Monday, September 24, 2012

Emergency Manhunt - Mississippi

MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC SAFETY ALERT: Michael Dowda, serving life sentence for Harrison County murder, escapes from prison

A manhunt us underway for Mississippi State Penitentiary inmate Michael Dowda, who was discovered missing while on a work detail today around 3 p.m., the Mississippi Department of Corrections has announced.

Mississippi State Penitentiary inmate MICHAEL DOWDA, MDOC #R7390, is still at large. The Mississippi Department of Corrections’ Corrections Investigation Division along with the U. S. Marshal’s Service are searching for DOWDA, a 48-year old white male with brown eyes, brown hair, at 5’11” and 195 pounds. DOWDA is serving a LIFE sentence for homicide/murder from Harrison County.

DOWDA was discovered missing on Saturday, September 22, 2012, while on a work detail with maintenance at MSP around 3:00 p.m. He was last seen on MSP grounds wearing MDOC state-issued green and white striped pants with a white MDOC shirt.

DOWDA allegedly broke into a safe inside the home, on the prison grounds, of an MDOC employee and stole two (2) handguns. Authorities believe the inmate is driving a white 2005 Chevrolet Silverado Truck that he also allegedly stole from the same employee. The stolen truck has a silver tool box, Yalobusha County plates, and a MS disabled license plate number S0922. He is considered ARMED AND DANGEROUS.

According to court documents, Dowda was working in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 12, 1996, when he received a message that his girlfriend, Clarissa Lynn Jarrett, was going to a concert with her sister in Gulf Shores,

Ala. Dowda apparently drove non-stop from Orlando to the home he shared with Jarrett in Mississippi. Prior to leaving Florida, however, he obtained a .380 semi-automatic handgun.

He arrived in Mississippi at approximately 2 a.m. on Nov. 13, 1996, and Jarrett arrived home some four hours later.

Dowda confronted Jarrett concerning her whereabouts and an argument ensued. Dowda then threatened to kill himself with the gun. Dowda did not kill himself, but instead removed the clip from the gun, placed the gun in the closet and resumed arguing with Jarrett. At some point in the argument Jarrett admitted to having sexual relations with other men.

Dowda then took the gun from the closet, pressed the gun tightly against Jarrett's head and pulled the trigger, killing her instantly. Dowda apparently believed the gun to be unloaded because he had removed the clip from the gun. Instead, one bullet had remained in the chamber ready to be fired.

Dowda then buried Jarrett's body in a shallow grave near a hotel in Harrison County. He fled Mississippi several days later after he became the prime suspect in the police investigation. Dowda surfaced in Las Vegas in February 1997, when the woman he was living with at the time contacted the Las Vegas police.

She was concerned because she had found several notes written by Dowda indicating that he was wanted for murder in Mississippi. The Las Vegas police confirmed that there was an outstanding warrant for grand larceny for Dowda. The Harrison County Sheriff's Department also indicated to the Las Vegas police that Dowda was also wanted for questioning over Jarrett's disappearance.

The Las Vegas police executed the arrest warrant and took Dowda into custody. He gave a statement to the Las Vegas police admitting to his role in Jarrett's death and directed the police to where her body was buried. Dowda was returned to Mississippi where he was indicted for murder. Dowda waived his right to a jury trial, opting for a bench trial. Following the trial, Dowda was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Anyone with any information or sightings of DOWDA should contact local law enforcement or Mississippi Department of Corrections at 601-573-5613 or 662-745-6611. 

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