A jailbreak, a murder and a shoot-out with police: What we know about hunt for Mississippi escaped inmates

Four prisoners went missing from the Raymond Detention Center at the weekend. Now, one is dead, one is captured and two are still at large. Graeme Massie and Rachel Sharp report

Friday 28 April 2023 13:34 BST
The four inmates escaped from Raymond Detention Center at the weekend
The four inmates escaped from Raymond Detention Center at the weekend (Hinds County Sheriff’s Office/AP)

A manhunt is under way to find the final two fugitives still on the run after four inmates staged a dramatic jail break in Mississippi this week.

The group of inmates escaped from the Raymond Detention Center over the weekend, with guards only discovering the prisoners were missing during an early morning headcount.

One of the escaped fugitives died in a house fire on Wednesday after killing a Good Samaritan pastor who had stopped to help him and shooting a police officer.

A second was captured in Texas on Thursday.

Now, as of Friday morning, two of the escaped inmates are still at large – almost one week on from their escape.

Here is what we know so far about the saga:

How the prison break unfolded

Four inmates – Jerry Raynes, 51, Casey Grayson, 24, Corey Harrison, 22, and Dylan Arrington, escaped from the troubled Raymond Detention Center over the weekend.

Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones said in a press conference on Monday that two breaches had been found inside the jail – one inside a cell and the other in the roof.

The four escapees are believed to have managed to climb onto the roof at around 8.30pm on Saturday night and camped up there, before leaving the facility at different times.

The jail break was discovered at around 12.30am on Sunday morning during a routine head count and the facility was instantly plunged into lockdown.

The escaped inmates used a number of stolen vehicles in their getaways.

From left: Jerry Raynes, Casey Grayson, Corey Harrison and Dylan Arrington
From left: Jerry Raynes, Casey Grayson, Corey Harrison and Dylan Arrington (Hinds County Sheriff’s Office )

Authorities said that a truck – a red Chevy Silverado – was stolen from close to the jail at around 2.30am on Sunday morning with a witness spotting two men inside the vehicle. Investigators believe this is connected to the jail break.

Another vehicle – a Hinds County Public Works vehicle – was found abandoned in Spring Valley Village, Texas, after at least one of the fugitives is believed to have used it in his escape.

A red Dodge Ram 1500 truck was also stolen when Arrington allegedly shot pastor Anthony Watts dead and made off in his vehicle.

A manhunt was launched to track down the four fugitives.

Who are the suspects on the run?

The suspects were identified as Dylan Arrington, 22, Casey Grayson, 24, Corey Harrison, 22, and Jerry Raynes, 51, who were in prison on various charges.

Dylan Arrington is suspected of murder and was charged with auto theft and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to KTRK.

Corey Harrison was charged with receiving stolen property.

Casey Grayson was charged with grand larceny and sale of a controlled substance, and Jerry Raynes was charged with auto theft and burglary of a business.

Pastor’s murder and fugitive’s house fire death

Arrington allegedly shot and killed 61-year-old pastor Anthony Watts on Monday night after the victim pulled over to help him, when he wrecked a motorcycle he had previously stolen.

Arrington then allegedly stole Watts’ Dodge Ram and fled the scene.

Close friends of Watts – who was the lead pastor at St Mary Missionary Baptist Church in D’Lo, Mississippi – paid tribute to him as someone who always wanted to look out for others.

“That was the type of person he was. He always wanted to help. Always wanted to know what he can do whatever the circumstance may be,” Karen Fairley told WAPT.

St Mary Missionary Baptist Church’s Pastor Anthony Watts
St Mary Missionary Baptist Church’s Pastor Anthony Watts (St Mary Missionary Baptist Church)

“He always told you he loved you and his spirit was so sincere, so kind, and so loving to just everyone he came in contact with.”

She said she can understand why he stopped to help the escaped inmate as that was who he was.

“The action that happened, we could understand why he did it, because that was just in his nature,” said Ms Fairley, whose father is an associate minister at the church.

Following the pastor’s murder, officers then tracked Arrington down to a home in Leake County on Wednesday morning.

In a video update, Leake County Sheriff Randy Atkinson outlined what happened during the encounter.

The sheriff said that officers went to a home where they believed the suspect had been at around 7am that morning.

When they arrived, the homeowner was home and they spoke with him briefly.

The homeowner then entered the residence before running out and saying the suspect was in the house.

Arrington then started shooting at the officers from inside the home, with a bullet striking an officer in the leg, said the sheriff.

More units responded to the address and the suspect allegedly continued to fire on them.

The sheriff said that the home then went up in flames.

Arrington fired at police, wounding one investigator, after being cornered
Arrington fired at police, wounding one investigator, after being cornered (Jackson Police Department)

Arrington’s body was later confirmed to be found inside.

“I have never seen a situation where a structure was engulfed in flames and an individual inside of the structure started firing shots at law enforcement on the exterior,” Hinds County Sheriff Tyree Jones told WAPT.

“This individual had violence on his mind and I will say that I believe that he did not intend to leave here alive today.”

The wounded officer – Leake County Investigator Jerry Horn – was released from hospital on Thursday.

He was welcomed home with a police motorcade.

The manhunt

Surveillance footage captured Raynes at a service station in Spring Valley, Texas, at around 11am on Sunday morning.

A stolen Hinds County maintenance truck was also recovered in Spring Valley on Sunday.

Officials suspected that he was headed for the US border.

On Thursday, Raynes was taken into custody in Spring Valley View, in Northwest Harris County on Thursday.

Hinds County Sheriff’s Office said that he was taken for evaluation at Memorial Hermann Greater Heights Hospital before being extradited to Mississippi.

“Escapee Jerry Raynes is in custody in Spring Valley, TX. USMFTF, Harris County Sheriff’s Office and Spring Valley PD assisted with the capture. Raynes will be held facing extradition back to MS. Investigation is still ongoing,” HCSO tweeted.

Raynes spotted at service station in Spring Valley, Texas
Raynes spotted at service station in Spring Valley, Texas (HCSO)

The other two inmates were still at large on Friday morning.

Investigation and new charges pending

The Hinds County Sheriff’s Office is now conducting an administrative and criminal investigation into the escape, Sheriff Jones said.

Raymond Detention Center had a chequered past long before four inmates escaped over the weekend.

Last summer, deficiencies in supervision and staffing, and “a stunning array of assaults, as well as deaths” prompted a judge to order a takeover of the detention centre, according to the Associated Press.

Seven people died last year while detained at the jail, according to US District Judge Carlton Reeves said. Judge Reeves wrote in his ruling that cell doors did not lock and a lack of lighting in cells made life “miserable for the detainees who live there and prevents guards from adequately surveilling detainees.”

Jerry Raynes following his recapture
Jerry Raynes following his recapture (HCSO)

He also said guards sometimes slept instead of monitoring the cameras in the control room.

But before an appointed receiver was scheduled to assume control over the jail this year, a court of appeals halted the lower court’s order until it ruled on the county’s motion for reconsideration.

Meanwhile, the escaped inmates will face additional charges of escape and also possibly auto theft.

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