An extremely dangerous Curtis Watson managed to elude law enforcement in Tennessee for five days, before being taken back into custody.
“It scares you. I mean, you don’t know where he’s gonna turn up or what else he’s gonna do,” declares local resident Debbie White, “If he did what he did to get out, then to me he’s a desperate man on the run.”
Tip after tip came pouring into the hotline, but 369 of them produced “zero credible sightings” by late Saturday. Then on Sunday, they got the break they were waiting for. A homeowner’s surveillance camera captured his image. His body was captured shortly thereafter.
Watson was apprehended at 11 a.m. in Henning, not far from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, which he escaped from. The Tennessee Department of Corrections reports that Watson had changed out of his prison clothes to camouflage bib overalls and a hat. He was carrying a camping type backpack.
The drama started to unfold on Wednesday morning. He had been spotted mowing the lawn of the prison ground home of administrator Debra Johnson around 8:30 a.m., though nobody noticed anything suspicious.
When Johnson didn’t show up in her office on schedule, someone went to check on her and discovered her sexually abused body with a cord wrapped around her neck. Watson simply drove away on the lawn tractor and wasn’t seen for days.
Before he escaped, Watson was imprisoned on a 15-year sentence, convicted of aggravated kidnapping. Before that, he served time for aggravated child abuse. Police and tracking dogs spent days combing the area, asking residents to “be on the lookout and double-check their property, crawl spaces and dog houses — anywhere someone could hide.”
Watson’s family is especially thankful that he was recaptured. They expressed condolences to the family of the murdered corrections official and also her gratitude to the law enforcement officers who brought him back in.
Harley Pole, daughter of Curtis Watson, issued a statement Sunday, “The family of Curtis Watson would like to extend their deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to the family of Ms Debra Johnson. We also want to thank the Lauderdale County Sheriffs Department, TBI, FBI, US Marshals and every law enforcement agency who assisted in the apprehension today.”
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The family asked for privacy but wanted to publicly note their appreciation and sympathy. “We pray for all of the TDOC staff who have been impacted by this overwhelming turn of events as well as the communities that have been terrorized for almost a week. We thank everyone who has helped to keep us safe and informed of the developments this last week. At this time, we ask for privacy as we continue to deal with this adversity.”
Tremendous news that this fugitive is back in custody. Thanks to those in West Tennessee who assisted the hard work of @TBInvestigation, @TNHighwayPatrol, @TNDeptofSafety, @TNTDOC1 and local/federal law enforcement.
— Governor Bill Lee (@GovBillLee) August 11, 2019
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