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Tennessee authorities are on the hunt for a prison inmate who escaped the same day a corrections officer was discovered dead in her house on the penitentiary’s property.
And they’re hoping his tattoos will give him away.
Debra Johnson, 64, who’s worked in Tennessee prisons for 38 years, was found dead late Wednesday morning at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary in Henning, according to CNN.
Then corrections officers couldn’t find Curtis Ray Watson, who’s been locked up there for 15 years for kidnapping, and they put the facility on lockdown. Watson, whose sentence was set to expire in 2025, according to WSMV, was a minimum custody offender and given a job at the prison’s farm.
Johnson’s death is being treated as a murder case, and Watson is “listed as the person of interest in this homicide,” Commissioner Tony Parker said at a press conference on Wednesday night.
Corrections officers have posted pictures of Watson’s tattoos — depicting demons and skeletons — on Twitter in their effort to find the inmate on the run.
A statewide blue alert, an alarm used when a law enforcement officer is killed, injured, or goes missing, has been issued. It’s only been used twice before in Tennessee, according to CNN.
Parker spoke about the Tennessee Corrections Department’s commitment to bringing the person responsible for Johnson’s death to justice, saying she was “a very dedicated, professional correctional employee.”
“Rest assured we will find this offender and bring justice to the family of Debra Johnson,” said Parker.
Cover: This undated photo provided by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation shows Curtis Ray Watson. (Tennessee Bureau of Investigation via AP)