MILTON, Fla. (AP) — The search for a Missouri couple suspected in a series of robberies and abductions in Alabama and Georgia ended in the Florida Panhandle early Friday with authorities there saying the man is dead and the woman taken into custody.
Blake Fitzgerald died and Brittany Nicole Harper was wounded and taken to a local hospital, according to a statement from the Escambia County Sheriff's Office.
No other details were immediately released, but local news outlets report that shots were fired after a chase.
Authorities have linked Fitzgerald and Harper to a series of crimes in Alabama and Georgia, saying the offenses fit a similar pattern: People are robbed, kidnapped and let go unharmed, usually after a vehicle is stolen.
Before that, police in Joplin, Missouri, had wanted to interview the two about a Jan. 22 break-in there in which guns were stolen from a home. The couple is also suspected in two Florida robberies in Walnut Hills and Destin on Wednesday, U.S. Marshals spokesman Martin Keely said.
Calling them a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde, the U.S. Marshals announced Thursday that they were offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to their arrest.
Fitzgerald and Harper have been charged with robbing and abducting a hotel clerk in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and taking his car to the Birmingham area. The clerk was let go in the upscale suburb of Vestavia Hills, where a woman was briefly abducted by two people who stole her family's Ford Edge SUV.
On Monday night, a gunman held up a young clerk at a Murphy Express station along Interstate 75 in south Georgia, taking money from the safe and cigarettes before forcing the clerk into an SUV where his female accomplice waited, authorities said. The couple drove about 15 miles before releasing the clerk unharmed, Perry police Lt. Ken Ezell said.
The hotel clerk who was abducted in Alabama, Kyle Dease, told Al.com that he spoke with his captors during the nearly two hours he was held on the drive from Tuscaloosa to metro Birmingham. Dease said they told him they hoped to make it to Florida to get married and start a new life together.
The man also told Dease he did not plan on going back to prison.