SEARCH EXPANDS: McCloud sightings reported in Claiborne County, Madison Parish

Published 9:57 am Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The search for Rafael McCloud continued Monday, with authorities moving outside Vicksburg and Warren County to respond to reports of sightings in Claiborne County and Madison Parish, La.

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace declined to discuss the reports, saying he would not comment on specific areas where officers may be looking for the escapee.

McCloud, 34, who is awaiting trial for capital murder and other charges in the June 28 abduction and death of Sharen Wilson, escaped from the jail about 5:30 a.m. March 2 after using a shank, or homemade knife, to assault and overpower one of the three guards on duty at the jail.

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“We are following up every lead, every tip,” Pace said. “We don’t just have Warren County sheriff’s deputies working, but Vicksburg police, state officers and agents with the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force, and we have other agencies assisting us and looking. We are working tirelessly to find Rafael McCloud.”

While authorities continue their search for the fugitive, several groups are working to make the reward for turning him in an offer someone can’t refuse.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Friday approved a $5,000 reward in addition to the $2,500 offered by Crimestoppers for information leading to McCloud’s capture.

On Monday, the Warren County Board of Supervisors added $2,500 to the reward.

Also on Monday, a group called Seeking Justice for Sharen Wilson announced on Facebook it is attempting to raise $10,000 in private donations through the website “Go FundMe” to match an existing $10,000 reward offered for information on McCloud’s whereabouts.

Since McCloud’s escape, sheriff’s deputies assisted by Vicksburg police and state and federal law enforcement agencies have concentrated their efforts in the northern part of the city, where authorities said he was known to have lived and has friends and relatives.

Pace said officers will continue to search for him in the city until they have verified proof that he has left the area.

Search teams multiple times revisited the Kuhn Memorial Hospital property, where McCloud is accused of killing Wilson, and where officers March 3 found a pair of pants he took from the jail guard.

Teams Friday searched all three buildings on the property floor-by-floor in an effort to find him. Thursday, they used a Mississippi High Patrol infrared-equipped helicopter to scan the building and other areas without results.

McCloud, who had been in the Warren County Jail since his arrest June 29, was indicted in January on multiple counts involving Wilson’s death, 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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