MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said he is looking into the $130,000 reward offered last week by law enforcement authorities to anyone with information leading to the arrests of Donnie Rowe and Ricky Dubose, the prison bus escapees who overpowered a pair of corrections officers before shooting them to death.
“After disseminating the information garnered from Tennessee, we decided to make a press release to inform the public that the fugitives had been arrested,” Sills said in a Saturday press release concerning the reward fund. “When reporters asked what would become of the reward during the interview, I responded that since the fugitives surrendered to law enforcement the reward would not be paid.”
Sills explained that he made the statement based solely on the information he and others in law enforcement circles had been given at the time by authorities in Tennessee.
“I also informed the media of the fact that law enforcement officers are prohibited by law from receiving awards,” Sills said. “Around midnight, some two hours after the news conference, I learned that Rowe and Dubose had not simply surrendered to deputies in Tennessee. At that point in time, virtually all representatives of the various media outlets had left the command post.”
Sills was referring to the FBI mobile command post that had been established last Tuesday afternoon at the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office in Madison where the manhunt moved to from Putnam County.
Last Friday, Sills said he personally emailed what he described as “a plethora” of news media outlets informing them that he since had learned that there was apparently some civilian involvement in the arrests of the fugitives.
“There has apparently been a great outcry from the public regarding the information about the reward monies,” Sills said. “I and I alone, take full responsibility for any confusion regarding this issue, but I have tried to be as open and informative as I could be without jeopardizing our criminal case and have done so to the best of my abilities. For those who are not satisfied with my explanations related to this matter, I would only ask that you direct all of your displeasure to me, personally. You may continue to complain, spew venom, and denigrate me to your heart’s content, for this is one old warhorse who can take it.”