UPDATE: Local Memphis says law enforcement is zeroing in on a wooded area near the prison where Curtis Watson escaped in Lauderdale County.
Neighbors also told WATN someone broke into a home off Highway 371 and stole food and water while the family slept. Law enforcement has not confirmed it was Watson who broke in.
HENNING, Tenn. (WKRN) — The reward for wanted fugitive and prison escapee Curtis Watson has now gone up to $57,000 after the Tennessee Department of Corrections added in $4,500.
Early Thursday, Governor Bill Lee, the TBI, and ATF offered a combined $32,500 reward in the continued search for Watson. The reward for Watson’s capture went up to $52,500 after the FBI and U.S. Marshals pitched in $10,000 each.
TBI said Saturday they received 369 tips, but no credible sightings. They believe Watson is still in the surrounding area.
They urged residents in the immediate area to remain alert, check on neighbors and check your property.
Law enforcement has been searching for Watson since Wednesday when the TBI issued a Blue Alert for him. At the time, Watson was named a “person of interest” in the murder of a longtime Department of Correction employee.
Investigators said 64-year-old Debra Johnson was found dead around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday inside of her residence on the grounds of the penitentiary. Foul play was suspected in her death.
The medical examiner concluded Ms. Johnson died from strangulation and had also been sexually assaulted. Investigators discovered a cord wrapped around her neck.
Watson was discovered missing from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary during the investigation into Johnson’s death. Johnson was the West Tennessee Correctional Administrator.
TBI officials said Thursday they issued three warrants against Watson for first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary, and aggravated sexual battery.
Watson is 5 feet 11 inches tall, between 180 and 200 pounds with brown eyes and a long gray beard.