2 inmates remain on run after killing 2 prison guards

Ricky Dubose (left) and Donnie Russell Rowe. (Georgia Department of Law Enforcement via AP)

Ricky Dubose (left) and Donnie Russell Rowe. (Georgia Department of Law Enforcement via AP)

By Kate Brumback / Associated Press

Two Georgia inmates described as “dangerous beyond description” remained on the run early Wednesday after killing two guards on a prison bus before fleeing in a stolen car.

Authorities said Donnie Russell Rowe, serving life without parole, and Ricky Dubose, who has prominent tattoos on his face and neck, were spotted twice on Tuesday after they overpowered, disarmed and killed Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue as the guards drove 33 inmates between prisons. Their escape after carjacking a driver who happened to pull up behind the bus on a rual highway set off a massive manhunt involving local, state and federal officers, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sill said.

Sills was emotional during a news conference as he described the scene.

“I saw two brutally murdered corrections officers, that’s what I saw,” he said. “I have their blood on my shoes.”

Authorities said the two inmates got into a “grass green,” four-door 2004 Honda Civic with the Georgia license plate number RBJ-6601 and drove west on state Highway 16 toward Eatonton, southeast of Atlanta.

“We are still desperately looking for these two individuals. They are armed with 9 mm pistols that were taken from these correctional officers. They are dangerous beyond description. If anyone sees them or comes into contact, they need to call 911 immediately,” the sheriff said.

He urged the two to turn themselves in. “They need to surrender before we find ‘em,” Sills said.

The two got a head start by taking and tossing the Honda driver’s cellphone and leaving the other 31 prisoners locked inside the bus, Sills said.

“My biggest worry is they’re going to kill somebody else,” Sills said.

Later Tuesday, the manhunt shifted about 25 miles (40 kilometers) to the north to the city of Madison, where Sills said the two men burglarized a house and then two men fitting their descriptions were reportedly seen in a Family Dollar store less than a mile away. Authorities had no further signs of the inmates and had no reason to believe they had split up, Sills said.

The reward for information leading to the arrests of Rowe, 43, and Dubose, 24, continued to grow. Georgia Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Nelly Miles said in an email Wednesday that multiple agencies have contributed $70,000.

Monica and Billue were both transfer sergeants at Baldwin State Prison. Monica had been with the Georgia Department of Corrections since October 2009 and Billue since July 2007.

How the two inmates managed to reach and overpower the guards remains under investigation, Sills said.

“They were inside the caged area of the bus,” he said. “How they got through the locks and things up to that area I do not know.”

Protocol is to have two armed corrections officers on the bus, but the officers don’t wear bullet-proof vests during transfers, Corrections Commissioner Greg Dozier said.

“We lost two of our fellow officers, two of our kin. We see our officers as our family,” Dozier said.

Monica was 42 and leaves behind a wife, Dozier said. Billue was 58 and is survived by his father, five sisters, two brothers and two sons, said Jim Green, an attorney who’s speaking for the Billue family.

“Officer Billue’s family asks for prayers for all of those who are now placing their own lives at risk to bring these men to justice and asks anyone who has information that may assist in apprehending these perpetrators to please contact law enforcement,” Green said in an email.

The guards were moving the inmates to a diagnostic prison in Jackson, where their next placement was to be determined, Dozier said, adding that inmates do not know their transfer dates ahead of time.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal pledged every state resource necessary to catch the pair.

“The selflessness and courage of these two brave souls will not be forgotten, nor will their sacrifice and service,” Deal said in an emailed statement.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said federal resources are being committed to help catch the fugitives. The FBI and U.S. Marshals have joined the investigation, Sills said.

“An attack on any American law enforcement officer is an attack on every American law enforcement officer and the principles we all believe in,” Rosenstein told a Senate budget panel in Washington Tuesday morning.

Both escaped inmates were serving long sentences for armed robbery and other crimes. The Department of Corrections said Rowe has been serving life without parole since 2002, and Dubose began a 20-year sentence in 2015.

Associated Press writers Kathleen Foody in Atlanta and Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia, contributed to this report.

Talk to us

More in Local News

The Everett Police Department was investigating a woman's death Sunday morning after a driver hit and killed her on Broadway in north Everett. (Everett Police Department)
Woman killed by suspected impaired driver in Everett

A driver reportedly hit the person, which prompted the closure of Broadway between 17th and 19th streets Sunday morning.

Everett
Everett library, fire department will have social workers on call

Many 911 calls don’t require police or fire responses. City leaders want to ensure frequent callers get the help they need.

French fries and a fried chicken sandwich are shown at a Chick-fil-A restaurant in New York in 2015. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Michael Nagle
New Chick-fil-A restaurant coming to Everett?

An Everett Mall Way location would be the restaurant chain’s fourth Snohomish County store.

Everett
Charges: North Everett murder suspect caught on camera

Jeremiah Stringfellow, 27, is being held on first-degree murder charges for the fatal shooting of Naej Belledent, 22.

x
Meadowdale teen claims race kept her off varsity basketball team

The 15-year-old sophomore alleges that, consciously or not, a new girls basketball head coach limited players of color.

Everett resident Shon Grimes receives a flu shot from pharmacist Nisha Mathew at Bartell Drugs on Broadway on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Already, worst flu season in years has claimed 3 in Snohomish County

Statewide, 13 people have died, including two children, from the flu this season.

Scout Skyler MacKay, 14, sits amongst only a small number of the over 600 toys he has collected for local children in foster care as part of his Eagle Scout project Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022, at his family’s home in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen Santa: Scout brings toys and joy to foster kids, like he was

Skyler MacKay, 14, of Lynnwood is collecting 1,000 toys for his Eagle Scout project. Toys will be given year-round.

Daily Herald food, drink and restaurant reporter Taylor Goebel.
Our food writer bids farewell

Taylor Goebel shares news of her departure, as well as her favorite moments as The Herald’s food & drink reporter.

This screenshot shows the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office's new crime dashboard released to the public last week. It tracks crime trends over the last few years.
Sheriff’s new database gives window into Snohomish County crime rates

Homicides are up compared to 2021. Some other violent crimes and property crimes are down, data released last week shows.

Most Read