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Dangerous Fugitive Captured Near State Prison

Previously Convicted in Carroll, Henry Counties

Posted 8/12/19

HENNING, Tenn. (August 11) — Curtis Ray Watson, 44, formerly of Huntingdon, was captured Sunday in Henning just a few miles from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, where he escaped while on …

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Dangerous Fugitive Captured Near State Prison

Previously Convicted in Carroll, Henry Counties

Posted

HENNING, Tenn. (August 11) — Curtis Ray Watson, 44, formerly of Huntingdon, was captured Sunday in Henning just a few miles from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, where he escaped while on farm work detail as a trusty.

Watson made his escape on his birthday as he was operating a farm tractor. He killed Debra Johnson, 64, in her on-site home. Johnson was a prison administrator and considered a dedicated and true corrections officer. Watson remained at large for five days as 300-400 law enforcement personnel searched for him. The TBI received 430 tips during the manhunt.

A reward was offered for information leading to his capture and people were advised to be on constant lookout for the dangerous criminal. His photograph was circulated through traditional media, social media, and billboards.

Area residents were on alert and concerned he would return to the area. As one local law enforcement officer said, convicts have a way of returning to familiar playgrounds with familiar playmates. Watson’s family locally was secured by authorities.

It was Harvey and Ann Taylor of Henning, who made the 911 call and possibly earned the reward. They were alerted when something triggered their Ring video doorbell on the rear of their home Sunday around 3:30 a.m. They watched as the suspect opened a refrigerator outside of the house. During a press conference on Sunday, Harvey Taylor said when the subject, dressed in camouflage, closed the refrigerator, they could see his beard. During the press conference, Taylor laughed and said the beard looked like his. Mrs. Taylor phoned 911 as Mr. Taylor prepared himself in case Watson attempted to enter the home.

Officers from throughout the area converged on Henning. Six officers and two tracking canines from Henry County Sheriff’s Department assisted. When Watson was taken into custody, it was Atwood resident Natt Moore, a special agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, who had Watson in custody. He was assisted by his partner, TBI Agent Joe Hudgins, also of Carroll County.

During the press conference, officials said Watson was surrounded and had no way to escape. He was captured without incident. Watson told officers he knew he was not going to get away.

Immediately after his capture, he was taken to the hospital and treated for bug bites, issues with his feet because they had been wet, and numerous ticks. He will be arraigned this week in Lauderdale County.

The arraignment for escaped inmate Curtis Watson is 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, August 14 at the Lauderdale County Justice Center in Ripley, Tenn.

He was serving a 15-year sentence for Especially Aggravated Kidnapping in Henry County. The charges stem from a July 25, 2012 incident in which he kidnapped his wife, Jessica, and confined her with a deadly weapon, an aluminum baseball bat. He plead guilty to the charge.

Watson was also convicted of Aggravated Child Abuse in Carroll County in 2003. He received a sentence of 10 years for the Class B felony. The conviction indicates Watson and a female, also named Watson, “did intentionally or knowingly inflict serious bodily injury upon a child under the age of six years old.”

He now faces First Degree Murder, Aggravated Sexual Battery, and Escape charges.

Watson’s Facebook posts are limited, but it indicates he was from Luling, Louisiana and resided in Huntingdon.

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