U.S.

Manhunt sparked by slaying of prison guards, inmates' escape

Manhunt sparked by slaying of prison guards, inmates' escape

The men were being transported on a bus when they overpowered the guards and killed them.

The Georgia Department of Corrections identified the guards as Christopher Monica and Curtis Billue, both officers at Baldwin State Prison.

Then they escaped by carjacking a driver who happened to pull up behind the bus on a rural highway, setting off a massive manhunt involving local, state and federal officers, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said.

The bus also is equipped with security cameras, though Sills said authorities already know who killed the guards and reviewing the video Tuesday was not as important as "finding these two escaped, unsafe convicts".

Sills also said there was a possibility that the escapees had split up, but that was before authorities found the auto the two men stole and used as a getaway vehicle in Putnam County Tuesday.

The Georgia Department of Corrections is urging people not to approach the men and to call 911 if they spot the pair.

There were some tense moments in Noxubee County Wednesday when sheriff's deputies received reports of a possible sighting of two escaped inmates from Georgia who are accused of murder.

It wasn't immediately clear why the prisoners were being transferred.

Sills said in his professional opinion he doesn't believe the escapees are any longer in Madison or Morgan County. A witness saw the men escape in a dark green Honda, she said.

"My biggest concern is that they're gonna murder somebody else", said Sills.




Overnight they stole a 2008 Ford F-250 truck in neighboring Morgan County, police said.

Police are now looking for a truck that was stolen from the county where two escaped inmates were last seen.

The incident took place at around 2pm, they said, and the house where the alleged burglary took place was ransacked, with food and clothing taken from the premises. Sills said the FBI, Georgia Department of Corrections, U.S. Marshall Service, Ga.

Rowe, who is 6 feet 1 inches tall and 181 pounds with blue eyes and brown hair, was serving a sentence of up to life in prison for armed robbery and aggravated assault in a 2001 case, according to the Georgia Department of Corrections website.

The pair are violent repeat offenders and are armed with the dead guards'.9 mm handguns.

Corrections officials can not say for sure they did not plan this escape, although they stress the two should not have known they were being transferred Tuesday morning.

"Please keep the families of our officers in your thoughts and prayers", Jeal Salter, the spokeswoman, said in an email.

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.

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

Both were serving prison sentences for separate armed robbery and assault convictions, and they knew each other, having once been cellmates, authorities said.


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