A three-day search for two inmates sought in the killing of their guards on a prison bus in Georgia expanded on Thursday, with a sheriff saying the fugitives could be halfway across the country by now.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said law enforcement agencies in Georgia and beyond are conducting "the greatest effort I have ever seen" to hunt the fugitives 43-year-old Donnie Russell Rowe and 24-year-old Ricky Dubose.
Officers have recovered the Honda Civic the pair carjacked after Tuesday's killings. Later the prisoners stole a white Ford F-250 from a locked quarry at approximately 11 p.m. "These are risky, seriously unsafe vicious hoodlums that need to be apprehended", said Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, who is coordinating the search. These are serious, risky hoodlums that need to be apprehended, ' Sills said.
Special agent David Levalley of the FBI's Atlanta Division said federal authorities have joined local and state officials to help catch the escapees.
The escapees are wanted for the prison bus murders of two corrections officers: Sgt. Chris Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue. "There's an infinite number of people that may well be helping them outside", Sills said.
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.
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Rowe and Dubose held a couple captive and then fled in the couple's vehicle, Miles said. Officials said he's a member of the Aryan prison gang known as the Ghostface Gangsters.
Authorities urged the public to be vigilant, and warned against approaching them. The other prisoners on the bus, Sills said, "did not visibly participate" in the escape.
Jasper County Sheriff Chris Malphrus said law enforcement has received reports of two men matching the description of the escaped inmates from Georgia being spotted at a rest area at mile marker 17 on Interstate 95.
Sills said the inmates broke into a home on Cox Road in Morgan County right after their escape and ransacked it before stealing some food and clothes.
Rowe and Dubose had occasionally shared a prison cell; they left more than two dozen other inmates behind in handcuffs when they fled the bus. "If somebody is helping them and we find out who they are, they will be prosecuted as participants in this crime, there's no doubt about that". They disarmed one of the officers and fatally shot both.
Rowe was serving a sentence of up to life in prison for armed robbery and aggravated assault in a 2001 case. "As [Tuesdsay] went on, and I learned more and more about these two officers and met their families, I realized that the impact of these cowardly acts is far-reaching". Rowe is from Lewisberg, Tenn., about 20 miles west of Shelbyville.