Search continues for murder suspect

Published 8:33 am Friday, March 4, 2016

The search for Warren County Jail escapee Rafael McCloud centered around the abandoned Kuhn Hospital.

McCloud, 34, escaped from the Warren County Jail early Wednesday morning after assaulting and overpowering a guard.

“Kuhn was just one of the places we searched,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said, adding the green pants McCloud took from the guard in the escape were found on the property. “We searched many other places besides there, and searched other buildings, vacant and occupied. Once again, we’re asking the public if they have any information about the escape or McCloud to call 911 or Crimestoppers. They don’t have to give their name.”

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A reward for information leading to McCloud’s capture has been created and those with information are asked to contact Crimestoppers at 601-355-8477 (TIPS).

Warren County Sheriff’s deputies, police and officers with the U.S. Marshal’s Service began searching the Kuhn property and its abandoned buildings early Thursday after a resident reported seeing McCloud in the area around the abandoned property.

Authorities were assisted in their search by the Mississippi Highway Patrol’s infrared-equipped helicopter, which flew over the hospital property and the other search areas several times.

“The helicopter is another tool; another set of eyes for us to use in the search,” Pace said.

McCloud, who is awaiting trial for the murder of Sharen Wilson last June, escaped from the jail about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday after using a shank, or homemade knife, to assault and overpower one of the three guards on duty at the jail, Pace said.

McCloud was last seen wearing green pants and a black jacket; however, Pace said the pants were recovered Wednesday night.

He swapped clothes with the guard and held him hostage until he was able to leave the jail through a side door, taking the guard’s keys and radio, which were later recovered near the jail.

Pace said the guard was not injured and is on administrative leave with pay pending the investigation into the escape. He said the shank McCloud used to threaten the guard was not recovered, and investigators were reviewing security video to determine what was used to make the weapon. Pace said McCloud is considered armed and dangerous.

Pace said the investigation into the escape was being performed internally with help from outside agencies.

Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong said some of the searches and investigation has also included some of McCloud’s family in the city.

At one point Wednesday, police officers, deputies, agents with Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics, and wildlife and fisheries agents surrounded a building at the Dixieanna Hotel on South Washington Street after receiving word McCloud was there, but they were unable to find him.

McCloud, who had been in the Warren County Jail since his arrest in late June, was indicted on multiples counts involving Wilson’s death in January, and has prior felony convictions for auto burglary, grand larceny and armed robbery, according to court records.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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