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Cabbie's tip leads to capture of fugitives

'Relieved' couple surrenders at Ohio motel




COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) -- A cab driver's tip led to the peaceful surrender of a married couple accused in a deadly Tennessee shootout, police said Thursday.

Police said Jennifer Forsyth Hyatte, 31, and George Hyatte, 34, gave up Wednesday at a Columbus, Ohio, motel, ending a regional manhunt for the suspected killer of a prison guard on Tuesday in Kingston, Tennessee. (Full story)

Taxi driver Mike Wagers said he picked up the couple in suburban Cincinnati -- about 100 miles away -- and drove them to Columbus.

Kundan Desai, manager of America's Best Value Inn, said Wagers booked the couple a room using his own name and paying in cash.

Acting on Wagers' tip, U.S. Marshal John Bolen said investigators surrounded the motel and then a deputy marshal called the Hyatte's room.

"The deputy ... said ... 'You're surrounded, your attempts to escape have come to an end, there's nowhere to go and we want this to go peacefully,'" Bolen said.

Bolen said the couple -- who appeared relieved -- surrendered "almost instantaneously" after learning the motel was surrounded.

"There was a sense of actual relief, in my opinion," Bolen said. "I don't think they had slept much, and I think they realized that the time had come that basically they were going to be captured, and they were going to have to face justice," he said.

Police asked Jennifer Hyatte to lay the phone down, walk to the door and open it. "That's what she did ... almost instantaneously," Bolen said.

A federal court hearing for the Hyattes was first set for Thursday and then re-scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m.

The couple was expected to be extradited to Roane County, Tennessee, to face first-degree murder charges, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said.

Police said Jennifer Hyatte had suffered a gunshot wound to one of her legs in Tuesday's escape and was treated at a Columbus hospital and released to authorities.

George Hyatte, who police said escaped Tuesday while wearing handcuffs and leg irons, was no longer shackled when police arrested him at the motel, TBI Director Mark Gwyn said.

Before authorities converged on the Columbus motel, police had arrived at another motel outside Cincinnati in Erlanger, Kentucky, where the couple was thought to be staying.

"They had just left probably minutes prior to the entry to the rooms," Gwyn said.

Police searched the motel and confiscated a gold van that the couple was thought to have used to leave Kingston.

Cabbie's 'guard was down'

Wagers, 33, said he didn't realize he had picked up the fugitives until he was alerted to TV reports later that evening.

He said his suspicions weren't aroused by anything the couple said, except that they didn't try to aggressively recruit him after telling him they were Amway salespeople.

"You know, Amway people are all about Amway, and when they didn't -- when they didn't try any conversation further about it, that's when I pretty much thought, well, they're not with Amway," Wagers said.

Wagers said he picked the couple up around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, stopped at a gas station, and they paid him $200 in cash for the $185 fare.

"You know, I didn't feel uncomfortable," Wagers said. "I'd been paid. Really, my guard was really down."

During the ride, he said, he and his passengers "chitchatted about nonsensical things" and they told him they were from Virginia. They also explained that they were taking a cab to Columbus for an Amway conference because they had been involved in a car accident the day before.

Wagers said he didn't see any injuries on the woman, but she was limping a bit as she got out of the cab in Columbus.

He said he called local police around 8 p.m. and soon got calls from the U.S. Marshals Service and Columbus police. Marshals came to his home and interviewed him, he said, and he got a call from Columbus police a few hours later telling him the Hyattes had been arrested.

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