Escaped Mississippi Inmate Captured in Macon

12:31 PM, Sep 25, 2012   |    comments
Escaped Mississippi inmate Michael Dowda was captured in Macon. (Bibb County Jail)
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JACKSON, Miss. (Clarion-Ledger) - Convicted killer Michael Blan Dowda, who escaped from the State Penitentiary at Parchman Saturday, was captured early Tuesday morning in Georgia.

U.S. Marshal's Service officials took Dowda into custody in Macon, Ga., around 12:30 a.m. Details on his arrest have not been released.

He faces extradition to Mississippi and multiple charges including escape.

Dowda, 48, broke into a home on the prison grounds and stole two handguns from a safe, said Tara Booth, spokeswoman for the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

He then allegedly stole that MDOC employee's white 2005 Silverado truck with a silver tool box and Yalobusha County disability tag number S0922 and drove away.

Court documents show that Dowda was serving time for the depraved-heart murder of his girlfriend, Lynette Jarrett, 25, of Woolmarket.

The killing occurred in November 1996 when Dowda learned that Jarrett was going to a concert in Alabama with her sister. Armed with a .380 semi-automatic handgun, he drove home nonstop from a job in Orlando, Fla. He arrived early the next day, confronting Jarrett when she arrived. He threatened to kill himself, then took the clip out of the gun, put the gun in a closet and continued the argument.

After Jarrett admitted to having had sex with other men, Dowda got the gun out, put it to her head and pulled the trigger.

He told officials he thought the gun was empty, but there was still a bullet in the chamber.

After Dowda killed Jarrett, he dug a grave about four feet deep and buried her. Then he fled to Las Vegas.

He lived there for a few months before a woman who lived with him found notes he had written indicating he might be wanted for murder in Mississippi.

When she contacted police, they confirmed an outstanding warrant for grand larceny for Dowda in Mississippi. The Harrison County Sheriff's Department also told the Las Vegas police that he was wanted for questioning in Jarrett's disappearance.

The Las Vegas police took Dowda into custody, and he gave them a statement admitting to his role in Jarrett's death. He then directed the police to where her body was buried. Shortly after, he was indicted for murder.

Dowda also has prior experience in fleeing. He escaped from Harrison County Jail as he awaited trial.

Dowda's prior escape was in September 1998. According to Harrison County Sheriff's Department officials, Dowda and three other inmates escaped the Harrison County Jail by climbing through roof vents.

They tied sheets together to climb down an outside wall. Dowda was the last of the four to be captured the next day. He was found hiding in a trash can outside a state Crime Lab building in Gulfport.

Dowda's escape charge and grand larceny charge were passed to court files when he was convicted of the depraved-heart murder.

Court documents say Dowda waived his right to a jury trial, opting for a bench trial in which he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Dowda has appealed the sentence multiple times, saying his crime should have been manslaughter rather than murder, but the court found that Dowda's act of "placing the gun to Jarrett's head was eminently dangerous and evinced a depraved-heart, demonstrating complete disregard for Jarrett's life."

Mississippi Court of Appeals judge Tyree Irving dissented, saying, "I have no difficulty finding that the act of placing a gun, believed to be unloaded, against the head of another and pulling the trigger is an act eminently dangerous to the other. However, I cannot agree that if the actor has removed the clip and believes the gun to be unloaded, he acts with a depraved heart, regardless of human life. ... I do believe, however, that Dowda is guilty of manslaughter; therefore, I would reverse and remand this case for sentencing under the manslaughter statute."

Dowda would have been eligible for parole after he turns 65.

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