One Mississippi prison escapee still at large, one in custody after days of riots, bloodshed

One Mississippi prison escapee still at large, one in custody after days of riots, bloodshed


Alissa Zhu


Mississippi Clarion Ledger

Published 1: 34 PM EST Jan 5, 2020

JACKSON, Miss. – One of two inmates who escaped from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman during a statewide lockdown is in custody, authorities say.

The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation said early Sunday that David May, 42, was captured by agents of the bureau, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

A 2011 GMC pickup that authorities say was used in the escape also was recovered, MBI said.

Dillion Williams, 27, the other inmate who escaped while the state prison system was on lockdown because of violence and killings, is still at large, the state investigation bureau said.

The two were discovered missing during an emergency inmate count around 1: 45 a.m. Saturday. Days earlier, deadly violence had erupted at prisons across the state, including Parchman, where local coroner Heather Burton says “gangs are at war.”

May is serving a life sentence for aggravated assault in Harrison County. Williams is serving 40 years for aggravated assault and burglary in Marshall County.

Anyone with information about Williams is asked to contact MBI at 601-987-1530 or MDOC at 662-745-6611.

Five Mississippi inmates have been killed within a week across the state.

State department of corrections officials put prisons on lockdown when an inmate was killed and two were injured in a “major disturbance” at South Mississippi Correctional Institution Dec. 29.

The violence continued in the days ahead, leading to three deaths at Parchman and one death at Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility. An unknown number of inmates have been injured. 

The corrections department has confirmed that some of the violence has been gang-related. It declined to provide more details, citing an ongoing investigation and security concerns.

Many inmates have been updating relatives on the conditions inside prison via contraband cellphones. Their family members have described scenes of bloody “mayhem” to the Clarion Ledger. 

“I can barely breathe,” said the mother of a Parchman inmate. She asked not to be identified in fear her son could get in trouble if her name is traced back to his. “Because there’s nothing I can do. My son is in danger and there’s nothing I can do.”

‘Gangs are at war’: Fifth Mississippi prison death reported as violence continues

Who are they? Inmates killed during Mississippi’s prison violence

Calling it quits: Commissioner Pelicia Hall resigning as head of Mississippi’s troubled prison system

Gov. Phil Bryant said on Twitter Saturday that Department of Public Safety and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation officers “have been responding to restore order.”

“I have directed the use of all necessary assets and personnel to achieve this result. Over 500 inmates have been moved to a more secure detention and a general lockdown continues,” Bryant said.

Corrections department Commissioner Pelicia Hall, who announced last week that she is stepping down for a job in the private sector, said in a statement Friday that the agency is “continuing to be vigilant and mindful of the situation.”

“These are trying times for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. It is never a good feeling for a commissioner to receive a call that a life has been lost, especially over senseless acts of violence,” Hall said in her statement.

Follow reporter Alissa Zhu on Twitter @AlissaZhu

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