozier said.

The capture was also a relief to Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, who said the county’s work isn’t done.

“The burden of danger is off, and that’s the greatest relief we have,” he said.

Georgia correctional officers Sgt. Curtis Billue, 58, (left) and Sgt. Christopher Monica, 42, were both shot and killed along Ga. 16 in Putnam County when two prisoners they were transporting escaped.

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Sills said Dubose and Rowe face charges in three Tennessee counties and are en route to the state’s Rutherford County jail. It is not known when they’ll be extradited to Georgia.

Sills said his heart was still with the officers, their families and other victims of the inmates’ alleged crimes.

“I’m sorry it ever happened,” he said. “I’m sorry those people in Tennessee have suffered...I can assure you they were traumatized by (the inmates) coming into their home. My sympathies to the families.”

Earlier Thursday, Deal announced that flags will fly half-staff for slain correctional officers Sgt. Billue on June 17 and for Sgt. Monica on June 20, the respective days each will be buried.

ORIGINAL STORY: Three days into the manhunt for two inmates who allegedly shot and killed two Georgia correctional officers, there are few leads pointing authorities to where the men described as "dangerous beyond description" could be hiding.

A white pickup truck the two inmates are believed to be in is still missing, authorities said.

Families of the slain officers, identified as Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue, are in the thick of planning funeral arrangements.

And rewards for information leading to the capture of fugitives Donnie Russell Rowe and Ricky Dubose are steadily increasing.

Commissioner Greg Dozier (left), Georgia Department of Corrections, speaks to the news media during a joint press conference of all the agencies involved in the manhunt for the two escaped convicts Donnie Russell Rowe and Ricky Dubose, who shot and killed two correctional officers, at the Morgan County Public Safety Complex on Thursday, June 15, 2017, in Madison. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

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Credit: Curtis Compton

The FBI, the GBI and other agencies are offering a total of $115,000, which amounts to $57,500 for each escaped inmate. And that amount could increase as more people and organizations offer to help, GBI director Vernon Keenan said.


Billue, 58, of Milledgeville, had been with the Department of Corrections since July 2007.

Earl Knight, Billue’s cousin, told Channel 2 Action News the veteran correctional officer talked about wanting to retire.

“It’s a hazardous job," Knight said. “And he probably worked with some of the guys.”

He leaves behind two sons, Knight said.

Monica, 42, also of Milledgeville, had been with the department since October 2009.

According to a GoFundMe page set up to financially assist his wife, two daughters and two grandchildren, Monica "was taking on extra shifts at work so his wife wouldn't have to work since she recently has some worsening health issues."

Susan Caro Bergeron, the organizer of the page, said the officer “prayed daily for these criminals and sadly ended up dying at the hands of two.”

Funeral services for Monica will take place at 2 p.m. Tuesday at First United Methodist Church in Milledgeville.

Services for Billue will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Wilkinson County High School Auditorium in McIntyre.

Authorities said the duo are now in white, 2008 Ford F-250, BCX 5372, standard cab with a dent in the right rear quarter panel and tool boxes down both sides.


The deadly shootings happened about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday on Ga. 16 in Putnam County, between Eatonton and Sparta, prompting officials to place all Department of Corrections facilities across the state on lockdown for the foreseeable future.

Dubose and Rowe overtook the guards, who were driving a transport bus, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said.

One officer was driving the bus. The other was in a seat adjacent to him. There was a gate between the officers and the inmates.

The two prisoners “went through the gate,” Sills said. “I can't tell you how the gate got open. It should have been locked. It may have been locked. I have no idea."

After disarming the officers, one of the inmates shot and killed them, he said.

The shootings, Sills said, were caught on video.

Dubose and Rowe then carjacked that Honda Civic with Georgia license plate RBJ 6601 and sped off in the stolen car, according to officials. The person in the Honda was not injured.

The first deputy on the scene was dispatched to Sparta Highway about 6:53 a.m., where the bus was stopped in the middle of the road at the bottom of the hill just west of Long Shoals Road, according to an incident report released Thursday.

The official found 31 other inmates on the bus in handcuffs. The engine was running.

They identified the accused men as Rowe and Dubose.

The escaped inmates were reportedly seen later Tuesday in a Family Dollar store on Eatonton Road in Madison, where they also ransacked a house, dumped their prison clothes, changed into civilian clothes and stole food. Madison is in Morgan County.

Just before 6 p.m. Wednesday, officers found the green Honda hidden in the woods not far from the scene of the burglary in Morgan County.

Dubose and Rowe stole a new vehicle in the same county, officials said.

The inmates are now believed to be in a white, 2008 Ford F-250 with Georgia license plate BCX 5372 that was stolen from the Seven Islands Road area, authorities said. It’s unclear what direction they are heading.


A press conference has been scheduled for noon at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, FBI spokesman Stephen Emmett said.

Representatives from multiple agencies will be there “to provide a comprehensive update to the fugitive investigation portion of this matter,” he said in a statement. Return to AJC.com to watch the press conference live.

Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday the manhunt “will not let up” until Dubose and Rowe are captured.

Local, state and federal officials have pledged resources to assist in the search.


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

People can also call an FBI tip line at 877-926-8332.

Do not approach them, officials said. They took the slain officers’ 9mm pistols, Sills said.

According to a law enforcement alert, Dubose is in an Aryan prison gang known as the Ghostface Gangsters.

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.

Elbert sheriff’s Capt. Darren Scarborough said Dubose took $100 from an acquaintance at gunpoint and shot him in the hand.

“He’s off the chain,” Scarborough said. “He’s just a loose cannon. He’s well-known to us.”

Scarborough said Dubose’s mother, brother and girlfriend live in Madison County, which adjoins Elbert.

He said local police and deputies were “out in force” and ready to help Putnam look for Rowe and Dubose.

“He’s very dangerous and he has nothing to lose and I think he will go down in a blaze of glory,” Scarborough said. “And that’s sad because some officer will have to answer for shooting him.”

Sills called the inmates the “typical criminal.” They were cellmates at Baldwin State Prison, according to Georgia Department of Corrections assistant Commissioner Ricky Myrick said.

“They had been cellmates before inside our facility, so they have known each other quite a while,” he said.

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.


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—Staff writers Steve Burns, Raisa Habersham and Alexis Stevens contributed to this article.