Police find green pants in search for escaped Mississippi prisoner

A Mississippi man who escaped from a jail earlier this week was still on the lam Thursday as authorities said they found green pants, which is what authorities believe he was last seen wearing.

U.S. Marshals Service joined Warren County sheriff’s deputies and Vicksburg police in search for Rafael McCloud, 34, according to the Vicksburg Post. McCloud escaped from the Warren County Jail early Wednesday morning using a homemade shank to briefly take a jail employee hostage and force him to give up his keys, radio, pants and jacket.

Sheriff Martin Pace said deputies recovered the radio and keys on jail grounds in addition to the green pants, which were located blocks away from the jail. He was also last seen wearing a white T-shirt and a black jacket. He said authorities don’t know what McCloud is wearing now or if he has altered his appearance any further.

"We operate and continue to operate under the presumption that he is still here (in the area), until we receive verification that he is not."

McCloud said officers searched through the night and that "anyone who has been to visit or anyone who is associated with Rafael McCloud is getting a visit."

Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong called McCloud extremely dangerous.

"We have expanded our search area to the northeast part of the city," Armstrong said. "The area has a large number of abandoned homes and businesses, good hiding places for McCloud."

During the massive manhunt for McCloud Wednesday, authorities were called to the Fort Hill Drive area near Vicksburg National Military Park after residents thought they saw a man that met McCloud’s appearance in a wooded area, according to the Vicksburg Post. The paper also reported that an additional call claimed he was in a house.

Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong said more than two dozen officers were searching the area Wednesday but a less number was looking Thursday.

"Most people in Vicksburg know McCloud is a fugitive and anyone harboring him will be arrested and prosecuted," Armstrong said.

McCloud, who had been in the county jail since his arrest June 29, was indicted on multiples counts involving Sharen Wilson's death in January. Her body was found behind an abandoned hospital. McCloud could face the death penalty if convicted.

McCloud has prior felony convictions for auto burglary, grand larceny and armed robbery, according to court records.

Pace said the sheriff's office is also investigating the jail escape. He said that some of it was captured on video, but that he would not publicly release the recording. He said the officer whom McCloud held at knifepoint with a homemade shank is on paid leave, which he described as a routine measure. Warren County's century-old jail is in downtown Vicksburg with no fence between the building and the street.

Pace said that in addition to Vicksburg police officers and Warren County sheriff's deputies, officers from the Department of Public Safety, game wardens from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and members of the U.S. Marshal's fugitive task force are participating.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.