Panola deputies, others continue 9-day manhunt for escapee

Published 12:58 pm Thursday, April 9, 2020

A Water Valley man who escaped from the Yalobusha County Detention Center April 1 remains on the loose with deputies from several counties and state agencies searching  for him in a rural area in southeast Panola County.

Ewel William Scott, 39, escaped nine days ago and officers from Yalobusha and Tallahatchie Counties spent a week following tips of sightings and watching houses of people who had known connections with the man.

Panola Co. Sheriff Shane Phelps said he was contacted Tuesday night about the escapee. He took a tracking canine the county owns to the scene and was able to pick up a trail.

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Phelps said he and deputies walked through creeks and thickets until the dog was exhausted. “From what the other sheriffs told me this guy is one of those that can live off the land. He grew up in the area and he knows his way around,” he said.

Scott has been arrested multiple times for theft and larceny and has never been charged with a violent crime. Officers are cautious, but don’t believe the escapee poses real physical threats to the residents of the area.

“I’m not overly concerned about him hurting someone, but at the same time this is a man that is on the run and there’s always the chance people will do something they normally wouldn’t to keep from going back to jail,” Phelps said.

The sheriff said during the early morning hours of Wednesday he thinks the search team was fairly close to Scott because they found snack wrappers and a Sprite can that had not been open very long.

“He had broken into a deer camp and got some groceries and kept on moving,” Phelps said. “This guy has connections in all three of our counties and somebody saw him in (the town) Enid,” Phelps said. “We are asking anyone that sees him to call their local sheriff’s office and they will report it to the search team.”

Phelps said Panola County citizens are not in imminent danger, but all citizens should be aware there is a manhunt underway and be certain all doors to houses and shops are locked.

“If it’s not nailed down this guy will steal it they told me,” Phelps said. “Anyone who has any information needs to report to the local sheriff and we will catch him if he’s still here.”

There are a host of officers involved in the search. “When I saw what we were dealing with and how this guy can move, we made some calls to get help. Right now they are divided into teams and actively searching.”

Tracking dogs from the Batesville Police Department and the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office are on the scene, along with officers from the Mississippi Department of Game and Fish, the Mississippi Department of Corrections, and the Panola County Emergency Management Agency.

The searches have used drones and other tracking equipment to search the fields and woods that make up most of the area. Phelps said he is also appreciative of the cooperation of the people in the area.

The search teams have set up a base camp at Nelson Chapel Church on Nelson Spur Road outside of Pope. The owners of E.C. Moore General Store, located on Hwy. 6 east of Batesville, volunteered to feed officers during the ordeal.

“I want to say a special thank you to the people of Nelson Chapel for allowing us to use their parking lot, and the E.C. Moore people have been a tremendous help to law enforcement while we conduct this operation. We owe them both a big thank you,” he said.

The telephone numbers to call with information on the whereabouts of Scott are: 662-563-6230 (Panola), 662-473-2722 (Yalobusha) and 662-647-3700.

In what can only be chalked up to bad luck, another escapee was caught Wednesday, by law enforcement officers who weren’t even looking for him.

Phelps said a group of agents were traveling up I-55 from Jackson to assist in the search when they passed a white male of the general description of the suspect walking on the interstate.

When they stopped to question him he admitted to being an escapee from a facility in another part of the state. He was taken into custody and held at the Panola County jail until arrangements were made to transport him back to his home cell.