Fugitive Accused of Killing Wife in Front of Kids When She Asked for Divorce Captured After 18-Month-Chase

Authorities allege Jonathan Bates killed his wife in 2017 and has been on the run since failing to show up to court in 2022

<p>Cynde Bates/Facebook; Dawson County Sheriff

Cynde Bates/Facebook; Dawson County Sheriff's Office

Cynthia "Cynde" Bates and Jonathan Bates

A Georgia man who has allegedly been on the run for a year and a half following his wife’s 2017 death was finally taken into custody on Tuesday.

The Dawson County Sheriffs Office announced on social media Tuesday that officers apprehended Jonathan Bates after he allegedly fled from authorities.

Dawson County jail records reviewed by PEOPLE show Bates, 44, was taken into custody just before 4 p.m. local time on Tuesday. He is being held without bond.

Bates is accused of murdering his wife in front of his two young children in 2017, and local WSB-TV in Atlanta, citing police, reports that he’s allegedly been on the run from authorities since failing to show up at a court appearance in the fall of 2022 related to the murder charges.

<p>Dawson County Sheriff's Office</p> Jonathan Bates

Dawson County Sheriff's Office

Jonathan Bates

The outlet has long reported on Bates’ case, which dates back to a 2017 fight he allegedly had with his wife Cynthia “Cynde” Bates, which Bates told police ended when he pushed his wife away from him, causing her to hit her head on the family’s couch.

The couple’s two young children, aged 4 and 7 years old at the time, were witnesses to the incident and ran to a neighbor’s house afterward, according to local Fox 5.

Cynde died in the hospital the next day after Bates told police she began to have trouble breathing, according to The Associated Press. An autopsy revealed that Cynde died from blunt-force trauma to the back of her head.

<p>Paulding County Sheriff's Office</p> Jonathan Bates

Paulding County Sheriff's Office

Jonathan Bates

Bates was then charged with murder, battery, and two counts of cruelty to children, but Paulding County Chief Judge Tony Beavers later threw out all the charges except the husband’s battery charge. The unexpected decision angered Cynde’s family and led to an online petition calling for Beavers’ removal from the bench, which gathered more than 11,600 signatures at the time.

Subsequently, however, a grand jury indicted Bates on a murder charge, WSB-TV reports.

"Her kids are lost without her," Bates' sister Sandy Dement told local WSB-TV in a 2017 interview. "Her family is lost without her. We don’t get to talk to her anymore."

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Dement told the outlet her sister “was a good mother" and “a good wife.” “She was good at everything,” Dement said. “And he just took advantage of her."

Cynde’s family remembered her as “a beautiful soul and so kind” in a GoFundMe at the time – someone who “would help anyone out if they needed help,” the family wrote.

It’s unclear whether Bates has an attorney and when he is scheduled to make his next court appearance.

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