Murder suspect takes jail worker’s uniform, escapes from county lockup

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VICKSBURG, Miss. – A murder suspect who authorities say is “capable of killing, holding someone hostage and kidnapping” has escaped from the Warren County Jail in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Rafael Arnez McCloud. Source: Vicksburg Police Dept

Rafael Arnez McCloud. Source: Vicksburg Police Dept

Rafael Arnez McCloud, 34, escaped early Wednesday after he “took a night shift jail employee hostage with a makeshift weapon,” according to Mike Traxler, an investigator with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department. “He then forced him to give up his pants and his jacket. He released the employee and fled the building on foot wearing the uniform.”

McCloud was in custody on charges in the killing of Sharon Wilson, 69, whose body was found in an abandoned hospital in late June, according to the Vicksburg Police Department. She had been hit in the head and beaten. Investigators have said McCloud admitted to kidnapping Wilson from her home and dumping her body in the grass behind the hospital.

McCloud is charged with capital murder, sexual battery, rape, arson, home invasion, weapon possession by a felon, grand larceny auto theft and burglary in connection with the slaying. He pleaded not guilty in January.

“He can look to add several more charges by the time he looks up again,” Warren County District Attorney Ricky Smith Jr. said.

An attorney for McCloud did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment Wednesday night.

State and local authorities are combing the Vicksburg area using ground, K-9 and helicopter searches.

“He is very capable of killing, holding someone hostage and kidnapping,” Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong said.

Armstrong said sightings have been reported, but police are still searching.