Escaped inmate was serving 15-year sentence for brutal crime against wife

Escaped inmate was serving 15-year sentence for brutal crime against wife

HENRY COUNTY, Tenn. (WMC) - The search is ongoing for escaped inmate Curtis Ray Watson.

Watson is suspected of killing a prison administrator, Debra Johnson, in her home on prison grounds.

The TBI now has warrants for Watson for first degree murder, especially aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual battery in connection with Johnson’s death.

Watson was serving a 15-year sentence for aggravated kidnapping in Henry County, about two hours northeast of Lauderdale County, where he escaped West Tennessee State Penitentiary on Wednesday.

A police report said Watson was arrested in 2012 after repeatedly raping his wife, beating her with a baseball bat and threatening her life.

He was seven years into his sentence when he escaped on a tractor while doing farm work at the prison.

His former neighbors in Henry County said they did not have much interaction with Watson, but could not believe what happened in 2012.

"They weren't real neighborly so nobody bothered them," Joey Lackey said. "This is a street where everyone wants to help everybody. I just couldn't believe something like that could happen."

The Henry County Sheriff told the public and his deputies to be vigilant in case Watson comes back.

There is a $52,500 reward offered for any information leading to Watson’s arrest.

If you see Watson, call 911 and don’t approach him. If you have a tip on where he may be headed, contact local law enforcement.

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