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Active Search! Escaped inmate Curtis Ray Watson wanted in Tennessee for murder. 09/08/2019

Discussion in 'Crimes' started by fran, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. fran

    fran Administrator Staff Member

    [​IMG]
    Curtis Ray Watson is seen in this undated booking photo.


    Authorities in Tennessee offer reward for information on 'extremely dangerous' escaped inmate


    Authorities are offering a $32,500 reward for information that leads to the capture of an escaped Tennessee inmate who is considered "extremely dangerous" and a suspect in a homicide case, officials said at a press conference Thursday.

    Curtis Watson escaped from work detail on Wednesday from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Henning, Tennessee, about 50 miles northeast of Memphis, according to officials with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI). Watson, 44, fled the area on a tractor, which was later found about a mile from the facility, officials said.

    He was originally considered a person of interest in the homicide of Debra Johnson, 64, but is now a suspect after the state's Violent Crime Response team concluded their investigation at the crime scene, David Rausch, director of the TBI, said at a press conference Thursday.

    [​IMG]
    Debra Johnson, 64, was found dead inside her home on Wednesday morning, officials said.

    The TBI has secured warrants for Watson on charges of first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual battery.


    Johnson, who was the West Tennessee administrator for the Department of Corrections, was killed early Wednesday inside her home, which is located on the prison grounds. She was employed with the state for the last 38 years.

    (MORE: Escaped white supremacist, fellow armed inmate back in custody after 2-day search)
    The facility was placed on lock down after Johnson's body was found, and authorities soon realized Watson was missing, police said.

    "He could be anywhere," Rausch said. "We need Tennesseans, as well as our partners throughout bordering states to be vigilant about this."

    It was not immediately clear what contact Watson and Johnson had, but one official said it was "not uncommon for her to know the inmates who work on the property."

    "She was very well regarded with staff and inmate population," Tony Parker, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Corrections, said at the press conference Thursday.

    Police did not say how Johnson was killed.

    (MORE: Handcuffed fugitive steals police car, allegedly kidnaps woman while on the run)
    Officials warned residents not to approach Watson. Instead, they should call local authorities.

    "We need Tennesseans to be vigilant," Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said at the press conference. "We need folks in this state and, in particular the region where the crime occurred, to report any and all information to local law enforcement."

    Lee authorized $25,000 for the reward, while the TBI issued $2,500 and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives added $5,000 to the fund.

    "Rest assured that we will find this offender and bring justice to the family of Debra Johnson," Parker had previously said.

    Over the course of her "distinguished" career, Johnson served in numerous positions including correctional sergeant, deputy warden, warden and correctional administrator, overseeing all prisons in the western region of the state, officials said.

    https://abcnews.go.com/US/authorities-tennessee-offer-reward-information-extremely-dangerous-escaped/story?id=64858660
     
  2. fran

    fran Administrator Staff Member

    Affidavit says fugitive Curtis Ray Watson strangled, sexually assaulted Tennessee corrections employee

    Affidavits released from the Lauderdale County Clerk's Office detail the allegations against Curtis Ray Watson, a fugitive who escaped the West Tennessee State Penitentiary on Wednesday.

    The affidavits, sworn by agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, are the basis of warrants for first-degree murder, especially aggravated battery, and aggravated sexual battery charges against Watson.

    According to those documents, Watson was considered a trusty — a prisoner who has been given special privileges in return for good behavior.

    He was released from the prison about 7 a.m. Wednesday for his daily mowing duties. Through his position at the prison, he had access to equipment, including a tractor and a golf cart, according to an affidavit.

    t about 8:30 a.m., correctional officers saw Watson in a golf cart at the home of Debra Johnson, a corrections administrator at the prison. Johnson lived in one of about a dozen on-site residences at the prison facility.

    Between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., Watson took a tractor and reflective vest from the prison and drove away from the site, the affidavits say. Officials did not notice he was missing until an hour later, according to the affidavit.

    Johnson's coworkers went to her residence and discovered her body at 11:30 a.m. Johnson was found with a cord wrapped around her neck and ligature marks. Investigators believe she had been strangled and sexually assaulted, according to the affidavit.

    The tractor Watson was driving was found about two miles away from the prison at 1:30 p.m. where his prison identification was recovered, according to the affidavit.

    A second affidavit shows Watson was charged with aggravated burglary and another affidavit shows he was charged with aggravated sexual battery.

    TBI said Thursday there have been no confirmed sightings of Watson, despite numerous reports across the state.

    TBI Director David Rausch also said Thursday the agency has received over 75 tips placing Watson across Tennessee and in other states.

    "We are following up on every tip we receive. The ones we feel are most credible we are checking them first," Rausch said.

    In a news conference Thursday, Rausch advised people in the region to check their property for things that are out of place, check security and trail cameras and check on their neighbors.

    "He could be anywhere," Rausch said.

    Officials said Watson worked on the grounds as a farm laborer. A tractor was discovered about a mile from the prison.

    Where could he be going?
    TBI showed this map of the search area as they held a press conference about Curtis Ray Watson, an inmate who escaped from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary.

