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Escaped Tennessee inmate Curtis Watson captured after five-day manhunt

Escaped Tennessee inmate Curtis Watson captured after five-day manhunt

When the Taylors picked up the phone to call police early Sunday morning, the manhunt for the escaped convict was entering its fifth day.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has said he's a suspect in the death of Debra Johnson, a longtime corrections official who was found dead in her home on the prison grounds.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) said a resident who saw Watson on his property had alerted authorities Sunday morning.

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

Watson is seen in the security video opening up a refrigerator.

The inmate, described as extremely unsafe, is accused of strangling TDOC administrator Debra Johnson on the morning of his escape. Prosecutor Mark Davidson said they will consider seeking the death penalty.

In prison, Watson was considered a "trusty", meaning that he received special privileges in exchange for good behavior, according to an affidavit obtained by the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Watson is also now serving a 15-year sentence on a conviction of aggravated kidnapping out of Henry County. In 2012, he pleaded guilty to holding his wife against her will while using an aluminum baseball bat as a weapon, WKRN reported. His sentence in that case expired in 2011, officials said.

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TBI said Watson escaped prison grounds, and the tractor was found nearby.

When Johnson didn't show up for work, co-workers discovered her body at her home at 11:30 a.m., according to the affidavit, which notes that agents found a cord wrapped around Johnson's neck.

Johnson died from strangulation and had been sexually assaulted during the attack, according to court documents.

The reward was then increased to $57,000 for information leading to the capture of the man police suspected of killing a woman whose "distinguished career" with the Tennessee Department of Corrections spanned 38 years. He had mosquito bites and his feet were in bad shape, but had no serious injuries. "He could be anywhere", said Rausch.

Watson's daughter, Harley Pole, thanked law enforcement in a statement issued shortly after her father was captured.

The TBI added Watson to its Most Wanted list and tweeted pictures of his tattoos and his face.

The TBI had secured warrants for Watson on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated burglary and aggravated sexual battery.


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