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'Armed and dangerous' killer escapes Mississippi prison

Miss. Dept. Of Corrections via AP

Michael Blane Dowda

A man serving a life sentence for killing his girlfriend nearly two decades ago is on the run after escaping from the Mississippi State Penitentiary.

Inmate Michael Dowda, 48, is at large, the Mississippi Department of Corrections said in a statement, adding that he is considered "armed and dangerous."

Officials discovered Dowda was missing from the state prison in Parchman, Miss., on Saturday while he was on maintenance detail on the prison grounds. He was last seen wearing state-issued green-and-white striped pants and white shirt.

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Dowda allegedly broke into a safe inside the home of a Department of Corrections employee on prison grounds and stole two handguns. Authorities believe he is driving a white 2005 Chevrolet Silverado truck that he also stole from the same employee.

The truck has a silver toolbox, Yalobusha County, Miss., license plates, and a disabled license plate number S0922, prison officials said.

Dowda is described as a white male, 5 feet, 11 inches tall with a large build, weighing 195 pounds. He has brown hair and eyes and one tattoo on the top left side of his chest.

Grace Simmons Fisher, spokesperson for the MDOC, told NBC News that prisoners have escaped from the state prison before, adding that “[Officials] are addressing current security measures in the wake of the escape.”

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Dowda was serving a life sentence for murdering his girlfriend, Clarissa Lynn Jarrett, during an argument on Nov. 13, 1996. After Jarrett said she had sex with other men, Dowda got a gun, put it to her head and pulled the trigger, the Associated Press reported. He later said he had removed the clip and thought the gun was unloaded, but authorities said one bullet was chambered.

He chose to be tried without a jury. A judge convicted him in December 1998, and he began serving his sentence at the state prison in January 1999. 

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