• Escaped Georgia inmate kills himself as authorities closed in

    By: Chelsea Prince, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    Updated:

    GULF COUNTY, Fla. - UPDATE: 

    An escaped Georgia inmate who was named as the suspect in a fatal shooting over a botched drug deal in Florida earlier this week took his own life on Tuesday night as authorities closed in.

    The suspect, identified as 34-year-old Stephen Michael Smith, was spotted driving on a highway in Florida's Gulf County late Tuesday evening. As a task force from the United States Marshals Service and deputies from the Gulf County Sheriff's Office surrounded the car to apprehend him, Smith placed a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger.

    He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a press release from the sheriff's office.

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    Authorities in Florida have arrested a woman in connection with the shooting death of a 30-year-old man, but they are still looking for an escaped inmate from Georgia who they believe pulled the trigger. 

    In a news release Tuesday, officials announced they've arrested Destiny Jene Terry, 44, in the death of Daniel Lee Upton of Lakeland, Fla., whose body was discovered Monday morning in Gulf County, a sparsely populated area in the central Florida Panhandle.

    Authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to Stephen Michael Smith, 34, who is the suspected shooter. He was reported missing from his Clayton County transitional center Thursday after he did not return from work.

    The Georgia Department of Corrections issued a lookout for Smith on Tuesday. The U.S. Marshals Service offered the reward Tuesday afternoon.


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    Upton was found shortly after 10 a.m. Monday at a home on Sea Pines Lane, which is located yards from the beachfront in Port St. Joe., Gulf County officials said in the news release. 

    It's not clear if Smith and Upton knew each other.

    Interviews revealed Terry was present during the shooting and "helped facilitate the contact between Smith and Upton," the release said. 

    "The victim, prior to losing consciousness, identified Smith as the shooter and Terry as being present," the release said. 

    Terry is charged with principal to second-degree murder and was booked into the Gulf County Detention Facility, where she remains in custody. 

    "This is an isolated incident and there is no reason to believe that the general public is at risk," the Gulf County Sheriff's Office said on Facebook.

    Smith is described as 5 feet, 10 inches tall and about 180 pounds. He has brown hair and tattoos on his arms and neck.

    Smith has ties to the LaGrange area, according to the Troup County Sheriff's Office. He is serving a 10-year sentence for robbery out of that jurisdiction.

    Authorities in Florida have no information that Smith is headed to the Troup County area, but the sheriff's office is asking the public to be on the lookout. 

    No vehicle description has been released.

    Anyone who sees Smith should not attempt to apprehend him, authorities said. Call 911. 

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