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Inmate who escaped from Tennessee prison on a tractor now in custody

Inmate who escaped from Tennessee prison on a tractor now in custody”

An inmate who was considered extremely unsafe after he escaped from a Tennessee prison has been taken into custody, Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) confirmed Sunday afternoon.

Curtis Watson surrendered without incident several hours after law enforcement received a tip about his whereabouts in the West Tennessee town of Henning.

Curtis Ray Watson escaped Wednesday from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary while on mowing work detail.

Authorities launched an intense manhunt after Debra Johnson's body was found with a cord wrapped around her neck Wednesday morning.

Watson had been tasked with mowing duties at 7 a.m. that day, with access to a golf cart and tractor.

Hundreds of law enforcement personnel converged near a soybean field where they took a disheveled Watson wearing camouflage overalls into custody after a ground and air search, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said at a Sunday news conference.

Hours earlier, at 8:30 a.m., corrections officers saw Watson on a facility golf cart at her home, the TBI said.

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He was serving a sentence of 15 years for an especially aggravated kidnapping conviction.

"We have no indication that anyone assisted him", investigators said after Watson's capture, adding that everything he had, including a change of clothing, had been stolen. He is suspected of killing a prison administrator, Debra Johnson, in her home on prison grounds Wednesday.

When Johnson didn't show up for work, co-workers discovered Johnson's body at her home at 11:30 a.m., according to the affidavit.

Parker said Watson had no disciplinary issues since 2007 and was a minimal custody offender.

The Tennessee Department of Corrections said the 44-year-old was arrested just before 11 a.m. Sources say he was picked up in the 600 block of Caroline Street.

His sentence began in 2012, and he was scheduled to be released in 2025. His sentence in that case expired in 2011, officials said.

A warrant was issued charging him with first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual battery. He was previously convicted of aggravated child abuse and worked in the rural Tennessee prison as a farm laborer.



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