Bedford Co. couple lucky to be alive after encounter with GA esc - WSMV Channel 4

Shelbyville couple lucky to be alive after encounter with GA escapees

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SHELBYVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Officials from the Bedford County Sheriff's Office say a Shelbyville couple in their 60s is lucky to be alive after encountering two escaped inmates at their home on Thursday afternoon. 

The couple, Robert and Becky Hickerson, were tied up, robbed and forced to spend hours with the two dangerous escapees. Hours later, they managed to get out of their restraints and call  911. 

"We had a home invasion can you give me a description it's the two people from Georgia escapees it is? They're in a black Jeep Cherokee trailblazer they took my car we need help out here quickly," said one of them in the 911 call. 

Channel 4's Carley Gordon got an exclusive interview with the first deputy on the scene.

When Deputy Steve Mills first received the call, he thought he had heard wrong. He couldn't believe the two escapees wanted out of Georgia we're now in his neck of the woods.

"We knew that they had ties to here and could possibly be in the area, but still never in a hundred years did you think it would be on your shift or even happen," Mills said in an exclusive interview with Channel 4's Carley Gordon. 

Mills was the first responder at the scene in Shelbyville. 

Sheriff Austin Swing said Donnie Rowe, 43, and Ricky DuBose, 24, entered the Kindree Road home at gunpoint and tied up the husband and wife who were at home.

“They wrestled with the man and took control of him,” said Swing. “They said they put guns to both of their heads.”

Swing said Rowe and DuBose arrived at the house around 2:30 p.m. on Thursday and stayed there for almost three hours.

“They’re extremely traumatized,” said Swing of the couple. “They’ve got family here with them.”

Swing said the escapees ate a beef stew soup the woman had prepared for dinner. They also took the man’s boots, clothing, and some jewelry. 

Shortly after 5 p.m., the escapees decided they would leave. They were going to take two cars and force the woman to drive them, but it would not start.

The men took a black Jeep Cherokee from the home and fled. Within an hour, the vehicle was spotted on Interstate 24.

Law enforcement engaged Rowe and DuBose in a pursuit going east on I-24 into Rutherford County where they crashed the car on the interstate and ran into the woods.

They were found around 7 p.m. at a home on Pruitt Road not far from where they crashed the Hickerson's Jeep.

“They’re lucky they’re alive,” said Swing.

"She had her hands clenched around some scissors -- probably something she grabbed as a defense mechanism," says Mills. "I had to pry her fingers away from the scissor to get them away from her."

Mills says it was a tricky situation. He wanted to keep the couple calm -- after all, they had just endured unimaginable trauma -- but he also needed information as fast as he could get it.

"These folks, they were very strong," Mills said. 

Deputy Mills says before taking off, the gunmen told the couple to stay tied up. They also told the couple that if they called 911, that they should give them the wrong description of them not to give police an accurate description of them. 

The fugitives also promised to call the couple later to tell them where they left the Jeep they stole. 

Investigators say It's a good thing the Hickersons were brave enough not to do what they were told. Otherwise, this all could have ended very differently.

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