An inmate who busted out of a troubled Mississippi prison where three others died last week was still on the run Monday as the state’s governor ordered “the use of all necessary assets and personnel” to hunt down the fugitive.
Dillion Williams, who is serving a 40-year sentence for residential burglary and aggravated assault, has been missing since early Saturday after staff inside the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman conducted an “emergency count,” officials say.
Two inmates were stabbed to death at the facility last week and one was found dead in his jail cell in a series of killings that Mississippi’s outgoing prisons chief says is connected to gang disputes.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections describes the 27-year-old Williams as a black male with a medium build who is 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 175 pounds.
David May, a 42-year-old inmate serving a life sentence for two aggravated assault convictions, escaped alongside Williams but was taken into custody early Sunday. Authorities said a pickup truck that the two inmates used in their escape has been recovered and is being processed by a crime scene unit.
Gov. Phil Bryant had said over the weekend that he has directed “the use of all necessary assets and personnel” to track down the pair, including state troopers and the highway patrol’s air operations unit.
Parchman is a series of cell blocks scattered across thousands of acres of farmland in Mississippi’s Delta region. Inmates who escape their cells, the Associated Press says, sometimes don’t make it off the property.
Mississippi’s outgoing prisons chief said Friday that four of the five killings of inmates since Dec. 29 stem from gang violence, as guards struggle to maintain control of restless inmates.
Corrections Commissioner Pelicia Hall said the department won’t confirm the names of the gangs “for security purposes,” but relatives of inmates who spoke to The Associated Press and other news outlets said there’s an ongoing confrontation between the Vice Lords and Black Gangster Disciples.
It wouldn’t be the first time the two gangs have warred behind bars in Mississippi, with previous confrontations at Parchman and other prisons over the past 15 years. A 2015 survey found nearly 3,000 Black Gangster Disciple members and nearly 2,000 Vice Lords in prisons statewide.
“These are trying times for the Mississippi Department of Corrections,” Hall said Friday.
The first of five inmates identified was Terrandance Dobbins, 40, who died Sunday, Dec. 29 at the South Mississippi Correctional Institute in Leakesville. Two days later, Walter Gates, 25, was stabbed and several other inmates were injured at Parchman during a fight that spread to multiple units.
Then on Thursday, Gregory Emary, 26, was killed at the Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility, a county-run jail that holds state inmates. Also Thursday, 32-year-old Roosevelt Holliman was fatally stabbed at Parchman in a fracas that led to multiple injuries.
Before dawn Friday, Denorris Howell, 36, was found dead in his cell at Parchman.
Bryant on Monday said he has been working with police and officials “to restore order and control at the prison at Parchman.”
“Some Mississippi Highway Patrol Officers continue to process the scene to recover any contraband or items that may be used as a weapon,” he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.