HENNING, Tenn. (WKRN) — New details surrounding the escape of Curtis Watson have been revealed in a Lauderdale County affidavit. The information also includes the official cause of death for Debra Johnson, a long-time Tennessee Department of Correction employee.
Below is a timeline of events that occurred on August 7th, 2019
7 a.m. – Curtis Watson is released from prison for work detail. Watson was a ‘trusty’ at the prison and had access to prison equipment. That equipment included a golf cart and tractor.
8:10 a.m. – Debra Johnson is alive & talking on the phone based on the records officials have obtained.
8:30 a.m. – Correctional officers see Watson on a golf cart at Johnson’s home. She lived in a state-owned house on the grounds of the West Tennessee State Penitentiary.
Between 9-10 a.m. – Watson requests a reflective vest from another inmate at the prison. He also takes the tractor he had access to and drives away. As for the vest, ‘trusties’ are required to wear reflective vests while working on prison grounds.
11 a.m. – Prison officials realize Watson is missing.
11:30 a.m. – Johnson had not reported to work as usual, so coworkers go to her home where they find her body. A reflective vest was found at her home.
12:00 p.m. – Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is notified of homicide at the prison.
1:30 p.m. – The tractor Watson was driving is recovered 2.1 miles from the prison. His prison identification card was also recovered.
1:45 p.m. – TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker briefs the Governor’s office to pursue activation of the Governor’s Escape Plan.
3:00 p.m. – TBI issues Blue Alert and adds Watson to state’s Most Wanted List.
During the investigation, agents discovered a cord wrapped around Ms. Johnson’s neck. Ligature marks were also seen on her neck. Medical examiners concluded that Johnson was strangled and sexually assaulted.
Three warrants have been issued against Watson for first-degree murder, especially aggravated burglary, and aggravated sexual battery.
On Thursday, a $52,500 reward was announced for Watson’s capture.
The 44-year-old Watson is 5 feet 11 inches tall, between 180 and 200 pounds with brown eyes and a long gray beard.
Anyone with information is urged to contact 911 or 1-800-TBI-FIND.