VALDOSTA -- Lowndes County Sheriff's deputies captured a pair wanted in connection with a North Carolina bank robbery early Thursday morning.

Richard Charles Dowless, 45, Whittier, N.C., and Tracy Ann Gifford, Anderson, S.C., 32, await pickup by federal marshals today, Sheriff Ashley Paulk said.

The robbery occurred in Sylva, N.C., on Thursday, and officials think the pair headed south. Approximately $2,100 was taken from the bank.

Dowless is facing charges for bank robbery, while Gifford is facing charges of felony aiding and abetting.

Members of Interstate Criminal Enforcement team captured the pair at the 14 mile marker as they headed toward Florida in a green 1994 Ford Taurus, LCSO Detective Bryce Whitener said.

The ICE team did not locate any cash from the bank heist, Whitener said.

He said the deputies were told to look for the car that was possibly occupied by two subjects who were involved in a bank robbery. What officers did not know at the time was the car had been taken from a dealership for a test drive and not returned.

"The FBI will be prosecuting this case in North Carolina," Paulk said. "We will not charge them locally for transporting a stolen vehicle across state lines or for the weapons charge."

Dowless was released from the North Carolina Department of Corrections Feb. 13, 2003, where he had served since May 22, 1981, for second-degree murder, North Carolina DOC records stated.

Paulk said the dedication of the ICE team in catching interstate criminals is strong.

"This arrest is another example that the ICE team is protecting the citizens of Lowndes County."



To contact Tanya B. O'Berry, call 244-3400, ext. 239.

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