GA escapee had history of crime in Tennessee - WSMV News 4

GA escapee had history of crime in Tennessee

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Donnie Rowe (Source: Rutherford County Sheriff's Office) Donnie Rowe (Source: Rutherford County Sheriff's Office)

Donnie Rowe, one of two men alleged to have shot and killed two guards while escaping from a corrections transportation vehicle, is from Rutherford County.

Now he's back in the jail where he's been so many times before. Here in the same county where he surrendered to a terrified family on Thursday.

Rowe went to Smyrna High School, but dropped out and never finished.

Court records in Rutherford County show he began his life of crime here when he was just 15.

Rowe’s long criminal history in both Rutherford and Bedford counties range from burglaries and auto thefts to aggravated assault and battery charges. 

Rowe has also been arrested for robbery in Maury Co., Tenn., and served time for similar crimes in Florida and Georgia, which is where he escaped custody and killed two prison guards with fellow inmate, Ricky DuBose.

In 1992, he was arrested for jumping on the hood of his ex-girlfriend’s car, denting the hood and breaking the antenna. He tried to get away, but she drove away.

He was also involved in a domestic incident with a woman with whom he later married and had two children

Court records show Rowe’s father died when he was a year old. His mother remarried a year later, divorcing when he was an adult.

In a statement to a Bedford Co. probation officer, Rowe said his life "full of family now is very good and stable."

“This is the first time I've been taken away from my family," Rowe told the officer, according to court records. "I miss my daughter a lot. I just want to be back with them and get my life back in order.”

But that never happened.

When Channel 4's Haley Mason talked to his son on Thursday, Dalton Rowe says he never had much of a relationship with his dad, Donnie. Their sporadic conversations were mostly over a prison phone.

After that, Rowe committed probation violations, bail jumping, and burglarized a Murfreesboro comic book store.

He escaped from the Wayne County Boot Camp, a state-run facility.

He would eventually spend time in one of Tennessee’s toughest prisons, Brushy Mountain.

Rowe also spent time at a drug treatment facility when he was 19. Court documents say he admitted the use of drugs and alcohol as early as 16. The report said he preferred cocaine and the painkiller, Dilaudid. 

Now Rowe's story has come full-circle, and he’s now in custody in the jail where he served time throughout his life.

Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh talked about how dangerous the chase and capture on the interstate was for the public and his own deputies.

“We had two vehicles fired upon and hit,” said Fitzhugh. “The potential was there for two deputies that could have been hit, injured or killed. It’s a wonder there wasn’t a private citizen hurt or injured.”

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