By Ron Word
PALATKA, Fla. — Authorities searched Thursday for two men who escaped from a Florida jail and were suspected by law enforcement officers of killing a 66-year-old woman and ditching a stolen car hundreds of miles away in Kentucky.
Investigators said the car was taken from the home of one of the inmate's relatives, who was found dead hours after Wednesday's pre-dawn breakout. Putnam County Sheriff Jeff Hardy said the autopsy showed that Helen Googe was the victim of a homicide, but didn't say how she was killed.
Hardy said a nationwide alert was put out for the two men on an escape charge, and said they were considered suspects in the slaying but had not been charged with any other offenses. He said they should be considered armed and dangerous.
These photos, released by the Putnam County Sheriff's office, show Timothy Fletcher and Doni Ray Brown who broke out of prison in Palatka, Fla. Wednesday April 15, 2009. The pair was last seen in Monroe County, Ky. (AP photo)
Doni Ray Brown, 23, of Satsuma and Timothy Wayne Fletcher, 25, of Welaka, fled the jail about 4 a.m. Wednesday, authorities said. The two men shared a jail cell, but it wasn't clear how they escaped.
Later Wednesday, authorities said they discovered Googe's body. Hardy told The Palatka Daily News that Googe was Fletcher's step-grandmother. A stolen truck believed to be taken by the two inmates was found outside Googe's home, but her car was missing.
Chief Deputy Rick Ryan said an off-duty deputy spotted Googe's car in Jacksonville early Wednesday and thought it was unusual for two young men to be driving a Lincoln. The deputy's tip led investigators to Googe's home. Law enforcement officers in Monroe County, Ky., ultimately recovered the 1999 four-door Lincoln missing from Googe's home.
Kentucky State Trooper Billy Gregory said he had information from Florida authorities that the two were believed headed for Crawfordsville, Ind.
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Brown had been arrested Aug. 17 and charged with robbery with a firearm. Fletcher was arrested March 3 on three counts of failure to appear on an aggravated assault charge.