Tennessee prison escapee Curtis Ray Watson, who is accused of murdering and sexually assaulting a prison employee, was captured Sunday morning.
Watson, who was previously incarcerated after being convicted of aggravated child abuse, was serving a 15-year sentence for an especially aggravated kidnapping charge when he escaped. In 2012, he pleaded guilty to holding his wife against her will while using an aluminum baseball bat as a weapon, WKRN reported.
In prison, Watson was considered a “trusty,” according to an affidavit obtained by the Memphis Commercial Appeal. On Wednesday, his 44th birthday, he was released from his cell at 7 a.m. for his regular work detail, which consisted of mowing the lawns that surround the sprawling prison campus.
Later that morning, at around 11 a.m., prison officials realized that a tractor was gone. So was Watson, who had last been seen on a golf cart outside the home of Debra Johnson, a corrections administrator who lived on prison grounds. Johnson hadn’t reported for work that morning, and when officials went to check on her, they found that the 64-year-old had been strangled with a cord and sexually assaulted.
A manhunt ensued for the escapee.
Around 4 a.m. Sunday he was spotted on a doorbell camera about 10 miles from the prison rifling through a refrigerator kept in a residential carport, according to the Washington Post.
At 10:55 a.m., Watson walked out of a soybean field about 750 feet from the home where he was spotted. He put his hands up, and surrendered, David Rausch, the director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, said at Sunday’s news conference. The fugitive was covered in tick and mosquito bites, and “weathered from his time outside,” Rausch said.
“He was relieved to be over with his run,” said Rausch, adding that Watson “knew he wasn’t getting away” with such a large law enforcement presence, and made small talk with the officers who took him into custody.