TDOC and TBI are searching for 44-year-old Curtis Ray Watson who escaped from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary Wednesday afternoon.

On day four of the search for Curtis Ray Watson, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation reported they believed he’s still in the surrounding area.

Saturday, the agency said despite receiving 369 tips there have been no credible sightings.

The 44-year-old is accused of sexually assaulting and strangling Debra Johnson, a correctional administrator who lived on the West Tennessee State Penitentiary grounds, before escaping Wednesday morning.


He reportedly escaped while performing daily mowing duties.

The area surrounding the prison is rural, with dense forest and fields. Law enforcement officers have had a heavy presence in the area and have been conducting vehicle checkpoints as a result of the escape.

The TBI has not released information about his probably means of travel, but encourage residents in the immediate area to remain alert, check their property and check on their neighbors.

A reward for his apprehension and conviction was increased to $57,000 Saturday night with the Tennessee Department of Corrections adding $4,500 more.

Do not approach Watson if you suspect you see him as he is considered a very dangerous fugitive. Call 911 or 1-800-TBI-FIND.

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

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