Escaped Tennessee prison inmate accused of killing a 64-year-old corrections officer was captured dressed in camo following a four day manhunt
Curtis Ray Watson, 44, was caught on Sunday after a confirmed sighting in Henning where is he was spotted on a home security camera opening an outdoor refrigerator
Watson allegedly ‘killed and sexually assaulted a corrections officer, Debra Johnson, 64, before escaping from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary on a tractor’ on Sept 7 morning
Authorities launched a manhunt after Debra was found strangled on Wednesday – Watson was seen on a golf cart at victim’s home three hours before she was found
He is serving the sixth of a 15-year prison sentence for the aggravated kidnapping of his wife
Watson faces counts of first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary, and aggravated sexual battery
Curtis Ray Watson, 44, was caught on Sunday, hours after a confirmed sighting by a resident who saw him on his property in Henning.
Watson was pictured looking downbeat in the back of a police patrol car after he was caught on home security cameras opening an outdoor refrigerator at a home.
The state police agency said Watson was on lawn mowing duty when he sexually assaulted and strangled Department of Corrections administrator employee Debra Johnson Wednesday at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation [TBI] said a resident who saw Watson on his property had alerted authorities Sunday morning.
Photos provided by the resident show Watson dressed in camouflage bib overalls and a hat and carrying a camp backpack.
‘Tremendous news that this fugitive is back in custody,’ Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said on Twitter.
Johnson, a 38-year veteran employee of Tennessee state, was found in her home on prison property was found with a cord wrapped around her neck Wednesday morning.
Watson, who is serving a 15-year sentence for especially aggravated kidnapping, was discovered missing when officials issued a blue alert – which is done when law enforcement officials are killed, injured or go missing – and immediately put the facility on lock-down.
Authorities said that Watson was working as a farm laborer and apparently used a tractor in his escape from the facility. The tractor was discovered about one mile away from the facility.
TBI secured warrants for first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary, and aggravated sexual battery on Thursday.
According to an affidavit, Watson had been released temporarily for mowing duties at 7am earlier that day, and had access to a golf cart and a tractor. As a ‘trusty’ at the prison, he was allowed to use the equipment and had to wear a reflective vest while working on prison grounds.
Phone records show Johnson was talking on the phone at 8.10am just 20 minutes before corrections workers saw Watson in a golf cart at her house, according to the affidavit.
He drove away from the prison sometime between 9 and 10 am on a tractor, the affidavit said.
When Johnson didn’t show up for work, co-workers discovered her body at her home at 11.30am, according to the affidavit, which notes that agents found a cord wrapped around Johnson’s neck.
Watson had been serving a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty to especially aggravated kidnapping in Henry County. Watson illegally confined his wife while using an aluminum baseball bat in July 2012, court documents showed.
His sentence began in 2013 and was set to expire in 2025, officials said.
Watson had previously been convicted of aggravated child abuse in Carroll County. His sentence in that case expired in 2011, officials said.