Tennessee prison employee killed; escaped inmate wanted in the homicide

RIPLEY, Tenn. (AP) — Authorities in Tennessee are searching for an escaped inmate who is a person of interest in the recent homicide of a Department of Correction employee.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation says 44-year-old Curtis Ray Watson escaped Wednesday from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) outside of Memphis.

The TBI issued a “Blue Alert,” which is used to inform the public of violent suspects who kill or seriously injure law enforcement officers in the line of duty.

Authorities say 64-year-old Debra Johnson, a correctional administrator, was killed on Wednesday. They didn’t give further details.

Watson has been incarcerated since 2012 for an aggravated kidnapping conviction. Police said at the time that Watson knocked a woman over the head with an object and raped her multiple times.

TBI says Watson should be considered extremely dangerous.

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