Inmate who escaped on tractor after death of prison employee is now in custody

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

The Tennessee Department of Corrections attributed the capture of Curtis Ray Watson, 44, to the "vigilant efforts" of search teams and resident tips.

Watson was apprehended at 11 a.m. in Henning, where the West Tennessee State Penitentiary he escaped from on Wednesday is located, the department said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, the department confirmed a sighting of Watson in Henning.

Watson had changed his clothing and was believed to be wearing camouflage bib overalls and a hat, the Department of Corrections said Sunday. He was carrying a camp backpack, the department added.

Local residents watched as law enforcement officials and K-9 units have descended on the area searching for him.

"It scares you. I mean, you don't know where he's gonna turn up or what else he's gonna do," Debbie White, who lives a few miles from the prison, WREG. "If he did what he did to get out, then to me he's a desperate man on the run."

Watson, 44, is a person of interest in the death of correctional administrator Debra Johnson, 64, who was found dead in her on-site residence around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, authorities say.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said the tractor Watson used was found about a mile from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary

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

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