Kalamazoo homicide suspect escapes jail, back in custody

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

KALAMAZOO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) —  A Kalamazoo man charged with murdering his girlfriend is back in custody after escaping from the Kalamazoo County jail.

The Kalamazoo County undersheriff said the suspect was captured about 33 minutes after the suspect climbed a fence and escaped Wednesday morning. A Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and jail official said the escaped inmate was Donnovan Lewis, who is charged with open murder in the June 28 murder of Aniya Mack

Authorities found the suspect in the area of Bryant and Portage streets in Kalamazoo wearing only underwear and tennis shoes.

The inmate’s identity won’t be released by the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department until he is charged for the escape, which is expected to happen Thursday.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff James VanDyken said the suspect was in a fenced-in area outdoors for recreation when he climbed over the fences and discarded his orange inmate jumpsuit. VanDyken said inmates typically don’t wear tennis shoes, but they are provided with a pair to use during recreation periods.

Authorities and jail staff immediately pursued the inmate, but lost his trail by railroad tracks south of the business loop of I-94. At that point, a K-9 unit and a Michigan State Police helicopter were called to help track the suspect before being found in Kalamazoo.

Authorities were able to redirect their perimeter after someone at a manufacturing plant on Miller Road reported seeing the suspect jumping over a fence there.

VanDyken said it has been about 20 years since an incident like this has happened, and the jail is already investigating the fence to find any weak points. The inmate who escaped will also not be allowed to go outside.

Nobody was injured in the incident.

There were two deputies who were supposed to be watching the jail inmates. An investigation is underway to determine if any staff will face disciplinary action.

Police say Lewis approached officers that night and told them that he had killed his girlfriend at her apartment in the 4000 block of West Michigan Avenue in Kalamazoo.

Lewis said he got into an argument with Mack about her relationship with Rev. Strick Strickland, who is the preacher at Second Baptist Church, where Mack sang in the choir.

Lewis said he hit her in the face before slitting her throat, putting a garbage bag over her head and putting her in a suitcase. He later put the suitcase in a dumpster outside Mack’s apartment before retrieving it and dumping it in Comstock Creek, according to court records.

Police searched the apartment and say they found blood and other evidence that was consistent with what Lewis told them.

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