Manhunt underway in Mississippi after murder suspect's escape from jail

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Escaped Miss. Prisoner Threatened Guard With Shank, Authorities Say

VICKSBURG, Miss., March 2 (Reuters) - A murder suspect sparked a manhunt in Mississippi on Wednesday after he swiped a jail employee's clothes, radio and keys and escaped from a county detention facility through a side door, police said.

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Inmate Rafael McCloud, 34, used a homemade shank to take an employee hostage at the Warren County Jail in Vicksburg before making his getaway, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said.

The radio and keys were recovered not far from the jail, along with McCloud's shoes, the sheriff said.

Dozens of officers from the local police and sheriff's departments, as well as the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation, were searching for the inmate, and several schools in Vicksburg were locked down as a precaution.

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Manhunt underway in Mississippi after murder suspect's escape from jail
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"McCloud is a very dangerous individual," Pace said.

McCloud was being held without bail after being charged in the sexual assault and shooting death of Sharon Wilson, 69, in June.

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Her body was found by ghost hunters outside Kuhn Memorial State Hospital, an abandoned hospital in Vicksburg that has long been said to be haunted.

Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong has said McCloud told authorities at the time that he robbed Wilson's home and kidnapped her but claimed he did not kill her.

McCloud is charged with capital murder in Wilson's death, along with sexual battery, rape, arson, home invasion, possession of a weapon by a felon, grand larceny auto theft and burglary.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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