Escaped convict from Tennessee could have left the state

Monday, 12 Aug, 2019

The Tennessee Department of Corrections identified the inmate as Curtis Ray Watson, who turned 44 Wednesday.

A violent felon who is a person of interest in a west Tennessee homicide has escaped from custody and is the subject of an intensive manhunt.and authorities say he could be anywhere by now.

In addition to the search for Watson, at the request of 25 District Attorney General Mark Davidson, TBI Agents are investigating the homicide of Debra Johnson, 64, the West Tennessee Correctional Administrator for the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

Watson was on his usual lawn mowing duty when he reportedly sexually assaulted and strangled a female corrections administrator before escaping prison grounds on a tractor, authorities said.

They said Watson was working as a farm laborer and apparently used a tractor in the escape.

Rewards totaling $52,500 are available for information leading to Watson's arrest. There have been no confirmed sightings of Curtis Ray Watson.

After an intense four-day manhunt for an escaped Tennessee inmate who officials suspect killed a prison worker upon his breakout, Curtis Ray Watson has been taken back into custody. Authorities have scoured the "acres and acres of farm fields and woods surrounding the prison" looking for the inmate, WMC reports, but torrential rain made it hard. Watson was added to the state's Most Wanted list.

Governor Bill Lee spoke at a press conference on Thursday, stating that Watson should be considered extremely unsafe. And a half-hour later, coworkers found Johnson's body in her home when she didn't report for work.

When Johnson didn't show up for work, co-workers discovered her body at her home at 11:30 a.m., according to the affidavit, which notes that agents found a cord wrapped around Johnson's neck. Officials said the tractor was found about a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the prison in Henning, located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northeast of Memphis. Residents been asked to check trail cameras and any video surveillance for possible sightings and to check on neighbors.

The incident set off what's only the third Blue Alert in the history of the program. She oversaw wardens at several area prisons, corrections officials said.

The publication reported that he had been charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and child abuse in Henry County. His sentence in that case expired in 2011, officials said.