Published: Mon, August 12, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Man escaped Tennessee prison after prison employee murdered, considered armed and unsafe

Man escaped Tennessee prison after prison employee murdered, considered armed and unsafe

Police in Tennessee have issued a Blue Alert for an escaped inmate who is a person of interest in the homicide of a prison official.

"Tremendous news that this fugitive is back in custody", Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee said on Twitter.

Lauderdale County District Attorney Mark Davidson said Watson will be arraigned this week on charges of first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary, aggravated sexual battery and escape.

Watson was on his usual lawn mowing duty when he reportedly sexually assaulted and strangled a female corrections administrator before escaping prison grounds on a tractor, authorities said.

He was a minimum custody offender, News 4 reported, and had a job as a farm laborer at the prison.

The state Department of Corrections released a photo showing Watson looking at a refrigerator wearing a camouflage bib and hat, with a backpack.

Rewards totaling $52,500 are available for information leading to Watson's arrest. Rausch said there have been no credible sightings of Watson.

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Watson was discovered missing about 11 a.m. Wednesday, several hours after he was seen near the house where 64-year-old employee Debra Johnson lived on prison grounds, according to an affidavit from the TBI filed Thursday. Authorities have scoured the "acres and acres of farm fields and woods surrounding the prison" looking for the inmate, WMC reports, but torrential rain made it hard.

Watson had originally been charged with aggravated kidnapping but the charge was amended to the more serious charge, according to The Paris Post-Intelligencer.

Residents are asked to check trail cameras and other video surveillance cameras in the area for any sign of Watson, and to talk to their neighbors.

artolympic/iStock (HENNING, Tenn.) - An "extremely dangerous" inmate who escaped from a Tennessee prison last week has been captured, according to authorities. The prison is about 60 miles north of Memphis.

Watson is the subject of a Blue Alert, which is similar to an AMBER Alert.

He fled the area in a tractor, which was found just over a mile from the crime scene, along with his prison identification. His sentence was set to expire in 2025. He also has a past conviction for aggravated child abuse.

TDOC Commissioner Parker: Ms. Johnson began her career with TDOC on January 30, 1981 as a correctional officer and led a distinguished career in service to the people of Tennessee.

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