An escaped prisoner described as “extremely dangerous” was captured after he was spotted on security cameras outside a home in Henning, Tennessee at 3:30 a.m. on Sunday. Curtis Watson, 44, an inmate at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, was on a work detail when he escaped on a tractor. The tractor was later found abandoned about a mile from the facility.
Watson is accused of murdering Debra K. Johnson on Wednesday in her home, located on the prison grounds. She was the West Tennessee administrator for the Department of Corrections.
Johnson, 64, was found with a cord wrapped around her neck. She was sexually assaulted and her home was burglarized, according to an affidavit.
Johnson was an employee of the state for 38 years, serving as a sergeant, deputy warden, then prison warden. In her position as correctional administrator, she oversaw all prisons in the western region of the state, officials said.
After Johnson’s body was discovered in her home, the prison was placed on lockdown and officials determined Watson was missing.
Early Sunday morning, a couple spotted Watson on security cameras lurking outside their rural Henning, TN home. Law enforcement officers arrived within 30 minutes and swarmed the property conducting a search until they found him hiding.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation fielded 480 tips from the public after the reward money for Watson’s capture increased from $32,500 to $52,000.