Wife helps husband escape by shooting guards
KINGSTON, Tenn.*Aug 10, 2005 —*Police are checking suggestions that family members may be hiding a convicted robber and his wife, who authorities said gunned down a guard to help her husband escape outside a courthouse.
George Hyatte, in handcuffs and shackles, was headed back to prison from a court appearance Tuesday when Jennifer Hyatte drove up and fired at the two corrections officers escorting her husband, Police Chief Jim Washam said.
"Mr. Hyatte hollered, 'Shoot him!' She opened up fire on the officers, hitting one in the abdomen," Washam said.
One guard, Wayne "Cotton" Morgan, was killed; the other was not identified. Police also suspected one of the fugitives was wounded.
"It was just a 'Bonnie and Clyde'-style shootout," Mark Gwyn, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "These people are very desperate and don't have anything to lose at this point. They've already committed a murder, so we're treating them as some of the most dangerous fugitives we've ever tried to capture."
The bloody escape set off an extensive search. "We will be looking for them, running leads until we find them," Gwyn said.
George Hyatte, 34, was at the Roane County Courthouse to plead guilty in a deal with prosecutors over an armed robbery charge, Washam said.
His wife is a 31-year-old nurse who had been fired from her job at a prison in Tiptonville because of suspicions that she was having a relationship with Hyatte, Corrections Department spokeswoman Amanda Sluss said. Authorities said she had no criminal record.
Washam said authorities were preparing murder charges against the couple.
"We do have leads coming in on possible whereabouts, possibly some family members that may be hiding them out. We're trying our best to coordinate those," Washam said. "Right now, we can't say if they had any help."
Relatives appeared on television to urge George Hyatte to surrender.
"I want to tell my son, if you can hear me, George, you give yourself up, son," his mother, Edith Hyatte, said on WRCB-TV. "Please, give yourself up."
The Ford Explorer driven by Jennifer Hyatte was later found abandoned with blood on the driver's side, and police think she may have been wounded when the uninjured guard returned fire, Washam said. Authorities believe the pair switched from the SUV to a van.
George Hyatte, two years into a 35-year sentence on robbery and assault charges, "is extremely violent, and he has no care or concern on what he does to anyone," said Rhea County Sheriff's spokesman Jeff Knight.
A witness to the shooting, C.G. Gray, said Morgan never got his gun out of his holster.
Morgan, 56, who was not wearing a protective vest, died at the University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, about 30 miles east.
For The Permanent Forum Record
Please remember the officer that died so that this useless total human trash duo could shack up in a motel room for a short while.
You know I would fly these two Lovebird Leeches up to the North Pole & give them two sleeping bags - A TV Guide - 1 BIC Butane lighter - a knife & 4 Snickers Bars & then I would head for home.
"LOVE CONQUERS ALL" - let them both conquer the North Pole.
Fugitive Couple Captured at Ohio Hotel
Police Say Wife Shot Guard to Spring Husband from Prison
George Hyatte and Jennifer Forsyth Hyatte were in a room at an America's Best Value Inn in Columbus and were arrested without a struggle, said Mark Gwyn, director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
"We have found weapons," he said. "We don't know if it's the murder weapon, but we're processing those as we speak."
On Tuesday, authorities say Jennifer Hyatte, 31, ambushed two guards as they were leading her 34-year-old husband from a courthouse hearing in Kingston, Tenn., about 300 miles south of Columbus. Guard Wayne "Cotton" Morgan was fatally shot in the escape.
Jennifer Hyatte had some injuries, Gwyn said, but he declined to elaborate.
He said the couple would be brought back to Tennessee on warrants for first degree murder.
Authorities had already tracked the Hyattes to the Cincinnati area when they got a tip around 9 p.m. that the couple was at the Columbus motel. A cab driver who had apparently driven them to Columbus from Erlanger, Ky., just south of Cincinnati, called Erlanger police, U.S. Marshal John Schickel said.
He declined to give any additional information or identify the cab driver.
After the tip, authorities surrounded the Columbus motel, said John Bolen, a supervisor for the U.S. Marshals Service in Columbus.
Authorities called the motel room where the couple was staying, told them they were surrounded, and the couple came out of their room and surrendered around 10 p.m., Bolen said. They didn't say anything during the arrest, he said.
Jennifer Hyatte came out of the second-floor room with her hands up, said motel guest Robin Penn, who was watching from her first-floor window across the parking lot.
The woman was limping but followed officers' instructions to walk down the balcony to a stairwell and get on her knees, where she was handcuffed, Penn said. She said the man came out next, with his shirt pulled over his head. He walked backward toward the stairwell, then got on his knees and authorities handcuffed him, Penn said.
There were at least 25 officers on the motel balcony and in the parking lot, she said.
Earlier in the day, authorities had tracked down a van the couple was believed to have used, finding it outside a motel in Erlanger. The couple was gone, but authorities knew then that they were getting close.
Blood had been found in the motel room, and an employee at a nearby restaurant told federal agents she had given directions that day to a couple she later recognized as the fugitives.
Jennifer Hyatte had been a prison nurse when she met her future husband. She was fired last year for sneaking food to him but a few months later, she got permission from the warden to marry him.
George Hyatte had a long and violent criminal record. Before the escape Tuesday, he had been in court on a robbery charge.
It was at least the fifth time he had gotten way from law enforcement officials. The other escapes were from local authorities in east Tennessee in 1990, 1991, 1998 and 2002.