Authorities charged Donnie Allen Hulett with fatally shooting brothers Arvine and Larry Phelps on Monday, July 22, while they were doing volun-teer work at the Mountain Top Boys’ Home in Villanow. Hulett drove away from the crime in a red 2000 Ford F-150 pickup he stole from Larry Phelps.
Larry Phelps, 62, was a retired Whitfield County educator, and Arvine Phelps, 69, was a retired Dalton State College professor.
Maj. Hill Morrison of the Walker County Sheriff’s Department, in a news conference Friday afternoon in front of the department, said local authorities coordinated with Casa Grande police to capture Hulett around 11 a.m. Friday.
The arrest followed an anonymous tip to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, or GBI, which may have come from an acquaintance of Hulett who was wiring money to him at a Western Union branch in an Arizona convenience store.
When officers stopped Hulett and charged him with the two murder warrants, he said he didn’t know what they were talking about, Morrison said.
Local law enforcement agents were surprised to find Hulett in Arizona, believing he had fled to Florida, Morrison said. Casa Grande is about 30 miles south of Phoenix, Morrison said. Morrison, on Friday, he did not know why Hulett had fled to Arizona or where he was staying and did not know whether Hulett had any family there.
Representatives from the Walker Sheriff’s Department and GBI were expected to fly to Arizona Saturday morning, Aug. 3, Morrison said. If Hulett waives his rights, he will be brought back to Walker County to stand trial; otherwise, authorities must begin extradition procedures.
No weapons were recovered, he said.
Hulett was still driving the stolen truck bearing Georgia license tag num-ber 1105 ABN. He had swapped vehicle tags with a 1997 white Ford F-150 pickup in Lumber City, Wheeler County, according to authorities. Wheeler County, in south Georgia, borders Telfair County, where Hulett was last re-ported seen until his arrest.
Walker Sheriff Steve Wilson said investigators believe Hulett heard chainsaws in the woods, armed himself with a stolen 30.06 Smith and Wesson rifle, and went into the woods toward the sounds. He saw the men cutting wood and fatally shot them from about 70 yards away before stealing the red pickup, he said.
Morrison said the victims’ families had been notified of Hulett’s arrest.
Segment will still air
Fox TV's "America's Most Wanted," which planned to air a segment on the murder, said the segment will run this weekend, even though Hulett has been captured.
A "Most Wanted" crew came to Walker County on Sunday, July 28, to film a reconstruction of the crime, with plans to broadcast it as a way to help capture the fugitive.
The show is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Saturday.