Escapees Terrorized Couple

Friday, June 16, 2017
Donnie Russell Rowe, 43, (top) a Lewisburg native, and Ricky Dubose, 24, lie on the ground after their capture Thursday evening near Epps Mill Road in Christiana. The pair are accused of killing two corrections officers in Georgia. During their flight they allegedly held a Shelbyville couple for several hours in their home at gunpoint and stole their vehicle and guns.
Tennessee Bureau of Investigation photo

The two Georgia fugitives captured near Beech Grove early Thursday night terrorized a Shelbyville-area couple for more than three hours earlier in the afternoon, Sheriff Austin Swing said.

Donnie Russell Rowe, 43, a Lewisburg native, and Ricky Dubose, 24, who killed two corrections officers in Georgia on Tuesday, forced their way into a Kingree Road home about 1:30 p.m., according to Swing.

The men attempted to steal another vehicle at a home on Pruitt Road in southeastern Rutherford County, between Beech Grove and Christiana, but were held at gunpoint by the homeowner and a neighbor until authorities arrived, said Sgt. Bill Miller of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

‘Taken over’

“I’m not sure if ‘hostage’ is the right term but they were taken over by two men with rifles,” Swing said. “They pretty much told them everything, that that’s who they were and they didn’t mind killing, they didn’t have anything to lose and they’d probably be dead within 24 hours.”

Neither of the victims were seriously harmed, the sheriff said, although the man suffered some bruises and scrapes where he was tied with a belt. The couple’s hands were covered with socks and the fugitives helped themselves to fresh beef stew.

“They ate and went through the home looking for weapons and valuables and took jewelry and some of the man’s clothes including boots and long sleeved shirts, I guess to cover up their tattoos,” Swing said.

The escapees stole the couple’s black Jeep Cherokee as they left. The couple notified authorities about 5 to 5:30 p.m. and a description of the Cherokee was immediately dispatched to surrounding areas, Swing said.

Earlier theft

Rowe and Dubose stole a car in Moore County on Thursday morning, drove to Shelbyville and pulled to the side of Kingree Road early in the afternoon due to engine problems, then drove into a field and attempted to cover the vehicle with sticks, grass and brush, according to Swing. Winds from an early-afternoon thunderstorm blew the brush off the vehicle, leaving it exposed.

Officers were called about the vehicle in the field, but Swing said at that point it had not yet been reported stolen.

Swing said the fugitives apparently also ditched it because it “wasn’t a nice car ... they might not have thought it was fast enough to get away.”

The couple whose home was entered apparently just happened to be in the nearest location to the abandoned vehicle, Swing said.

Chase begins

Rutherford County deputies spotted the stolen vehicle near Murfreesboro around 6 p.m. and pursued it southeast on Interstate 24 at speeds of up to 100 mph until the suspects wrecked near mile marker 91, Detective Sgt. Dan Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office said.

Shots were fired at Rutherford County deputies during the chase, Goodwin said. Law enforcement officers didn’t fire back, according to Sgt. Bill Miller of the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

Rose and Dubose attempted to carjack another vehicle.

Swing, Detective Lt. Jason Kennedy and three road deputies from Bedford County helped set a perimeter around the area but didn’t have any direct contact with the escapees.

Coffee County authorities reported one of the men called his mother shortly before their arrests threatening to shoot approaching officers.

Earlier activity

Rowe and Dubose allegedly killed two corrections officers on Tuesday in Putnam County, Georgia as they escaped from a locked, gated area of a bus transporting prisoners between facilities. The former cellmates stole two other vehicles and burglarized a house on their way to Tennessee, investigators said.

Rowe was serving a life sentence for armed robbery and aggravated assault. DuBose was serving a 20-year sentence for armed robbery, aggravated assault and theft.

“You won’t be out long. ... There is no one you can trust ... and nowhere you can go that we won’t find you,” Oconee County, Georgia Sheriff Scott Berry wrote on Facebook.

— The Associated Press conributed to this report.