HENNING – The correctional officer directing traffic on Hwy. 87 West cheered as her coworkers left the command center across the intersection.

The large caravan of law enforcement vehicles traveled west, back toward the prison, following the capture of Curtis Ray Watson, the escaped inmate who’s been on the run for five days.

The Tennessee Department of Corrections said the 44-year-old was arrested just before 11 a.m. Sources say he was picked up in the 600 block of Caroline Street.


A media briefing is pending, but officials have reported Watson was taken into custody alive and is reportedly being taken for treatment at a local hospital.

He was seen on home surveillance footage overnight wearing camouflage clothing and was still wearing the heavy jacket when he was arrested, despite a scorching, three-digit heat index Sunday morning.

Watson, who has been in prison since 2013 on charges of aggravated kidnapping related to a 2012 reported rape, escaped from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary Wednesday morning. It is believed he sexually assaulted and strangled correctional administrator Debra Johnson, whose body was found at approximately 11:30 a.m., before leaving the prison grounds on a tractor.

This is a developing story. The Leader will update as more information is provided.

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.