A multi-jurisdictional manhunt spanning at least two counties can all be traced back to a misunderstanding over a watch bought Sunday in Albany.
Bobby Smith was finishing out his sentence at the Albany Transitional Center after serving several years in prison. He told his ex-wife that he bought a watch Sunday, but the store clerk thought he had stolen the item, so he panicked and ran away.
He's been on the run since Sunday, when he failed to report back to the center.
While still on the run, Smith walked into the Bronwood City Hall Wednesday morning about 9:30 and asked to use the phone. He made three calls over a 20 minute period, and then left. City workers thought he was suspicious and called police.
We now know that one of the calls he made was to his ex-wife on the west coast, and he related the watch story to her. Lee County Reggie Rachals confirms this information.
Corrections Department officials call to count inmates housed in the Albany Transitional Center, as law enforcement continues to try to track down the 58-year-old Smith.
"We've been in touch with the U.S. Marshals office, and they also, if they hear anything, they're gonna call us," said Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals.
"I'd like for Bobby to know that I know he's afraid that no one will believe him. But he needs to come in safe," said his ex wife Elvie Franklin.
"He shouldn't have panicked. He should have told them what happened and dealt with it," said Rachals.
Smith walked into the Bronwood City Hall Wednesday morning and asked to use the phone, claiming his car was broken down.
"We're always cautious in here and we kind of felt like something might have been up," said Davina Davila, City Supervisor.
Davila called police after he left, but had no idea he was a wanted man. "How come it wasn't out that this man was... had escaped, or they didn't know his whereabouts? People need to know these things."
The Lee County Sheriff doesn't know why notifications of an escaped convict weren't sent out.
"After talking to the U.S. Marshals last night, you know, we was under the understanding that you know, quicker calls next time and let us know something. But you know, they really didn't know where he was at the time, so I guess they didn't want to panic folks," said Rachals.
Franklin says the father of two was worried about disappointing his daughter. Now she's asking him to turn himself in.
"He can call 911 and talk to deputy... ask for deputy Jake Williams and he will get home safe. His family needs him alive. And his best bet is to surrender," said Franklin.
Whatever the reason, Smith is in big trouble for absconding from the Transitional Center, and he faces several years in prison for this escape.
After an unsuccessful Wednesday night sweep, authorities are still scouring the countryside in the vicinity of the Terrell County-Lee County line in search of Bobby Smith.
Soon, deputies from both sheriffs' offices, state troopers, and U.S. Marshals spent hours looking for Bobby Smith after a trooper said he spotted him Wednesday afternoon, near the Kinchafoonee Creek Bridge, on Highway 118.
Officers want you to keep an eye out for Smith.
"If something going on abnormal in the area definitely give us a call, Terrell county a call or any local agency and they will get info back out to us, to where we can check the area, make sure it's not the person we are looking for," said Sheriff Reggie Rachals.
Bobby Smith was convicted of murder in Dekalb County in 1987. He is 54-years old. He's 5-8 and 220 pounds. If you see him, call 911.