Mississippi Escapee Nabbed in Georgia

Michael Dowda
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Investigators are working to get Michael Dowda back behind bars in Mississippi. He escaped three days ago from a work detail while serving time at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman.

Officials say he was found nearly 500 miles away in Georgia, and tips played a big role in his capture.

"We wouldn't have been able to catch him without the public and as well as the individuals that called in to help," said Christopher Felix, supervisor inspector with the U.S. Marshal's Office.

The 48-year-old Dowda was serving a life sentence for the 1996 murder of his girlfriend Lynette Jarrett in Harrison County.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections said it believes Dowda broke into an employee's home and stole two handguns before taking off in the same employee's white truck.

Felix says Dowda painted the truck black to avoid detection but was found in a Macon, Ga., parking lot with the same license plate.

"When the officers in Georgia identified the vehicle and used their flashlight to flash on the tag, they were able to identify it being a Mississippi plate," Felix said. "At that point the escapee was asleep in the vehicle. However, when they flashed the flashlight on the tag he woke up and at that point he tried to flee from the parking lot. However, he was blocked in and could not get out."

Felix says Dowda then surrendered peacefully, a scenario he's been in before with a previous escape. Back in 1998, Dowda and three other inmates escaped from the Harrison County Jail. That's where he was being held before his murder conviction.

Getting his second run from the law has family members of the victim questioning the prison system's security.

"A convicted murderer with a life sentence who had a history of escape, escaping again, he was not supervised well enough," said Tanya Farrell, Jarrett's niece.

Dowda now faces extradition to Mississippi and multiple charges, including escape.