Tennessee prison escapee, ‘person of interest’ in penitentiary employee’s death


Curtis Ray Watson (Photo: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

HENNING, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) issued a Blue Alert Wednesday for a West Tennessee prison escapee who is also a “person of interest” in the murder of a longtime Department of Correction employee.

A Blue Alert is used to speed the apprehension of violent criminals who kill or seriously injure local, state, or federal law enforcement officers.

According to the TBI, Curtis Ray Watson was discovered missing earlier in the day from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary during the investigation into the death of 64-year-old Debra Johnson, the West Tennessee Correctional Administrator.

Debra Johnson (Photo: Tennessee Department of Corrections)

Investigators said Johnson was found dead around 11:30 a.m. inside of her residence on the grounds of the penitentiary.

Foul play was suspected in her death.

The facility was placed on lockdown and an inmate count was conducted.

Watson was found to be missing from a work detail and had reportedly left the property on a tractor, the TBI revealed.

Early Thursday morning, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released older booking photos of Watson, in case he has changed his appearance since being on the run.

Curtis Watson 2013
Courtesy: TBI
Curtis Watson 2011
Courtesy: TBI

If you know anything about Watson’s whereabouts, call 911 or 1-800-TBI-FIND.

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(This story was originally published on August 8, 2019)

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