Suspected rapist found dead in vehicle

Published 7:00 am Friday, June 6, 2014

THE SEARCH IS OVER: A tow truck company prepares to tow the vehicle the Joseph Washington was found in. Jodi Marze | Picayune Item

THE SEARCH IS OVER: A tow truck company prepares to tow the vehicle the Joseph Washington was found in.
Jodi Marze | Picayune Item

A deceased male discovered in a vehicle at the end of Byrd Street, in Carriere, has been identified by Pearl River County Coroner Derek Turnage as Joseph Washington, who was wanted for the charge of rape.

Law enforcement agencies were searching for Washington, who had a warrant for his arrest based on of the charge of raping a 14-year-old girl at a local motel issued by the Picayune Police Department, according to a previous story in the Item.  Washington also faced a warrant issued by the Mississippi Department of Corrections for probation violation. Washington is registered with the state of Mississippi as a sex offender for a statutory rape conviction issued on December 15, 2000, according to information available on the Mississippi Sex Offender Registry website.

Turnage said an investigation determined 50-year-old Washington had possibly been deceased between three and four days. A toxicology report is expected to be able to determine the cause and manner of death, Turnage said.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy Shane Tucker said the department received a call from family members, who found Washington in the vehicle at the end of Byrd Street. Tucker said the vehicle matched the description of the suspect vehicle wanted by the Picayune Police Department.

Patrol deputies and investigators arrived on the scene where they determined Washington had been deceased for some time, Tucker said.

Mississippi Department of Corrections sent an officer to the scene after Picayune Police notified them of the discovery, said, MDOC Communications Director Grace Fisher.

Fisher said MDOC issued a warrant for Washington after Picayune Police issued their warrant, which violated the terms of his probation.

Fisher said Washington had to register as a sex offender after his conviction on Dec. 15, 2000, where he was sentenced to 30 years for two separate counts of statutory rape in May of 1998 and an additional six months for an assault that took place in February of 2000.

Fisher said the two 30-year sentences were to run concurrently and the six months were added onto the end of the time. Upon his release, he was to serve five years of probation.

Fisher said that 20 years of Washington’s sentence was suspended and instead served 10 years and six months for his convictions.

He was released from jail on probation on June 7, 2010, Fisher said.

While searching for Washington, Picayune Police Department Chief Investigator Lane Pittman used Facebook to request information on his whereabouts.

Pittman said the department appreciates the community’s

cooperation in getting the information out.

He added that the department appreciates the assistance received from the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department and Mississippi Department of Corrections in this case.