PALATKA, FLA. (AP) - Two men suspected of killing a woman after they broke out of a Florida jail were caught Saturday when deputies acting on a tip chased them down on foot and tackled them.
The capture of Doni Ray Brown and Timothy Wayne Fletcher ended a multistate search for two men who investigators believe made it as far away as Kentucky before returning to the area. The two will be charged with murder in the death of Fletcher’s 66-year-old relative Helen Googe, whose body was found hours after the breakout on Wednesday, said Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy.
The break in the case came when investigators were notified by an informant that the men were back in Putnam County Saturday, Hardy said at a news conference. Investigators were able to narrow their search later after receiving a call about two suspicious men in a green vehicle.
After finding the vehicle, which Hardy said was stolen in Tennessee, investigators used helicopters and police dogs to search for the men. When the suspects were spotted walking near a wooded area around 6 p.m., two deputies chased them down and grabbed them. Neither the deputies nor prisoners were injured in the arrest in Pomona Park, about 10 miles south of Palatka.
“These were two dangerous guys, and I can’t tell you how relieved we are that they’re back in custody and we’re the ones who got them,” said Lt. Johnny Greenwood, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
As of Saturday, the only charge lodged against the two was an escape charge, although they are also accused of stealing a truck and car in Florida, a car in Kentucky and a car in Tennessee. More charges are pending.
“They will be charged with murder, both of them,” Hardy said.
The men were taken back to sheriff’s office in Palatka Saturday night, but Hardy said they will be housed at an undisclosed location in another county.
“Why they came back to Putnam County, I can’t understand,” the sheriff said.
Some 80 officers from Putnam County and surrounding counties were involved in the search. A nationwide alert was also issued for the men after a car stolen from Googe, Fletcher’s step-grandmother, was found in Kentucky.
Brown, 23, of Satsuma and Fletcher, 25, of Welaka, fled the jail about 4 a.m. Wednesday, authorities said. The cellmates were able to escape by ripping out a sink and toilet combination from the wall using a jack Fletcher apparently stole from a county van when he made a court appearance.
They crawled through the hole in the wall and went out a door to the outside. Then they dug under one fence and were able to get through a second one.
Brown had been arrested Aug. 17 and charged with robbery with a firearm. Fletcher was arrested March 3 on three counts of failure to appear on an aggravated assault charge.