Curtis Ray Watson mugshot

Curtis Ray Watson

RIPLEY, Tenn. (AP) - Authorities say a Tennessee convict who's suspected of killing a corrections employee and escaping a prison on a tractor could have left the state.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Director David Rausch said during a news conference in Nashville that the search continued Thursday for 44-year-old Curtis Ray Watson. Rausch said Watson escaped the West Tennessee State Penitentiary on Wednesday on a tractor.

Watson had been considered a person of interest in the killing of 64-year-old administrator Debra Johnson. Her body was found Wednesday in her residence on the prison's property in Henning.

Rausch said Watson is now considered a suspect in Johnson's killing. He's considered extremely dangerous. Rausch said there have been no credible sightings of Watson.

Rausch asked those who live in the area of the prison to look for things that are "out of place," such as missing food, weapons or vehicles. The TBI chief said Watson could be outside of Tennessee.