Wanted Tennessee inmate was caught after being spotted rifling through strangers' refrigerator


After an intense four-day manhunt for an escaped Tennessee inmate who officials suspect killed a prison worker upon his breakout, Curtis Ray Watson has been taken back into custody.

The Tennessee Department of Correction has confirmed escaped inmate Curtis Watson was spotted early this morning in Henning, Tennessee.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said that on Wednesday, 44-year-old Curtis Ray Watson escaped from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Henning, just south of Dyersburg. Authorities say Johnson was found deceased in the house with a cord around her neck.

Governor Bill Lee spoke at a press conference on Thursday, stating that Watson should be considered extremely unsafe. He had changed his clothing to "camo bib overall" as seen in photos provided by the resident. Correctional officers reported they saw Watson riding a golf cart at Johnson's house the morning she died.

Stay with WAAY 31 on air and WAAYTV.com online for more information about Watson's recapture as law enforcement officials release details.

"Rest assured that we will find this offender and bring justice to the family of Debra Johnson", Commissioner Tony Parker of the Tennessee Department of Correction said.

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By Wednesday afternoon, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation had issued a "blue alert" for the missing convict, meaning police are looking for a violent criminal suspected of hurting a member of law enforcement.

At Sunday's news conference, officials announced that Watson had been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated sexual battery and especially aggravated burglary in connection with her death, in addition to the charge that he faces for escaping.

"I can assure you that our office will be resolved to see that he is put back where he can never escape again and harm anybody in our communities", Davidson said.

Within hours of Watson's disappearance, authorities recovered the missing tractor, which he had abandoned about two miles from the prison, according to the affidavit.

She was found dead. The medical examiner declared her death a homicide by strangulation, the affidavit said. Watson illegally confined his wife while using an aluminum baseball bat in July 2012, court documents showed. He previously was in prison for aggravated child abuse and was released in 2011.