'We don't want Chris to get lost':
Denise Monica and her daughters, Ashley and Zoey, say they think about Christopher Monica often.
He started as a corrections officer at Baldwin State Prison in 2011 and moved up the ranks.
"He became a sergeant, and when he became a sergeant, he always watched out for his people. There's not one that wouldn't tell you that," says Monica.
On the morning of June 13, 2017, Denise says she tried calling him, but he never answered.
Then she called the prison and eventually spoke to the warden.
"'I'm sorry, Mrs. Monica, but Sergeant Monica is deceased.' I fell to the floor, and that's all I remember," she says.
Investigators say it was around 6 a.m. when inmates Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe shot and killed Monica and his fellow officer Curtis Billue.
It happened on a prison transport bus passing through Putnam County.
Law enforcement launched a manhunt for Dubose and Rowe that crossed state lines.
PHOTOS | Corrections officers killed; Prisoners on the run
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills says the crime wave included carjacking and a home invasion both here and in Tennessee.
"Two corrections officers were brutally murdered and then a phenomenal crime wave after that across two different states. It doesn't get much worse than that," he says.
Now, Donnie Rowe is set to go to trial in August.
"A trial like this is an arduous task for everybody involved, but we're truly looking forward to getting it done and getting it behind us and hopefully getting it right on to Mr. Dubose," says Sills.
But between court hearings and COVID-19 restrictions, the road to trial has taken much longer than the officers' families expected, and the Monicas say all they can do is wait.
After years of staying silent and turning down interviews, Monica says she felt like now is the time to talk about her husband.
"We don't want Chris to get lost," she says.
Denise says in the walls of her home, that doesn't happen.
She still has a full house with her two daughters, two grandchildren, four dogs, and a cat, but she says without her best friend, it will never really feel like home.
"He was the man that every woman dreams of. If there's a 'Prince Charming,' he was Prince Charming," she says.
The Monica family says they will be front and center for Rowe's trial and when Dubose gets his day in court.
"We are Chris's face, period. The trial's gonna be difficult, we know that," she says. "4 years is too long."
Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe both face the death penalty if they are convicted of murdering sergeants Christopher Monica and Curtis Billue.
Both men have pleaded "not guilty."
Timeline of events in the Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe case:
On the morning of June 13, 2017, law enforcement officers were dispatched to Highway 16 in Putnam County after Ricky Dubose and Donnie Rowe allegedly shot and killed two Georgia Department of Corrections officers during a routine bus transport.
Sgt. Christopher Monica and Sgt. Curtis Billue were the two officers shot and killed while transporting the two escaped inmates.
TUESDAY, JUNE 13, 2017
11:00 p.m. -- The reward for the information that leads to the arrest of the inmates is now $70,000.
7:37 p.m. – Conyers police confirm they are investigating unconfirmed reports that the inmates have been sighted in the area.
6:30 p.m. – Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills confirms that at 2 p.m., the escaped inmates broke into a Madison home, ransacked the residence, and stole clothing and food. He says there is no reason to believe the inmates are still in the area. He says the reward leading to the capture of the two men has been raised to $30,000 a piece.
1:55 p.m. – The Georgia Department of Corrections releases the names of the two officers killed on the bus: Christopher Monica, 42, and Curtis Billue, 58.
1:45 p.m. – Gov. Nathan Deal announces, “No effort will be spared in pursuit of the killers, and no state resources required in this endeavor will be spared.”
11 a.m. – Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills holds a press briefing, confirming that Donnie Russell Rowe and Ricky Dubose are wanted for the murder of the guards. Sills said the men are armed with the officers’ 40-caliber pistols, and are “dangerous beyond belief.” The men are traveling in a 2004 green, four-door Honda Civic, with the Georgia license plate RBJ660.
8:27 a.m. – Police announce that Ricky Dubose and Donnie Russell Rowe are the two escaped inmates.
Approximately 6:45 a.m. – Two Georgia Department of Corrections guards are killed by two inmates on a bus carrying 33 prisoners and the two guards. The bus is traveling from the state prison in Hancock, Ga., to the Jackson, Ga., diagnostic facility, on Georgia Highway 16. The two escaped inmates then allegedly car jack a passing vehicle and rob the driver at gunpoint.
THURSDAY, JUNE 15, 2017
The nationwide manhunt continued over the next two days as people across the country searched for the two armed and dangerous men. Finally on Thursday afternoon, Robert Hickerson called 911 after the pair broke into his Bedford County home. Within three minutes, 45 police officers arrived and arrested the two men.
8 p.m. -- Gov. Nathan Deal tweeted that the inmates were captured following a car chase in Tenn.
2 p.m. -- Authorities investigated a reported sighting in South Carolina, but it ended being unfounded.
12 p.m. -- Sheriff Howard Sills had stern words to the suspects in a news conference.
June 21, 2017
Donnie Rowe and Ricky DuBose are charged with two counts of murder, one count of hijacking a motor vehicle and one count of escape. Putnam court officials released documents in the case after the two prison inmates made a first appearance.
April 17, 2018
Inmates Donnie Rowe and Ricky DuBose are charged with the shooting deaths of Sgt. Christopher Monica and Officer Curtis Billue. Rowe appeared in superior court in Putnam County to enter a "not guilty" plea.
June 27, 2019
When two corrections officers were shot and killed aboard a Georgia prison bus in 2017, eight inmates say they became victims, too. The eight sued the Georgia Department of Corrections and a slew of state prison officials, arguing that their civil rights were violated.
They claim that they were also injured during or after the June 13 fatal shootings of officers Curtis Billue and Christopher Monica. The inmates also claimed that they suffered post-traumatic stress since the fatal shootings.
August 10, 2019
A judge ruled to delay the trial of Ricky DuBose.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills says Judge Allison Burleson made the ruling in order to allow time for mental testing for DuBose. The defense argues Dubose does not have the mental capacity to legally face the death penalty. A new trial date was to be set for sometime after January.
October 24, 2019
A federal judge threw out lawsuits filed by eight Georgia prison inmates who argued that they were also victims when two corrections officers were shot and killed. Judge Tillman E. Self ruled that the inmates did not show that corrections officials' actions helped cause the killings or that they knew something like that likely to happen.
February 22, 2020
The city of McIntyre held a dedication for Department of Corrections Sergeant Curtis Billue. The city of McIntyre honored Billue with a special marker. It reads, "In memory and honor of those who serve and protect."
February 22, 2021
One of the two Georgia prisoners accused of killing two guards had his death penalty trial delayed after his lawyers raised concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic. During a video hearing, the judge agreed to delay the start of Donnie Rowe's trial from April 5 to Aug. 30.