Loganville couple caught in Tennessee traffic jam as Georgia prison escapees are captured

The local and surrounding communities breathed a collective sigh of relief Thursday evening on hearing that Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe, the two inmates who allegedly murdered two prison guards in Putnam County before escaping from a prison bus, were back in custody. Ever since the two were reported to have shot the guards and made their escape Tuesday morning, local residents had been nervous and law enforcement had been on high alert. It was known that the two had been at least on the border of Walton County when it was discovered that they had broken into a home in Morgan County and stolen a vehicle. By Thursday, they had ditched that vehicle and stolen another. Nobody was sure where they were and the manhunt had gone nationwide with a $130,000 reward offered for information leading to their capture.

But Thursday evening all that came to an end with the arrest of the two in Tennessee. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported that at about 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dubose and Rowe had forced their way into a home in Shelbyville, Tenn., holding a couple hostage for several hours before leaving in their black Jeep Cherokee. The couple were able to get free and phone 911 just after 5 p.m., giving details of the vehicle and the fact that it was indeed the escaped prisoners from Georgia who had held them prisoner.

“Law enforcement officers began an effort to locate the vehicle, were able to do so, and soon began a pursuit, which wound from Bedford County along State Route 231, into Rutherford County, and on to Interstate 24,” a spokesman with the TBI said in a press release. “During the pursuit, which lasted more than 20 miles and reached dangerously high speeds, shots were fired from the suspects’ vehicle, striking several Rutherford County cruisers. Ultimately, the pair crashed the vehicle along Interstate 24, at approximately Mile Marker 91, and fled on foot through a tree line.”

It was here that a Loganville couple on their way to visit friends in Nashville found themselves caught in the traffic jam that resulted from the chase, wreck and subsequent arrest of the two fugitives.

“Traffic come to a halt just before Murfreesboro. About 10-12 police cars of every description, including Tenn State Patrol fly pass us on the pull off lane,” said Joan Ottinger. “Several were going at least 100 mph ( per my husband’s opinion).”

Ottinger said she wondered aloud whether it had something to do with the escaped prisoners and her husband agreed it could well be.

“We knew for sure it was more than just a flipped car because there were way to many cruisers for that. The south bound traffic backed up over 12 miles, dead stopped and people out of their cars etc,” she said.

Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe were captured in Tennessee on Thursday evening, June 15, 2017. Photo courtesy of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations

Not long after that, Ottinger got a call from her son telling her that Rowe and Dubose had been arrested in Murfreesboro. She said the traffic hold up was well worth it to know that the two were back behind bars.

According to TBI, after the two had fled on foot, they approached a nearby home where the homeowner was able to call 911 with police getting there in time to take the two into custody. The prisoners will be returning to Georgia to face murder, carjacking and other charges. The TBI said they too are looking at filing charges against Dubose and Rowe.

“The determination about any criminal charges in Tennessee has not yet been made. The information gathered by the TBI will be shared with the respective Tennessee District Attorneys General for further consideration,” the TBI announced. No law enforcement officers or members of the general public were injured during the events in Tennessee that resulted in the capture of Dubose and Rowe.

There had initially been some confusion as to whether the reward, which by this time has reached $146,000, would be paid out to anybody. But Friday the Georgia Bureau of Investigations announced that it would indeed be distributed amongst those who had assisted in the arrest of Rowe and Dubose.

“Information has revealed that the bravery of Tennessee civilians contributed to the apprehension of both inmates,” GBI said in a press release. “The reward will be dispersed at the appropriate time. As there were several aspects involved in their apprehension, law enforcement will continue to review them and determine how it will be dispersed.”

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