Murder victim's family lived in fear after prisoner escaped - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Murder victim's family lived in fear after prisoner escaped

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It was a phone call Jean Smith never thought she would ever receive. This weekend, an official from the state Department of Corrections told her that the man serving life in prison for killing her daughter had escaped from Parchman. It was a phone call Jean Smith never thought she would ever receive. This weekend, an official from the state Department of Corrections told her that the man serving life in prison for killing her daughter had escaped from Parchman.
HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

The man who escaped from the State Penitentiary in Parchman over the weekend is back in custody.  His three days on the run had a Long Beach family living in fear again.

WLOX News has learned that Michael Dowda was charged with another jail escape 14 years ago. Dowda was serving a life sentence at Parchman for killing Lynett Jarrett when authorities said he escaped Saturday.

It was a phone call Jean Smith never thought she would ever receive. An official from the state Department of Corrections told her that the man serving life in prison for killing her daughter had escaped from Parchman.

"It brought everything back and I was just nervous wreck. I couldn't sleep. I had nightmares about the first time and he murdered her," said Smith.

Michael Dowda was convicted in December of 1998 for the murder of 25 year old Lynett Jarrett.  The Woolmarket woman was shot in the head, and her body was buried in the woods near I-10 and Canal Road.

Dowda was reportedly on a maintenance detail at Parchman when he went missing Saturday. Jarrett's family members said Dowda's escape has turned their lives upside down once again.

"This being his second escape, really aggravated and upset," said Tanya Farrell, Lynett Jarrett's niece. "This has happened again and our justice system was not following through with making sure that he was supervised."

The sheriff's office confirmed that Dowda, along with three other inmates, escaped from the Harrison County Jail on September 26, 1998. Dowda was captured the following day and charged with felony escape. 

According to the Chief Deputy Landon Phillips, the DA's office decided not to pursue the escape charge once Dowda was convicted of Lynett Jarrett's murder. Phillips said the escape charge was entered into the National Crime Information Center.

However, MDOC spokeswoman Grace Fisher told WLOX News the department has not found any record of Dowda's escape charge from the NCIC. She also said there is no official report on the escape from the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.

"I'm extremely upset that our justice system has failed my family," said Farrell. "They've failed her children and they've allowed a murderer out on the streets again.""

Lynett Jarrett's mom worried, because in her mind, "He's capable of anything.  I think he's killed one time, he can kill again."

When interviewed on Monday, the family members said they wouldn't be able to rest until Dowda was back in prison.  At 12:30 Tuesday morning, authorities had Dowda back in custody.  They captured him in Macon, Georgia.

MDOC officials say Dowdy allegedly broke into a safe inside the home of an MDOC employee on prison grounds and stole two handguns. Authorities said he allegedly stole a white 2005 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, with a MS disabled license plate number S0922.   

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