Sheriff Sills responds to public outcry over inmate capture misinformation

Sheriff Howard Sills (center) addresses the media regarding the size of the reward for the capture of two escaped inmates on June 15 / Matt Thielke (WGXA)

EATONTON, Ga. -- Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills is taking responsibility for some confusion that arose after the capture of two inmates who escaped from a Georgia Prison bus in Putnam County regarding the reward for their apprehension.

In a press conference shortly after the capture of the two inmates on Thursday, Sills stated that it appears that the approximately $130,000 in reward money would not be paid out because the two men simply surrendered to deputies.

However, Sills stated in a press release posted to the sheriff's office website on Saturday that subsequent information indicated that authorities in Rutherford County, Tenn., where the fugitives were caught, were aided in the men's capture by civilians, including one family who was held captive by the men in their home.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation released a statement on Friday indicating that the reward money will be distributed to those Tennessee citizens.

"There has apparently be a great outcry from the public regarding the misinformation about the reward monies," Sills said in his statement on Saturday. "I, and I alone, take FULL RESPONSIBILITY for any confusion regarding this issue, but I have tried to be as open and informative as I could possibly be without jeopardizing our criminal case and have done so to the best of my abilities."

Furthermore, Sills said that he was initially told that a man in Tennessee held the escapees at gunpoint until deputies arrived, an assertion that he told media outlets at a press conference. It turns out that this was not exactly true, either.

"For those who are not satisfied with my explanations related to this matter, I would only ask that you direct all of your displeasure to ME personally," Sills continued in his statement. "You may continue to complain, spew venom, and denigrate me to your heart’s content for this is one old war horse who can take it."

Sills said that he is actively looking into facts about who or whom is entitled to the reward and is confident that payments will be made.

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