Chief Says Dead Intruder May Be Escaped Murder Suspect

March 10, 2016 Updated: March 10, 2016
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VICKSBURG, Miss.  — Police are investigating whether a man who broke into a home Thursday and struggled for hours with the homeowner and his wife was a murder suspect who escaped from jail a week ago.

Police said the homeowner shot the intruder in the head and killed him. Details are still murky of what transpired in the Vicksburg home, but authorities described a conflict that started when the homeowner confronted the intruder in his garage and ended roughly three hours later when the intruder was shot. At some point, the homeowner was stabbed.

Vicksburg Police Chief Walter Armstrong told The Associated Press he believes the slain intruder is Rafael McCloud, who escaped from jail on March 2, but he has not been positively identified.

Police were called around 7 a.m. to a house in northern Vicksburg, where a homeowner told police he had been attacked by a man who broke into his garage around 4 a.m., Armstrong said.

“He was pretty much given the bum’s rush by the suspect,” Armstrong said.

The homeowner was stabbed in the shoulder in an hours-long struggle, and Armstrong says he eventually shot the intruder. The homeowner was taken to the hospital. His wife was also injured but not seriously enough to be taken to the hospital. Exactly what unfolded wasn’t immediately clear.

The 34-year-old McCloud escaped the Warren County jail March 2 after holding a jail officer at knifepoint.

McCloud used a homemade shank to get the jump on a jail officer, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace has said. McCloud forced the officer to give up his keys, radio, pants and jacket, and went out a door to escape. The century-old jail in downtown Vicksburg has no perimeter fence.

Officials combed the town on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River for days, interviewing family members and friends of McCloud and poking through abandoned buildings. Schools bolstered security, and Vicksburgpolice warned people to bring in guns from vehicles and make sure their houses hadn’t been forcibly entered.

McCloud was indicted on murder and rape charges in the January 2015 death of Sharen Wilson. He had been held in the jail since his June 29 arrest, and has prior felony convictions for auto burglary, grand larceny and armed robbery.