    TBI showed this map of the search area as they held a press conference about Curtis Ray Watson, an inmate who escaped from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary. Watson is listed by TBI as a person of interest in the homicde of a Tennessee Department of Correction employee on Wednesday. TBI considers him extremely dangerous. Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: Larry McCormack / The Tennessean)


    Watson's sentence was connected to a Henry County conviction from 2013.

    Henry County Sheriff Monte Belew urged the community to be aware of the possibility Watson would return to the area, which is approximately 100 miles northeast of the prison.

    "The suspect does have ties to the community. We are urging our citizens to have a heightened awareness and use caution," Belew said.

    MORE: Debra Johnson, killed in connection with Curtis Watson escape, was first TDOC employee killed on duty in 15 years

    KEEP UP TO DATE: Get updates on the search Curtis Ray Watson

    What you need to know
    Watson's weight is between 180-200 pounds and he stand 5-foot-11.

    Authorities have distributed several photos of Watson, and his tattoos, to help the public identify him

    The reward for information leading to his capture and conviction has grown to $52,500

    A TBI tweet said that Watson "should be considered extremely dangerous."

    TBI asks anyone with information on Watson’s whereabouts should call 911 or 1-800-TBI-FIND.

    DIG DEEPER
    Curtis Ray Watson
    What we know as Curtis Watson manhunt extends into day 3
    Photos: Curtis Ray Watson, Escaped West Tennessee State Penitentiary inmate
    Curtis Ray Watson: What we know about escapee, person of interest in prison worker's homicide
    Debra Johnson, killed in connection with Curtis Watson escape, was first TDOC employee killed on duty in 15 years
    Affidavit says Curtis Ray Watson strangled, sexually assaulted Tennessee corrections employee
    [​IMG]

    https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/crime/2019/08/09/tennessee-manhunt-curtis-watson-affidavit-details-charges-against/1966285001/
     
  3. fran

    fran Administrator Staff Member

    Family of West Tennessee prison admin expected her this weekend. Debra Johnson never made it.

    Every Friday, correctional administrator Debra Johnson would leave her job at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary and drive two-and-a-half hours east to Nashville for a cherished weekend visit with her family legacy.

    The 64-year-old grandmother of seven (and counting) and mother of three grew up in North Nashville's Haynes Manor neighborhood and moved west of the city three years ago to take a new position with the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

    But Friday, Johnson didn't make her routine trip from Lauderdale County.

    Just two days earlier her life came to an end when state and local authorities say an inmate at the prison entered her home on prison grounds, sexually assaulted and killed her, then escaped the facility on a tractor.

    [​IMG]
    Family members Mychal Austin, Debra Johnson and Dr. Shernaye Johnson
    (Photo: Mychal Austin)



    On Friday, the man suspected of killing her — identified by The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation as 40-year-old Curtis Ray Watson — remained at large. As a statewide manhunt continued, leaving Tennesseans on edge, Johnson's family tried to make sense of her death.

    "She'd come home every weekend to spend the weekends with us and see my nieces and nephews and go shopping with her mom," her 31-year-old son Mychal Austin recalled late Friday morning, his voice trailing off.

    "She'd be on her way back right now."

    The prison's first lady
    Johnson, whose grandchildren knew her as 'granny-gran' and whose colleagues called her "DJ," worked for the state of Tennessee for 38 years, making her way up the ranks from correctional officer to correctional administrator.

    "The inmates would call her 'first lady' on the compound," her son said, pride emanating from his voice. "People would start to straighten up because she was so fair and delivered every promise she made to them. She did turn the prison around."

    Johnson was a lifelong member of Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church in Nashville, where she was an usher.

    “She was an invaluable part of our community, a faithful and consistent servant,” the church’s Pastor David Latimore said. “We are all at a loss."

    Austin, a teacher at Hull Jackson Montessori School in Nashville, said his mother enjoyed HGTV and shopping, collected wines and was an avid reader.

    "She was funny, upbeat and positive," he said. "When you'd see her with us she'd usually be walking with a hop in her step."

    "She always thought the inmates deserved a second chance," he said. "If I had never had her as a mom I probably wouldn't be a public servant myself and think different of convicts. I've learned there's a lot of people who don't deserve to be in jail or just made a bad decision to get them there."

    The hunt: Day 3
    The search for Watson entered day three on Friday, just one day after the TBI secured warrants on charges of first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual battery in connection with Johnson's death.


    Court papers show he was a trusty — a prisoner who has been given special privileges in return for good behavior. On the day of the killing, Watson was released from the prison about 7 a.m. for his daily mowing duties.

    At about 8:30 a.m., correctional officers saw Watson in a golf cart at the home of Johnson, who lived in one of about a dozen on-site residences at the prison facility.

    What we know as Curtis Watson manhunt extends into day 3
    Photos: Curtis Ray Watson, Escaped West Tennessee State Penitentiary inmate
    Curtis Ray Watson: What we know about escapee, person of interest in prison worker's homicide
    Debra Johnson, killed in connection with Curtis Watson escape, was first TDOC employee killed on duty in 15 years
    Affidavit says Curtis Ray Watson strangled, sexually assaulted Tennessee corrections employee
    [​IMG]


    https://www.commercialappeal.com/st...rison-escape-had-nashville-family/1964692001/
     

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