Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

911 Calls Shape Frantic Search for Putnam Escapees; the Accused Jailbirds Ran out of Gasoline. Why They Returned to the Area Is Unknown

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

911 Calls Shape Frantic Search for Putnam Escapees; the Accused Jailbirds Ran out of Gasoline. Why They Returned to the Area Is Unknown

Article excerpt

Byline: DANA TREEN

A four-day escape and crime spree for two Putnam County jail inmates started collapsing Saturday when they ran out of gas and went looking for a ride, according to the 911 tapes of their capture.

As a Lake Como man was on the phone with 911 dispatchers about two men he thought might be the fugitives, Timothy Wayne Fletcher, 25, and Doni Ray Brown, 23, the two walked up and asked for help.

While Billy Morris kept the phone line open, either Fletcher or Brown asked if he had some gas, apparently not suspecting they had been recognized. When Morris said no, he was asked for help.

"Can you give us a ride to Lake Como real quick?" the man asked.

"Hang on a second," Morris replied, then told the dispatcher to send someone while he talked with the two men later confirmed as Fletcher and Brown.

Before they walked up, Morris said he thought they were rummaging in his barn.

"The neighbors think it might be them two guys that killed that lady," he said, in reference to the strangling of Helen Key Googe, Fletcher's step-grandmother. Googe was found dead in her house and her car was stolen the day Fletcher and Brown escaped by prying a toilet loose from a wall and opening a space to crawl through.

Four days later, after a spree that investigators believe took them to Kentucky and Tennessee, the pair returned to Putnam County.

After failing to get gas or a ride from Morris, the escaped inmates started walking away.

Morris and neighbor Roger Easterling followed, according to a second 911 conversation.

By the time Fletcher and Brown had disappeared into the woods off Huntington Shortcut Road, Putnam County authorities had begun calling in as many as 80 law enforcement officers and backups, including helicopters from Volusia and St. Johns counties, the tapes reveal. …

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