Smartphone owners in southern Ulster County received alarming messages last Friday night from the New York State Police, alerting them to lock their doors and be on the lookout for two armed fugitives from Tennessee who were believed to be in the vicinity of Gardiner or Shawangunk. By Saturday morning a sighting of the pair in the Town of Pine Bush in Orange County had been confirmed in a press release from State Police Troop F in Middletown.
As of presstime, the most recent State Police bulletins indicated that the couple appeared to be heading south. “Last verified sighting was at the Wal-Mart in Matamoras, Pennsylvania on June 24, 2017 at 7:30 a.m.,” read one. “All police agencies in the immediate area have been aware of the sighting and the investigation is continuing.”
On Monday, another update stated that earlier on Saturday, June 24, a home invasion had occurred on Altamont Road in the Town of Bloomingburg. The incident, which took place at approximately 3:44 a.m., involved minor injuries and the robbery of personal effects from the homeowner. The Middletown Times Herald-Record identified the head injury victim as Robert Grumet, 66, of 11 Altamont Road, located in the Lake Altamont Association private community near the Eagle’s Nest restaurant.
Asked whether the suspects in the house break-in had been identified as the same Tennessee couple earlier spotted in Ulster County, Troop F public information officer Steven Nevel said on Monday that the investigation was still ongoing: “We’re looking into that to determine if the two are related.”
The two fugitives have been identified by Tennessee law enforcement agencies as Jarrett Cole “Shroom” Heitmann, 24, and Makayla Danielle Stilwell, 22. According to the Times-News of Kingsport, Tennessee, the young white couple allegedly abducted an unidentified woman from her home in the Town of Mount Carmel, Tennessee, assaulted her and used her to lure an acquaintance of hers, Dustin Bishop, 34, out of his mobile home in Bloomingdale, Tennessee. Local police report that Heitmann then allegedly shot Bishop in the chest, leaving him in serious condition. The couple then fled north, traveling in a mid-90s model gray or light-black Chevy S10 pickup.
Both Heitmann and Stilwell are wanted by Tennessee police for attempted second-degree murder, reckless endangerment, aggravated kidnapping, two counts of aggravated assault and especially aggravated robbery. A spokesman for the Sullivan County (Tennessee) Sheriff’s Office said that Heitmann is armed at least with handguns and possibly an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, and that Stilwell should be regarded as potentially armed and dangerous as well.
According to the New York State Police, Heitmann is described as six feet one inch in height and 165 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes; Stilwell as five feet nine inches and 145 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes. Trooper Nevel said it was not known whether the pair were currently traveling by car or on foot. Tips from witnesses about the whereabouts of the fugitives should be reported immediately to the State Police in Middletown at (845) 344-5300.