A Byron woman didn't get the house warming gift she was expecting. That was an escaped inmate hiding in her basement.

Around 7:30 p.m Tuesday night Police Chief Wesley Cannon said inmate Jonathan Pettigrew was being taken from the Peach County jail to the Byron police station to have his fingerprints re-taken.

"The officer arrived here at the scene, he opened his rear door to get Mr. Pettigrew out...I believe Mr. Pettigrew pushed the officer as he come out of the door," said Cannon.

The inmate, handcuffed and wearing sandals, ran to the woods behind the police station. Police surrounded the woods and alerted the community via automated phone calls.

Chandler knew something was wrong when she saw helicopters flying low. "I could tell they were looking for somebody so it wasn't very long after that the law officials came to the door and they told me somebody had escaped," said Chandler.

Chandler says police checked her basement but didn't find anything. But later on, while she was outside with her German Shepherd, Luka, things changed.

"I heard some limbs breaking like somebody was walking around in the yard so I kind of looked toward my backyard, my dog wanted to take off and I was holding him back and right as I looked up I saw the guy in the orange jump suit," said Chandler.

Chandler yelled out to alert police who were nearby. "They came up and I told them he was in the backyard. So they went running back there to find him. They were gonna come back towards the front of the yard and I said no he never passed on the other side of the house. He's got to be in my basement," said Chandler.

And that's where they found him. "I owe my thanks to my dog really, he's my protector," said Chandler.

Pettigrew is from Milledgville and he was originally charged with stealing several checks from a Peach County woman. He is scheduled to make a first appearance before a magistrate judge Thursday morning.

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