Escaped inmate accused of murder captured in Tennessee

Author: CBS News
Curtis Watson, 44. Credit: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

An “extremely dangerous” escaped inmate accused of murdering a prison administrator was captured in Tennessee after four days on the run, authorities said Sunday.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI), the state’s main law enforcement agency, announced the capture of Curtis Watson, 44, on Sunday. Watson is suspected of murdering 64-year-old corrections administrator Debra Johnson in her home on prison grounds last Wednesday, when he escaped after leaving West Tennessee State Penitentiary on a work detail. Johnson had worked for the Department of Corrections for 38 years.

On Sunday, the TBI released surveillance footage showing Watson opening a refrigerator outside a home in Henning, Tennessee, not far from the prison. The bureau announced his capture soon after and released a video showing Watson being hauled into custody.

Watson had been in prison since 2012, serving a 15-year prison sentence for an aggravated kidnapping conviction. He was previously convicted of aggravated child abuse and worked in the rural Tennessee prison as a farm laborer. Officials say he escaped on a tractor, and later abandoned it about a mile away.

A huge manhunt had been underway in Tennessee since he escaped custody on August 7. On Thursday, investigators said they secured warrants for Watson on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual battery.

“This man is considered extremely dangerous and we need to find him,” Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said during the search.

Copyright ©2024 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.