*Updated on 8/11/19 at 4:25 p.m. (CT) to include information from news conference following capture.

*Updated on 8/11/19 at 8:07 a.m. (CT) to include images from credible sighting.

*Updated on 8/10/19 at 3:06 p.m. (CT) to include updated information regarding tattoo.

*Updated on 8/9/19 at 1:20 p.m. (CT) to include updated timeline graphic of events on Wednesday, 8/7/19.

*Updated on 8/8/19 at 3:53 p.m. (CT) to include an update on Watson’s weight.

*Updated on 8/7/19 at 7:34 p.m. (CT) to include information from news conference held at TBI Headquarters with TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker and TBI Director David Rausch.

HENNING – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has issued a Statewide Tennessee Blue Alert for Curtis Ray Watson.

Curtis Watson

  • Watson (DOB: 8/7/75) is listed as a person of interest in the homicide of a Tennessee Department of Correction employee today and is an escapee from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Henning.  Watson should be considered extremely dangerous.  If you see him call 911.
  • Watson has a variety of tattoos across his body.



  • Watson is 5’11”, 140 lbs, brown eyes, long gray beard. *Watson is now believed to weigh between 180 and 200 lbs.
  • In addition to the search for Watson, at the request of 25th District Attorney General Mark Davidson, TBI Agents are investigating the homicide of Debra Johnson, 64, the West Tennessee Correctional Administrator for the Tennessee Department of Corrections.  Ms. Johnson was a 38-year veteran employee of the state of Tennessee.
  • This is the third time a Blue Alert has been issued in the history of the program, which dates back to 2011.  The program uses the statewide infrastructure of the existing AMBER Alert system to push out critical information to the public to assist in apprehending violent criminals who kill or seriously injure law enforcement officers in the line of duty or to aid in locating a missing officer where foul play is involved.
  • TDOC Commissioner Tony Parker:  At approximately 11:30 a.m., Ms. Johnson was found inside her residence on the grounds of the West Tennessee State Penitentiary.  There was indication inside her residence that foul play was involved.
  • TDOC Commissioner Parker:  Immediately the facility went into lock down and an inmate count was conducted.  Curtis Watson was found missing from a work detail at that time and a manhunt was initiated.
  • TDOC Commissioner Parker:  Ms. Johnson began her career with TDOC on January 30, 1981 as a correctional officer and led a distinguished career in service to the people of Tennessee.
  • TDOC Commissioner Parker:  Watson is serving a 15 year sentence on a conviction of especially aggravated kidnapping out of Henry County.  His sentence began in 2013 and was set to expire in 2025.
  • TDOC Commissioner Parker: Watson had previously been convicted of aggravated child abuse in Carroll County.  That sentence expired in 2011.
  • TDOC: Commissioner Parker:  “Rest assured, we will find this offender and bring just to the family of Debra Johnson.”
  • Director Rausch: We ask the public to remain vigilant in this search for Curtis Watson.
  • Director Rausch: We have Special Agents and Forensic Scientists working through the night investigating the scene.

Watson Timeline

  • Curtis Watson has a circular shaped tattoo on the left side of his neck. We are efforting a clear image of this tattoo. Watson - Neck Arrow
  • Special Agents have released this image of murder suspect and fugitive Curtis Watson.  The image was captured by a homeowner’s door bell camera on Sunday at 3:28 a.m. in the Henning area.
  • At approximately 10:55 a.m. on Sunday, August 11th, Curtis Watson was captured in the 600 bock of Caroline Street in Henning.  This location is approximately 750 feet from the confirmed sighting of Watson on a home doorbell camera in the 500 block of Graves Avenue.  He was captured about 10 miles from the prison.