Escaped inmate back behind bars, TBI working to determine how reward money will be distributed

Escaped inmate back behind bars, TBI working to determine how reward money will be distributed
Curtis Watson (Source: TBI)

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Escaped Tennessee inmate Curtis Ray Watson is back behind bars, in a segregated cell.

His five-day run from the law ended Sunday.

As the family of murdered prison administrator, Debra Johnson, prepares for her funeral this week the Lauderdale County district attorney says he will seek the death penalty when Watson goes on trial for Johnson's death.

When Curtis Watson stepped on to Harvey Taylor's property in Henning early Sunday morning, into the range of Taylor's surveillance camera, the clock started ticking.

Taylor’s 911 call brought the authorities and hours later, two female corrections officers captured Watson in a soybean field near the Taylor residence.

911 calls revealed in capture of escaped inmate

His arrest brought much needed calm to Watson's 19-year-old daughter, Harley Pole.

"I pretty much stayed hidden and I was too scared to even go outside because I could not stop looking over my shoulder,” said Pole.

The family of Debra Johnson can now focus on her funeral without fear.

Watson is accused of sexually assaulting and strangling the 64-year-old prison administrator to death during his escape.

"It gives us added relief that we can really bury our mother knowing the person that harmed her has been apprehended,” said Shernaye Johnson, daughter.

It’s undetermined how much of the $57,000 reward the Taylors will receive.

The TBI tweeted it's "working to determine the most appropriate ways to distribute the reward."

Family, friends and coworkers of Debra Johnson are now preparing to say farewell to a woman loved and respected by so many.

"She was humble in life, but we can't let you be humble in death because you were amazing,” said Mychal Austin, son.

Curtis Watson is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Wednesday in Lauderdale County. A camera will be allowed inside the courtroom.

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