INDIAN MOUND, TN (WSMV) - Accused killer Kirby Wallace was arrested Friday morning after a seven-day manhunt spanning Montgomery and Stewart counties.
Hundreds of law enforcement officers from across the state had been working to find 53-year-old Wallace, who was on the TBI's Top 10 Most Wanted list.
Around 2 a.m. Friday, search crews focused their efforts around a "hot zone" in Stewart County.
Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew and Henry County Cpl. Stacey Bostwick went into the woods off Wildcat Creek Road, a little ahead of the hot zone. Belew and Bostwick were hiding in two deer stands when they spotted Wallace about 40 yards away around 10:15 a.m. Friday. The sheriff called it "sheer luck."
Belew said he waited until Wallace was about 25 yards away when he told him to stop and held him at gunpoint with his AR-15.
Belew said Wallace was cooperative at first but later stepped behind a tree and put his hands around his waist. The sheriff said he anticipated a firefight with Wallace, who eventually put his hands back up and got down onto his knees.
"We were very fortunate that we didn't wind up in a shootout with the suspect up there. It crossed his mind because he told us it crossed his mind. He just told us we had the drop on him, so he didn't take that action," Belew said.
Wallace reportedly had a loaded pistol in his waistband when they found him. He is being taken to the Stewart County Jail.
Wallace will make his first court appearance on Tuesday in Stewart County.
"We can get back to a sense of normalcy knowing that this criminal is in custody and will face justice for what he has done," said Montgomery County Sheriff John Fuson.
CLICK HERE to watch the full press conference following Wallace's arrest.
"To say that we're grateful doesn't do it justice. I want to say thank you to the citizens across this area, your vigilant support, your prayers have made all the difference. I can't say thank you enough to all our local partners who have gone above and beyond to serve the past couple of days," said TBI Assistant Director Dewayne Johnson.
On Thursday, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office announced that the reward for Wallace's capture had been increased to $20,000. The U.S. Marshals Service, Gov. Bill Haslam and the TBI contributed to the fund. It's not clear at this time what will happen to the reward money.
Montgomery and Stewart County homicide suspect Kirby G. Wallace in cuffs in a Stewart County Sheriff’s patrol car! pic.twitter.com/OWqeT3Q8yY— TN Highway Patrol (@TNHighwayPatrol) October 5, 2018
KIRBY WALLACE HAS BEEN ARRESTED! Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew and Henry County Corporal Stacey Bostwick apprehended Kirby G. Wallace in Stewart County! pic.twitter.com/CRzY6ZpXLG— TN Highway Patrol (@TNHighwayPatrol) October 5, 2018
As of Thursday, the Montgomery County 911 center had received at least 400 tips with information on the whereabouts of Wallace.
Search teams had to navigate difficult terrain and extreme heat. Several officers received treatment for dehydration. At least one person had to be transported to the hospital for heat-related ailments. One other officer injured his or her ankle.
The GIS Center helped crews with the difficult circumstances by providing topographical maps to assist their search.
After seven days, neighbors in the area were anxious for their lives to return to normal.
One neighbor told News4 that he hadn't slept for three or four days.
"Everybody wants him caught. I want to be able to do my dishes without worrying someone will bust down my door," the neighbor said.
Heather Holmes remembers her mother, Suzanne Hollyfield, telling her about the attack.
On Wednesday, there were several reported sightings of Wallace, but none of them panned out.
Around 12:40 a.m. Wednesday, a resident in the 4000 block of Poplar Springs Road in Montgomery County reported that a man tried to enter his porch and then ran off into the woods. He said the man was armed.
Shortly after this, the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office received another call at 12:49 a.m. about suspicious activity in the area, which is when they established a second search perimeter.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, police said they thought they saw Wallace from a helicopter heading east.
Around 8 p.m. Wednesday, officers thought they spotted Wallace in the woods, but it was a Dickson County officer who was involved in the search.
Police had been actively looking for Wallace since Sept. 22 when they believe he tied up and assaulted a couple in Indian Mound after they walked in on him burglarizing their home. He also allegedly set fire to the home and fled in the couple's car. The female victim, Brenda Smith, did not survive.
The Montgomery County sheriff said evidence and witness statements lead them to believe that Wallace was involved in the shooting death and theft that happened near the intersection of Poplar Springs and Welker roads on Monday morning. The name of the victim has not yet been released.
Sheriff John Fuson said the sheriff's office received a 911 call from a juvenile at 9:24 a.m. on Welker Road. The juvenile said he saw someone walking wearing camo and carrying a pistol.
At 9:25 a.m., there was a report of gunshots in the area, and at 9:26 a.m., a witness saw a car leave the area driving the vehicle of the man at the Welker Road address.
Fuson said the F-350 truck was found crashed out at 10:03 a.m. in the area of Cumberland City and Frankie roads. It is believed that Wallace left the area on foot.
Officials with the Stewart Co. Sheriff's Office confirmed Sunday that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation was called in to assist with a brutal crime in Indian Mound, Tenn.
TBI spokeswoman Susan Niland said the terrain was extremely challenging, including thick underbrush, hills and valleys. It didn't help that Wallace was already familiar with the area.
The TBI had a dozen agents on the ground and was using a plane to assist with the search. They flew the aircraft at night and during the day, along with heat-seeking technology. Agents were also working on the search from TBI headquarters.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol had 50 troopers join the search and were using two helicopters in rotating shifts.