When taxi driver Mike Wagers picked up a couple outside Cincinnati Wednesday, he had no idea authorities considered them armed and extremely dangerous.
He had no clue they were wanted in Tuesday's escape from, and fatal shooting of a guard at, a courthouse in Kingston, Tenn. And he had no way of knowing he was about to become a key player in.
According to police, Jennifer Hyatte, 31, ambushed two guards as they were leading her 34-year-old husband, inmate George Hyatte, from a hearing in Kingston, Tenn.
A guard was shot and killed, and Jennifer was shot as well, police add.
Officials say the Hyattes were still on the lam when Wagers drove them to Columbus, Ohio.
But he says little they said or did made him think anything was amiss.
"The cover story they gave me didn't really seem to wash too much," Wagers
They claimed they were heading to a sales conference of Amway, the household goods manufacturer. But, says Wagers, "They didn't strike me as the Amway type, because, to be honest, they weren't very pushy about their product. And I've dealt with (Amway salespeople) before. So that was my only real suspicion.
"But they paid me for the trip, so I had no outward reason to suspect that these were bad people."
Didn't he notice that the woman was injured? "I didn't notice anything 'til we had gotten there. When I was dropping them off at the hotel room, she was favoring one side. I don't know actually where she was injured at. But she said … she'd gotten banged up in a car wreck she was in. It didn't raise any further suspicion."
Wagers says a friend's suggestion led to his tip to police: "I had already made it all the way back home. I was done for the day. I was actually sitting at home, playing some video games. Then a friend of mine called me up and said, 'Hey, you took some folks … up to Columbus, right?' I said, 'Yeah.' Then he said, 'You need to call the police.' "
"We get all kinds in the cab," Wagers continued. "And I didn't figure they were up to no good. I had no clue. I was really caught off guard by this."
Wagers admits he "didn't get much sleep, just thinking about how this could have turned out."