Escaped inmate in custody, could face the death penalty

HENNING, Tenn. (WVLT/AP) -- The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed that escaped inmate Curtis Watson has been captured and taken into custody.

The Tennessee Department of Correction shared this photo of Watson in the hospital. / source: (@TNTDOC1 on Twitter)

Watson was taken into custody 12:10 pm on Sunday 10 miles away from where he served his time.

Multiple Tennessee law enforcement agencies were on the search for an escaped inmate who is a suspect in the homicide of a Department of Correction employee.

According to TDOC Watson was spotted and photographed in Henning, Tenn. by residents.

Officials warned the public that Watson changed his clothing soon after escaping. He was dressed in camouflage bib overalls and a hat, carrying a camp backpack when he was found.

The Tennessee Department of Correction reported Watson had gained "trustee" status before his escape Wednesday. TBI agents say officials allowed him to leave the prison to operate the tractor he left on.

Authorities say 64-year-old Debra Johnson, a correctional administrator, was killed on Wednesday.

According to an affidavit from the State of Tennessee, Johnson died of strangulation and was sexually assaulted, according to a report from WTVF.

TBI announced they obtained warrants for Curtis Watson on: first degree murder, especially aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual assault.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says 44-year-old Curtis Ray Watson escaped Wednesday from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, about 60 miles outside of Memphis. WTVF reported Watson escaped using a tractor which was found a mile away from the facility.

The TBI issued a "Blue Alert," which is used to inform the public of violent suspects who kill or seriously injure law enforcement officers in the line of duty.

Watson has been incarcerated since 2012 for an aggravated kidnapping conviction. Police said at the time that Watson knocked a woman over the head with an object and raped her multiple times.

During a new conference Sunday afternoon, Lauderdale County District Attorney Mark Davidson said his office will work to make sure Watson can never escape again and harm anyone.

"He will be arraigned this coming week in the Lauderdale County General Sessions Court to begin the prosecution. That's where the case will begin. It will not end until we get justice for Debra Johnson and her family," Davidson said.

Officials also said Watson could be facing the death penalty.

Watson was taken to the hospital for treatment. It appeared he had several mosquito, ticks bites and feet injures.

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Curtis Ray Watson / Source: TBI