West Tennessee Inmate Accused of Murdering Prison Administrator During Escape Captured Sunday Near Prison


Curtis Ray Watson, the fugitive accused of murdering a West Tennessee prison official during his escape, was captured Sunday in Henning, multiple media reports say.

Watson was captured at 11 a.m. in Henning, the same city where West Tennessee State Penitentiary is located, according to a story by CNN.

He had been sighted earlier in the day in Henning. He had changed out of his prison outfit.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation on Sunday tweeted, “CAPTURED!”

The TBI also tweeted a picture of some of those who captured the fugitive: “NEW PICTURE: Here are two TBI Agents and a THP trooper, who were part of the team on-scene at the moment of Curtis Watson’s capture.”

The TBI tweeted, “NEW: Here’s a bit of video right after Curtis Watson was taken into custody!”

Also, the TBI posted a video of a press conference on its Facebook page here.

The TBI said on Twitter, “UPDATE: A total of 430 tips came in during the search for fugitive Curtis Watson.”

Watson escaped while working lawn duty as a prisoner at the penitentiary. He was serving a 15-year sentence for especially aggravated kidnapping, the Chattanooga Times Free Press said.

Watson allegedly sexually assaulted and murdered corrections administrator Debra Johnson, 64, at her home before escaping on a tractor, the newspaper said, citing authorities. There was a $57,000 reward for information leading to his capture and conviction.

Johnson was a 38-year corrections officer.

Johnson’s home was on the prison grounds, UPI said. Her body was found one hour after the prison discovered that Watson was missing at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The TBI issued a Blue Alert, which means a violent subject is at large who could endanger the safety of officers.

A warrant was issued charging him with first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual battery.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.






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