Curtis Ray Watson mugshot

Curtis Ray Watson

HENNING, TN — The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is searching for a man who escaped from the West Tennessee State Penitentiary Wednesday. 

The TBI issued a statewide alert for 44-year-old Curtis Ray Watson, who escaped from the prison in Henning, Tennessee. The alert says Watson is a person of interest in the homicide of a department of corrections employee. 

"Watson should be considered extremely dangerous," the TBI alert warns. 

Watson is 5 feet, 11 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds. He has brown eyes, brown hair and a number of tattoos. The TBI released several photos of Watson's tattoos, which are included below this story.

In a news conference Wednesday evening, TBI Director David Rausch said Watson, who worked as a farmed laborer at the prison, escaped on a tractor. 

Speaking at the news conference, Department of Corrections Commissioner Tony Parker said the corrections employee, 64-year-old Debra Johnson, was found dead inside her residence at the penitentiary around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. 

Parker said Watson was serving a 15-year sentence for especially aggravated kidnapping out of Henry County. 

If you have information about where Watson is, you can call 911 or the TBI at 1-800-FIND.