Members of the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force got a call at about midnight from their counterparts in Mississippi that Michael Dowda, 48, of Harrison County, Miss., might be at the Quality Inn on Arkwright Road.
The task force checked the parking lot for the white Chevrolet Silverado prison work truck Dowda had stolen during his escape Saturday from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, authorities said. They also used a photo to find out whether Dowda had rented a room, said Deputy Marshal W.S. Robertson.
There was no sign of Dowda, who was serving a life sentence for the 1996 murder of Lynette Jarrett, of Woolmarket, Miss., when he disappeared from a maintenance detail on prison grounds. Prison officials said he's accused of breaking into a prison worker's home on the grounds, getting into a safe and stealing two guns.
Before leaving the hotel, Robertson spotted a black Chevrolet truck that had backed into a spot in the corner of an adjacent parking lot. "I went over there out of curiosity," he said.
He knelt down to check the tag. "It was the Mississippi plate we were looking for," Robertson said.
The white truck had been spray-painted black.
Looking through a window into the back seat, Robertson saw Dowda sleeping. He called other task force members and made a plan to block the truck with other vehicles. The task force knew Dowda had stolen two handguns while making his escape from the Mississippi prison, authorities said.
Dowda awoke and started to drive off before Robertson could reach his vehicle. Task force members used their vehicles to block Dowda, who then surrendered. Task force members pulled him from the truck and took him to the Bibb County jail, where he is being held awaiting extradition to Mississippi, Robertson told The Telegraph (http://bit.ly/TxLoYc ).
Jarrett, 25, the mother of two young children, was shot in the head. Dowda buried her remains near Gulfport, and those remains were recovered three months later.
Information from: The Macon Telegraph, http://www.macontelegraph.com