Search continues for escaped inmate who is person of interest in homicide of a West TN corrections employee


HENNING, Tenn. ( – The search for escaped West Tennessee inmate Curtis Ray Watson continues Thursday morning.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has released new photos of Watson from when he was first incarcerated, in case he has changed his appearance with his facial hair.


Watson escaped from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Henning Wednesday.

According to the TBI, Curtis Ray Watson is “a person-of-interest in the homicide of a Tennessee Department of Correction employee” Wednesday. The TBI later identified the employee as West Tennessee Correctional Administrator 64-year-old Debra Johnson, a 38-year veteran employee of state of Tennessee.

Lauderdale County District Attorney Mark Davidson told Local 24 News Watson was serving a 15-year sentence for especially aggravated kidnapping.

If you see Curtis Ray Watson, call 911 or 1-800-TBI-FIND.

From the Associated Press: Authorities are searching for a Tennessee convict who officials say is a person of interest in the death of a corrections employee and escaped a prison on a tractor.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said the tractor used by 44-year-old Curtis Ray Watson was found about a mile (1.6 kilometers) away from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary on Wednesday. The facility is about 60 miles (97 kilometers) from Memphis.

Department of Correction Commissioner Tony Parker said 64-year-old administrator Debra Johnson was found dead in her residence Wednesday. He said she lived in a property on site.

Watson was serving a 15-year sentence on an especially aggravated kidnapping conviction. He worked at the prison as a farm laborer.

TBI says Watson should be considered extremely dangerous.

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